Introducing Live Mesh Remote Desktop: Part 1

Introducing Live Mesh Remote Desktop: Part 1

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The Remote Desktop Protocol is an efficient and feature-rich protocol which we have invested in greatly over the years.   As such, we’ve worked to make RDP available not just in traditional Terminal Server scenarios, but also as a platform for additional products from Microsoft and third party ISV’s.  We are seeing the benefits of this work in very cool products like the Live Mesh Remote Desktop, which we developed with one of our partner teams.  This service was just released to public Beta during Microsoft’s PDC, and in this post we’ll walk you through how it is used.

If you’ve ever wanted to have quick access to one of your computers from anywhere without the hassle of advanced network configuration and VPNs, Live Mesh is for you. Live Mesh uses advanced routing technology to enable seamless connectivity to any of your machines that are connected to the internet, regardless of network topology.

Note that there are a number of other valuable features in Live Mesh, but this post will focus exclusively on Live Remote Desktop. For more information on the additional features of Live Mesh, feel free to stop by their blog at http://blogs.msdn.com/livemesh/. Now, let’s get you up and accessing your devices!

Adding Devices to Your Mesh

It is very simple to get started with Live Mesh. If you don’t already have a Windows Live ID, you can start by creating one from www.passport.net. Once you have an ID to use for your Live Mesh account, you’ll need to visit www.mesh.com and sign in.

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After signing in with your Windows Live ID, you will be presented with a first look at your mesh of devices. Initially your list of devices will be empty, so the first step will be to add devices you’d like to access to your Mesh.

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To add your device to the mesh, simply click the large Add Device button, select the operating system from the drop down menu, and click Install.

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This process will accomplish two things. First, it will download and install the Live Mesh desktop software onto your computer. Installing this software adds all the Live Mesh functionality to your computer, including the components which make it remotely accessible. Second, it will register the computer with the Live Mesh service, to make your computer show up in your list of devices. After downloading and running the installer from the Mesh website, you will see a Live Mesh notification in your system tray.

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Next, click Sign in and enter your Live ID to get your computer logged on to your Live Mesh account. By allowing Live Mesh to save your password and sign in automatically, you can ensure that you’ll always have access to your computer, even upon reboot before logging in to your user account.

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After you’ve signed in to your Live Mesh account, you’ll be able to create a friendly name to identify the device you’ve added to your mesh.

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After clicking “Add Device” you have officially added the device to your Mesh and are ready to access it from anywhere. You should repeat this process on all machines you’d like remote access to. I personally have it on every computer I own =).

Connecting to Your Devices

Now that you have added your desired devices to your mesh, the next step will be to connect to your computers. The Live Mesh desktop software will be installed on any Windows XP or Vista computer you add to your mesh, and can be accessed via the Live Mesh icon in your taskbar’s notification area.

To begin, ensure that the device you’d like to access is turned on and has been signed in to your mesh either manually or by configuring it for automatic sign-in. Note that any machines which are set to automatically sleep for power-saving reasons won’t be reachable while they are asleep. On the computer you’re connecting from, click the Live Mesh icon on the right of your taskbar to bring up your list of devices. You will see that any device in your mesh which is online and logged in to your Live Mesh account will have the “Connect to device” option below its name.

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Upon connecting you’ll see the lock screen of the target device. For security reasons, the device you are connecting to is locked upon connection, ensuring that whoever is accessing the device has not only successfully signed in to your Mesh account, but also has full rights to the remote device’s user account. After you log in, you can control your device in the same manner as you would through traditional Remote Desktop.

So far we’ve gone through how sign up for Live Mesh, add your devices to the mesh, and get connected via the Live Mesh software. In Part 2 of this post, I’ll outline how you can use Live Mesh to access your devices from anywhere via the browser, as well as some of the ways that Live Mesh Remote Desktop is unique when compared to the well-known Windows Remote Desktop feature.

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  • We appreciate all of the detailed feedback on the incorrect mouse pointer offset issue.  It looks like this is specific to Windows XP with the "Hide desktop on remote device" feature.  We are looking into this with a high priority and will update you when a solution is available.

  • I have the same problem and it doesn't matter if I select hide desktop on remote device. When I connect to my Windows XP machine I get the squished desktop and cursor that is off. I see its because the 'virtual' Mesh monitor has 'Extended my desktop to this monitor' checked. By unchecking this option, it works fine. However, when I reconnect, the option is back on.

    When I connect to my Vista machine I don't have this problem. Both machines are Lenovo laptops that can support dual monitors but are not (ie just an external LCD is being used).

    Its a nice feature and I hope MS can fix it.

  • What if remote machine is used by two or more users and both want leave it signed on under their accounts so they can access it remotely from their homes. Is that possible? What will happen if they both start using same file and program? would they get their own instance of desktop and all installed programs or they can see other person using the machine. Thanks

  • @KC: As it currently stands, if you try to connect to a machine that is being used, that user will be logged off.

  • My emachine T2698 will synchronize but cannot be remotely accessed.  I have followed all the fixes and nothing works.  I had a terrible time with installation; it did not work and would not uninstall Mesh.  Finally I found instructions on the net to workaround - had to delete two keys in the Registry and then save Livemesh.exe and run it from a command prompt.

    So LiveMesh now recognizes my eMachine and synchronizes but will not allow me to access remotely.

    What can I do?  Two other laptops are on my Livemesh and work fine.

    tyl604@aol.com

  • Are you still monitoring this feed?  Please see my question on Live Mesh dated October 22.

  • Adrain, with the workaround you found were you able to successfully uninstall Mesh and then reinstall it?  If you had to use a workaround to reinstall I'd imagine it may not have been installed properly the second time.

  • Dunno.  It felt like it installed properly the second time and it added the eMachine to the mesh and it synchronizes the eMachine.  However it has a message saying that -although the eMachine is snychronizing, it cannot be remotely accessed.  Unfortunately this is the exact machine that I need to access remotely.

    What do you recommend that I do to get it to handle the remote access???  Is this a typical in the Mesh beta?

  • Casey - to be a little more clear.  Yes, I was finally able to uninstall Mesh; I verified by looking in the Add & Remove Programs file and it was gone - earlier I tried removing Mesh but it still showed in Add & Remove Programs.  So I am confident that I finally uninstalled all of it.  Then I installed again from the command prompt a fresh saved .exe file - my old DOS instincts working.  It seemed to install properly and completely - and I was glad that it asked me for a name for the computer.  So it added the eMachine to the mesh with my two laptops and I thought all was fine.  However I noticed when I clicked on the eMachine as a device Mesh warned me that the eMachine was synchronizing OK but it could not be remotely accessed.  Of course this is the one that I need to access remotely most often.

    So 1) Mesh was completely uninstalled finally, 2) Mesh seemed to install fine from the command prompt, but 3) the eMachine cannot be accessed remotely though it synchronizes.

    Any idea what I should do?  Do you recommend that I go through all the steps again to uninstall and reinstall from the command prompt hoping that it will do something differently this time?  Is this just a typical problem with Mesh as a beta?

  • Live Mesh Remote Desktop is totally unusable for me, and has been for months.  There is a 15-30 second delay between each mouse click and the corresponding screen changes, it's ridiculous!  

    What happened to this?  When Live Mesh first came out Remote Desktop was awesome and there was very little delay.  Why is it unusable now?  It is definitely not my internet connection speed, either.

    Thanks!

  • Isn´t more open and productive to divide mesh remote control into two separate services: a low level service that brings a TCP-IP tunnel, the higuer level, remote desktop service would have been not necessary to develop again since the current remote desktop services with a few additional options would have carried out the task.

    The remote desktop client is way faster: rendering of windows , graphics and so on are better. It is clear the the MTSC handles more primitives and less raw graphics and the new version deals with directx.  It´s a pity that the seamless tunneling services are closed and hidden for the exclusive use of a now suboptimal remote control utility.

  • I've been using Mesh for about 4 months and love it. Upgraded work machine to Win7 64 bit and still works great.  The panning feature works well for me when I'm remoting from my laptop. Thank you!

  • Mouse clicks fail to respond.

    After lauching the desktop I tried access a previously running instance of VS 2010. Moving the mouse over the main window's menus causing them to highlight but clicking has no result. Even tried using accelerator keys but they to failed.

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