The Remote Desktop feature is one of the most compelling reasons to upgrade to Windows XP. With Remote Desktop, you can connect to your Windows XP machine from anywhere on your Local Area Network (LAN). You can even set it up so that you can connect to the machine over the Internet from anywhere in the world, as long you are connecting from a Windows OS. Prior to Windows XP, if you wanted this kind functionality, you had do some special configuring using Windows Terminal Services.

In this article, I will show you how to configure the Remote Desktop Web Connection and use Internet Explorer as a remote client to connect to your XP machine.

Installing the Remote Desktop Web Connection
To connect to your machine from a remote location, you must install the Remote Desktop Web Connection on the Windows XP system you want to access remotely. This feature is basically a component of XP’s Internet Information Services (IIS).

To install the necessary files for the Remote Desktop Web Connection, you will need to have access to your Windows XP CD.

To Install IIS and the Remote Desktop Web Connection, follow these steps:

  1. From the Control Panel, click the Add/Remove Programs applet.
  2. Click Add/Remove Windows Components.
  3. Select Internet Information Services and click Details.
  4. Select World Wide Web Services from the Subcomponents of Internet Information Services and click Details.
  5. Select the Remote Desktop Web Connection check box and click OK.
  6. Click OK, then click Next to install and configure IIS and the Remote Desktop Web Connection.
  7. Click Finish when complete.

Configuring Remote Desktop
By default, the Remote Web Connection files are installed to the \\%systemroot%\Web\Tsweb directory of your Web server. Let’s verify that the files were installed correctly and make sure that anonymous access is selected:

  1. Open Start | Programs | Administrative Tools | Internet Information Services.
  2. Expand Local Computer | Web Sites | Default Web Site and select Tsweb, as shown in Figure A.

Figure A

  1. Right-click on Tsweb and click Properties.
  2. Click the Directory Security tab and choose Edit from Anonymous Access And Authentication Control.
  3. Check the Anonymous Access check box, as shown in Figure B, and then click OK twice.

Figure B

Once you’ve properly configured the Remote Desktop Web Connection, it’s time to configure this computer to use Remote Desktop:

  1. Go to Control Panel | System Properties and select the Remote tab to display the options shown in Figure C.

Figure C

  1. Select Allow Users To Connect Remotely To This Computer. You will see a dialog box reminding you to set up permissions and open up the appropriate ports on your firewall.
  2. Click the Select Remote Users button to open the dialog box shown in Figure D. Here, you can give the appropriate user(s) access to Remote Desktop. Click Add | Advanced | Find Now to display all of your users. Select your users and click OK.

Figure D


All Administrators have access regardless of whether they are added to the list.

Connecting remotely
You’re now ready to connect to your computer from another Windows machine running Internet Explorer 4.0 or greater.

  1. Open IE from any Windows machine on the same network.
  2. Go to http://computer_name /tsweb (or http://ip_address /tsweb), and you’ll see the Remote Desktop Web Connection page, shown in Figure E.

Figure E

  1. Type the computer name, choose your screen size/resolution, and click Connect.
  2. When you click the Connect button for the first time, you’ll be prompted to install the Microsoft Terminal Services Control. Click Yes and then enter your logon information, as we’ve done in Figure F.

Figure F

  1. Click OK to log on to the remote computer. You should now see a screen similar to Figure G.

Figure G


Remember that to connect to your XP system by computer name from a remote location, you must be connected to your network via dial-up or VPN. If your Windows XP machine has a static IP address, you can connect to it over the Internet using the static IP as well. If you don’t have a static IP address, you can connect with port forwarding from the router or firewall in front of the XP machine, although connecting via dial-up or VPN is much easier and more secure.

If you are connecting to the Windows XP system from another XP system, you can simply go to Start | Programs | Accessories | Communications | Remote Desktop Connection and enter the name or IP address of the machine you want to connect to, as shown in Figure H.

Figure H

If you want to use the above method from a computer running Windows 95, 98, NT 4.0, or 2000, insert the Windows XP CD and wait until it loads. From the startup screen, click Perform Additional Tasks and then click Set Up Remote Desktop Connection. Once installation is complete, you can access the Remote Desktop Connection client from Start | Programs | Accessories | Communications | Remote Desktop Connection.

You can now use either Internet Explorer or Windows XP’s Remote Desktop Connection client to connect to any remote system that is configured as a Remote Desktop host. With this functionality, you can connect to your computer from various locations to access your applications, files, contacts, etc. This feature provides solid functionality and good performance. It’s definitely worth taking a look at Windows XP if you think this feature can benefit employees who often need remote access to their systems from different locations.

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