Remote desktop tools are the best option if you need to use a computer without being physically present. Different software offer different features, so it’s important to find the best remote desktop software (opens in new tab) for your business.
Microsoft Remote Desktop is one of the most commonly used remote desktop applications, and it provides strong features for both personal and business contexts. In our Microsoft Remote Desktop review, we’ll examine the software’s pros and cons and see how it compares to other remote desktop solutions.
Microsoft Remote Desktop: Plans and pricing
While Microsoft Remote Desktop is compatible with all versions of Windows 8 and 10, only WIndows Pro and Enterprise users can set up their computers to be accessed remotely. In other words, any computer running Windows 8 or 10, including the Home edition, can be used to access another device, but that device needs to be running the Pro or Enterprise version of Windows.
Windows 10 Pro costs $200 and up. If you’re currently running Home and want to upgrade to Pro for remote desktop access, go to Update and Security and then Activation from the settings menu. Home to Pro upgrades are currently $99.
Microsoft Remote Desktop: Features and utilities
Users can access remote devices from a computer or by downloading the mobile app on iOS or Android. Either way, Microsoft Remote Desktop provides a seamless experience that’s almost as good as having the computer in front of you.
If you’re using a mobile device, the app includes separate keys for modifiers like control, alt, and option. This enables you to perform keyboard shortcuts as if you were physically using the computer.
Similarly, Microsoft Remote Desktop gives users access to files stored on the remote computer, making it easy to print or share documents from any location. You can also set your desktop to stay awake when not in use to prepare for a remote connection. Your admin can publish resources for remote access, including virtual desktops, session-based desktops, and RemoteApp programs.
Microsoft Remote Desktop: Setup
To set up a connection in Microsoft Remote Desktop, click Add, then enter the computer’s name and your user account. Keep in mind that the host computer also needs to be configured to accept remote connections. This option is available in System Settings under Remote Desktop.
The Settings app also contains an option to allow remote desktop connections from other user accounts. These need to be approved in advance to create a remote connection later on. You should also write down the name of the host computer, which you can find under “How to connect to this PC.”
Microsoft Remote Desktop: Interface and performance
The Remote Desktop app runs well and comes with a sleek interface. Unfortunately, local users are logged out while using Remote Desktop, so we didn’t have a way to test the lag between devices.
After opening the application, you’ll be able to add a new connection or adjust settings. The simple and clear interface makes it easy to understand how to set up remote desktop connections.
Performance was excellent throughout our tests, with videos and other types of dynamic content displaying well on the remote device. Of course, results may vary depending on your internet connection and the kind of work you’re doing.
Microsoft Remote Desktop: Security
As in other areas of the app, Microsoft provides powerful security tools without making them obvious. You can create a secure environment for Microsoft Remote Desktop in a few simple steps.
For example, the Local Security Policy app includes an option to limit remote access to certain groups. It’s easy to mandate manual whitelisting for each new connection—just click Local Policies, then User Rights Assignment, and finally Allow Log On through Remote Desktop Services. From there, you can add individual users in Settings under Remote Desktop.
Current versions of Microsoft Remote Desktop come with network level authentication, which automatically verifies users through the network before connecting them to the device.
Microsoft Remote Desktop: Support
The Microsoft website contains help articles covering a variety of topics, including several on Remote Desktop. If you don’t find the information you need, you can also search the support forum or create a new post. The community is extremely active, so you shouldn’t have any trouble getting help.
Alternatively, the Get Help app is the best way to get one-on-one support in Windows 10. Help is provided by Windows Advisors. There aren’t any listed support hours, and response times can be unpredictable—we waited for more than ten minutes before closing the chat window to receive an email reply.
Microsoft Remote Desktop: Final verdict
Microsoft Remote Desktop is unnecessarily complex, with two distinct Windows apps and additional options in both Settings and Local Security Policy. That said, it provides strong remote desktop performance on Windows 10.
Furthermore, it gives users helpful tools like seamless access to remote files, function keys on mobile devices, and remote resources like virtual and session-based desktops. All things considered, Microsoft Remote Desktop is a convenient and powerful solution if you need to access a desktop remotely.
Microsoft Remote Desktop offers important advantages compared to Chrome Remote Desktop, one of the most popular free remote desktop applications. For example, Chrome Remote Desktop doesn’t support file transfers between devices, and the mobile app is limited to the normal smartphone keyboard.
On the other hand, certain paid solutions include critical features for some business contexts. TeamViewer provides comprehensive reporting, integration with CRM and helpdesk systems, and a dedicated Management Console that enables administrators to manage connections throughout their organization. Team licenses cost $199 per month, while Multi User and Single User are $99 and $49, respectively.
To find our more about Microsoft Remote Desktop Manager, read our guide to the Best remote desktop software.