Tech Tips / Windows XP / Remote Use and Management

Remote Desktop vs. Remote Assistance

In the past two tips, we've explored two of Windows XP's new features: Remote Desktop, which allows users to control their machines from a remote computer, and Remote Assistance, which lets users ask for help and allows them to give access to their computer to others. While both features involve remote access, they have different uses.

Both of these features use the same underlying technology, but they're quite different from the user’s perspective. Remote Desktop is for users who want to work on the remote computer. On the other hand, Remote Assistance allows people to offer and ask for help remotely.

Let's look at some of the other differences.

  • Remote Assistance requires an invitation. If you want to connect to a remote computer, the user must invite you. After you connect, the remote user needs to manually grant you access. There's no invitation and granting process with Remote Desktop; you just connect to the remote computer and type your username and password.
  • Remote Desktop requires a username and password on the remote machine. With Remote Assistance, you don’t need the user account; the remote user manually grants you control when you connect. You can only use Remote Assistance when the user who needs help logs onto the remote computer.
  • With Remote Assistance, both users see the same desktop. With Remote Desktop, you're the only one who sees your desktop. Other users see the welcome screen.
  • You use the Help and Support Center with Remote Assistance; you use the Remote Desktop Connection with Remote Desktop.
  • Only users who have Windows XP can offer or accept help via Remote Assistance. With Remote Desktop, you can connect to Windows XP machines from computers running Windows 9x, Windows NT, and Windows 2000.
  • Only Windows XP Professional supports Remote Desktop. Remote Assistance is available on both Professional and Home Edition.

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