Remote Desktop Windows Store app: Managing multiple PCs

Remote Desktop Windows Store app: Managing multiple PCs

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Hi, I’m Chris Butner, a developer on the Remote Desktop Virtualization (RDV) team. Our team is responsible for developing Microsoft RemoteFX in the Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8 release and the Remote Desktop Windows Store app.

The Remote Desktop Windows Store app has been optimized for tablet devices with a simple-to-use, intuitive, and touch-friendly user interface (UI). One great feature of the app is that it allows you to easily manage and switch between multiple remote desktop sessions at the same time, whether you’re connecting from a tablet, notebook or desktop PC.

Connecting to multiple remote PCs

You can connect to a remote PC from the Home page of the app. Enter the name of the PC that you wish to connect to in the PC name field, or tap the remote PC’s tile if you’ve connected to it before.

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After you’ve connected, you’ll see the contents of the remote PC and an overlay at the top of the screen indicating the PC name.

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To view a list of active sessions in a larger overlay at the top of your screen, swipe from the top or bottom of the screen, or click the overlay (waggle your mouse if it’s hidden).

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This list of active sessions also includes a “plus” button: tap it to return to the Home page of the app and your Remote Desktop session will continue in the background. To see the list of active sessions again, swipe once more from the top or bottom, or right-click in empty space on the Home page.

After you’re at the Home page with a session running in the background, you can start a second session by using the PC name field, or by tapping a tile in the Recent list.

Switching between sessions

Switching between sessions by using touch is as easy as swiping from the top or bottom and tapping on a tile at the top of the screen. You can always tap on the “plus” button and start an additional session as needed. With a large number of sessions, you can pan sideways to scroll through the tiles.

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With a mouse, there’s a shortcut available so you can switch efficiently: right-click anywhere along the top edge of the screen to show the list of active sessions. This also works along the bottom edge of the screen if you need to access session commands.

When using a keyboard, things work a little differently. Windows+Z is sent to the remote PC so you can see commands for apps running in your session. However, there are a number of keyboard combinations that will always let you navigate within the Remote Desktop app while you’re controlling a remote session:

  • Ctrl+Alt+Home: show the list of active sessions, and session commands
  • Ctrl+Alt+Left Arrow: switch to the previous session
  • Ctrl+Alt+Right Arrow: switch to the next session
  • Ctrl+Alt+Up Arrow: switch to the first session
  • Ctrl+Alt+Down Arrow: switch to the last session

Monitoring sessions in the snapped view

You can keep an eye on your sessions while using another app by using the Windows 8 Snap feature. Just grab the top of the Remote Desktop app by using touch or mouse and drag it to one side of your screen to snap it and see a live list of your active sessions (1366*768 or higher resolution required).

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From this view you can tap on one of your sessions to quickly switch back into it, or tap on the “plus” button to connect to an additional remote PC.

Using different settings for each remote PC

Sometimes you may wish to use different settings for a number of remote PCs. For example, you may need to connect via a Remote Desktop Gateway server to access your work PC, or send recorded audio to a PC within your home.

The Remote Desktop app allows you to customize connections saved in the Recent list. First, swipe down or right-click a tile to select it, and then tap Edit to get started.

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Normally, saved connections will use the same settings as the list you maintain from the Settings charm (swipe in from the right and tap on Settings and then Connection settings to take a look). However, from the Edit section you can tap to turn off the slider that says Use the same settings for all remote PCs and start customizing the PC tile shown. Note that settings are applied the next time you connect to a remote PC and don’t apply immediately to active sessions.

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Disconnecting

Normally when you switch between sessions they’ll stay connected in the background and minimize network usage by avoiding unnecessary graphics updates. If you need to disconnect one of your sessions, bring up the list of active sessions and tap the close button overlaying that session’s tile. Your apps will remain open on the remote PC, ready for when you next connect.

If you lose network connectivity, the Remote Desktop app will wait until you regain it, and then attempt to reconnect each of your active sessions automatically.

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If it isn’t possible to reconnect—for example, you’ve taken over the session by operating the remote PC directly, or the remote PC has lost power—the PC’s tile in the list of active sessions will indicate that the connection was lost.

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If the Remote Desktop app is reconnecting after a long time—for example, your tablet’s screen was off for a number of hours—you may be prompted for a password. You can bypass this requirement by choosing to save a password for trusted remote PCs when connecting the first time.

Summary

Whether you’re at work or at home, on a tablet, notebook, or desktop, the Remote Desktop app offers a convenient way for you to access multiple remote PCs. Install the free Remote Desktop app from the Windows Store and try these features out today.

NOTE: Questions and comments are welcome. However, please DO NOT post a request for troubleshooting by using the comment tool at the end of this post. Instead, post a new thread in the RDS & TS forum at http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/winserverTS/threads. Thank you!

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  • It would be great if you posted the keyboard shortcuts for navigating within the remote desktop session on the page in the app store.  Big fan of this app and I knew these keyboard shortcuts very likely existed but was frustrated in my attempts to find them.  

    In general love the app.  

  • No copy and paste between the host and the remote desktop sessions? why? Seems a silly thing to do!

  • Hi Christopher! You are very clever. This is great!

  • 1) 'View in Windows Store' does nothing when clicked, I'm using chrome.

    2) Windows Store Apps can't be used without UAC enabled.  I need to prepare for security pop-up hell.

    3) The app is fullscreen, I have an amazing tripple monitor rig, and now I can only do one thing at a time.

    You've sort of missed the point.  I can open multiple desktops, great, but I can still only have one on the screen at the same time, fail.  Do these things get tested before release?

  • This is a great app for the Surface RT but would be greater if it had an interface like that of Remote Desktop Connection Manager.

    Thanks,

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