The Remote Desktop Protocol, or RDP, allows you to access machines remotely. It’s a very useful piece of technology that has undoubtedly saved more than a few system admins over the years. RDP has a long history of providing better and better remote access support. It was introduced in 1998 for Windows NT 4.0 Terminal Server
Edition (TSE) and has evolved in almost every release of Windows® since.
Beginning with Windows 2000, almost anyone could easily access a server system remotely because Terminal Services was introduced as an optional Windows component and could be configured so you could use the system either as an actual Terminal Server or for what we call Remote Desktop today. Windows Server® 2003 and Windows XP delivered native Remote Desktop functionality, allowing you to control the system as if you were there locally. Today, I use Remote Desktop every day to access my home PC and server remotely, and to use my Media Center Extender.
Windows XP and later versions of Windows added Remote Assistance, which provides an experience that is similar to Remote Desktop but designed for a local user to request assistance from a remote user. Continuing the evolution of remote access support, Windows Vista® now allows remote users to offer Remote Assistance, if permitted by Group Policy.
As you will see, Remote Desktop takes this powerful functionality to a whole new level, and you’ll appreciate all it has to offer. Of course there are some limitations to Remote Desktop, but there are many benefits as well. Let’s take a look at both.
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