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Microsoft Readies Windows 10 Remote Desktop App

Microsoft's Remote Desktop application for Windows 10 clients will reach general availability in "the next couple of weeks," the company said recently.

Moreover, this new Windows 10 "Universal Windows Platform" app version will replace current Remote Desktop 8.1 versions on devices running the Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile operating systems. This replacement will happen automatically for those who had downloaded Remote Desktop 8.1 from the Store app on Windows 10 machines.

Here's how Microsoft described that automatic upgrade process in its announcement:

If you were already using our Windows 8.1 or Windows Phone 8.1 versions of the app on Windows 10, you will be automatically upgraded to the Windows 10 version of the app the next time the Store updates your list of installed applications once your device is selected to upgrade through the rollout process.

Upgrade Issues
The automatic upgrade of Remote Desktop 8.1 on Windows 10 clients will preserve some settings, but it won't be a totally smooth upgrade experience. Microsoft's announcement noted the following potential issues:

  • Passwords need to be reentered
  • Remote resources URLs are preserved from Windows Phone 8.1 but require new sign in
  • Remote resources are not preserved from Windows 8.1 and need to be re-added

While the Remote Desktop app for Windows 10 is now considered to be a commercial-grade release by Microsoft, it doesn't support some features that are currently available in Remote Desktop 8.1. Microsoft listed the following unsupported features in the new client:

  • Multiple simultaneous connections
  • Dynamic resolution and rotation
  • Printer redirection
  • Smartcard redirection
  • Microphone support
  • Localized app (currently English only)

If those limitations are a problem, users should switch to the Remote Desktop Connections app that comes with Windows, Microsoft's announcement advised. The option of blocking the upgrade wasn't described.

The new Remote Desktop app for Windows 10 now has support for Azure Remote App, giving access to applications running in Microsoft's datacenters, according to an April Microsoft announcement. It's also possible now to pin apps and desktops to the Start Menu of the Remote Desktop app.

Windows Store Options
The Windows Store will continue to show options to install either the "Remote Desktop app" or the "Microsoft Remote Desktop Preview" app, even though the latter app is out of preview for Windows 10 users, Microsoft's announcement noted. The Remote Desktop app choice "has a slower update cadence and minimized risks," while the preview "may have more bugs and crashes," the announcement explained. It's possible to run both versions side by side.

The more stable Remote Desktop app also runs on Android, iOS, Mac OS X, as well as Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 devices.

In March, Microsoft added multiple monitor support for its Remote Desktop for Mac preview, along with copy-and-paste support. However, this preview isn't for production environments, Microsoft noted at the time.

For IT pros supporting Remote Desktop Services on the Windows Server platform, Microsoft noted in February that it currently updates three Knowledge Base articles on a regular basis to list all of its Remote Desktop Services updates. A future "optimization guide for each Windows Server release" will be coming to simplify these long lists, Microsoft promised then, although it didn't say when it would arrive.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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