Will Verduzco · Oct 18, 2013 at 05:30 am

Microsoft Releases (Free) Remote Desktop Client for Android

Here on the XDA Portal, we normally don’t talk about applications developed by large corporate developers. We instead prefer focusing on the impressive development works created by our own community members (especially of the open source variety), as these creations demonstrate that when passion and dedication combine, greatness is sure to follow. That said, we make some exceptions every now and then when well warranted. Recently, Google released a couple of waves of updates for their first party Android apps. Now, Microsoft is making a rather large splash of its own on the Android platform with its free remote desktop client for Android (and iOS).

Microsoft’s Remote Desktop client (as expected) functions much like other remote desktop clients. You first must enter in the target computer’s IP address, as well as stored credentials (optional). From there, and assuming you have your firewall options taken care of, you are connected instantly and without strife. The app even supports multiple login credentials, multiple remote desktop servers, and gives users the ability to designate favorite connections. And for those concerned about security, the client fully supports Network Level Authentication on supported OSes.

Navigation once connected is ever-so-slightly cumbersome with this app. For starters, to pan around the screen, you must click the pan button in the top menu bar, place your finger in the center of the screen, and then pan around. Apps like the for-pay Jump Desktop do this a bit better allowing for both a virtual mouse and panning when in the same context. Unfortunately, there are only two zoom levels, and there is no pinch-zoom functionality yet. Keyboard functionality and remte sounds work wonderfully, though. Target PC sounds can easily be routed to the client computer, and the keyboard works very responsively as well.

Microsoft’s Remote Desktop client is easiest to setup the system across a home LAN using internal IPs. However, if you devote a few minutes to port forwarding on your home router, there’s nothing stopping you from using an external IP and accessing your remote desktop from anywhere in the world. Unlike many other RDCs with their own proprietary compression schemes, Microsoft’s implementation supports Microsoft’s proprietary RemoteFX, which leverages the power of the client device’s GPU to perform local rendering for a smoother overall experience. As you would expect, the app’s responsiveness is quite nice. However, this also means that those nifty pseudo-3D themes like Aero Glass won’t work when connected via your mobile device. Function over form, though, we say!

All-in-all, this is a fantastic first effort. We’d like to see a bit more in terms of navigation control in future versions—namely pinch-zoom and a better way of panning (perhaps two-finger swiping for pan?). However, these are relatively minor quibbles. The overall experience is pretty good for a first try, and is only bound to get better with time. Most importantly, update speed and device responsiveness are both more than acceptable. Oh, and did we mention that unlike many of the other remote desktop clients, this one is free?

If you’ve got a supported version of Windows and are looking for a remote desktop client, you should add Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Client to your short list to try out. The application is available in the Google Play Store.


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Will Verduzco

willverduzco is an editor on XDA-Developers, the largest community for Android users. Will Verduzco is the Portal Administrator for the XDA-Developers Portal. He has been addicted to mobile technology since the HTC Wizard. But starting with the Nexus One, his gadget love affair shifted to Google's little green robot. He is also a Johns Hopkins University graduate in neuroscience and is now currently studying to become a physician. View willverduzco's posts and articles here.
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