Windows Vista: Remote Assistance

Windows XP introduced a new feature called Remote Assistance that enabled XP users to help each other over the Internet.  Helpdesk personnel were able to view and even share control of their network users machines using Remote Assistance.  However, with the launch of Windows Vista, Helpdesk staff ran into a new issue.  It is no […]

Windows XP introduced a new feature called Remote Assistance that enabled XP users to help each other over the Internet.  Helpdesk personnel were able to view and even share control of their network users machines using Remote Assistance.  However, with the launch of Windows Vista, Helpdesk staff ran into a new issue.  It is no longer possible to offer unsolicited Remote Assistance from Windows XP (expert) to Windows Vista (novice).

This is because the Help & Support Service which is the cornerstone of Remote Assistance in Windows XP, was deprecated in Windows Vista.   When you offer Remote Assistance from a Windows XP client, it needs to instantiate the HelpSvc DCOM object on the target machine.  On a Windows Vista client, this object does not exist.  When you attempt to offer assistance from an XP machine to a Vista machine, the following error is presented:

 RemoteAssistance

If you look in the system log on the Windows XP machine when you get the "Automation Server Can't Create Object" error, you will find the following error in the System Log:

Event Type: Error
Event Source: DCOM
Event Category: None
Event ID: 10006
Date: 11/6/2006
Time: 5:02:15 AM
User: <DOMAIN>\<USERNAME>
Computer: <NAME OF THE XP MACHINE>
Description:
DCOM got error "Class not registered " from the computer <TARGET MACHINE> when attempting to activate the server:
{833E4010-AFF7-4AC3-AAC2-9F24C1457BCE}

For more information, see Help and Support Center at: http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/events.asp

If you search the Registry on a Windows Vista machine for that CLSID, it does not exist. On a Windows XP machine, that CLSID refers to the Help & Support Services Service (HKCR\CLSID\{833E4010-AFF7-4AC3-AAC2-9F24C1457BCE}).

To work around this issue, use one of the following methods:

1) Use a Windows Vista Machine as the Expert machine
2) The Vista machine can send an invitation either via email or by using a file invitation that the XP machine can use to connect

A quick note here: If by some chance you have the RDP6 Beta Client installed on the XP machine, then the HelpCtr.exe may crash with an Access Violation. This issue is fixed in the RTM version of the RDP6 client.

Additional Resources:

Performance Team Blog

microsoft, windows vista, remote assistance, knowledgebase