Microsoft delivers Remote Desktop app preview for Windows Phone 8.1

Microsoft delivers Remote Desktop app preview for Windows Phone 8.1

Summary: Microsoft has made available for download a preview version of its Remote Desktop app for Windows Phone 8.1.


On April 23, Microsoft quietly made available for download a preview of its Remote Desktop app for Windows Phone 8.1.


Many Windows Phone users were none too happy that Microsoft delivered Remote Desktop apps for Android phones and iPhones last fall with no word on when it planned to introduce a Windows Phone version. In March, Microsoft updated the Remote Desktop apps for Android, iOS and Mac OS X, still with no word as to when or how it would provide remoting for Windows Phone.

Remote Desktop allows users to connect to remote Windows PCs and access resources from those machines. Remote Desktop has been one of the most popular Windows Store apps among Windows 8 and Windows RT users. The licensing requirements for these apps are complex. Client-access licenses and supporting back-end infrastructure are required to make Remote Desktop work on Windows and non-Windows devices.

Like the other existing Remote Desktop apps, the Windows Phone 8.1 preview version is free. It is 1 MB in size. It's available in the Windows Phone Store.

Windows Phone 8.1 is available in developer preview form only at this time. It is expected to come to new and existing Windows Phone 8 phones starting this summer.

I've asked Microsoft officials when they expect the final version of the Windows Phone Remote Desktop app to be available and whether they have plans to add support for Windows Phone 8. No word back so far.

Update: Windows Phone Remote Desktop will not support any versions of Windows Phone earlier than 8.1, Microsoft officials confirmed. The final version will be available by the end of this year, they added. And while Remote Desktop Gateway support is not currently part of the preview, Microsoft is not saying whether this feature will remain unsupported by the time the final ships. (But since the Remote Desktop app for Windows does support Remote Desktop Gateway, I'd say there's a strong likelihood the Windows Phone 8.1 version ultimately will, too.)

Windows Phone 8.1 adds a number of enterprise-focused features back to Microsoft's phone OS. Enterprise VPN, supporting IPsec and SSL VPN gateways; enterprise Wi-Fi; certificate management; S/MIME support for secure email; the ability to lock down documents in OneDrive via information-rights-management software and policies are part of the release. Some of these features require users to provision via a mobile-device-management product/service. But some others, such as EAP authentication for WiFi, also can be manually provisioned and configured.

Update: Several users are reporting that the Remote Desktop app for Windows Phone appears to be a universal app, in that it recognizes that they have already downloaded the Windows version, and that they simply need to "reinstall" the WP one.

(Thanks to Robert Brand for the tip on Windows Phone 8.1 Remote Desktop's availability.)

Topics: Mobile OS, IT Priorities, Microsoft, Mobility, Windows, IT Policies, Windows Phone


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Great Things Are Finally Coming To Windows Phone

    It has taken a while, but the capabilities of WP will be much better by the end of the year then they are now. That should spur more apps to be developed that could not have been developed in the past.
    • Catch up

      It's only catch up. But since Android is running in circles, and iOS had to do catch up too, that might be good enough. Especially with universal apps.

      And they made development of Windows Phone apps a lot simpler, simply by removing some utterly retarded quirks (e.g. ListPicker/ComboBox). I definitely won't build anything for 8.0 anymore.
      • I agree, iOS and Android far more...

        Windows is behind in terms of overall refinement and apps. However, lets talk about security. Please, don't talk hypotheticals, lets talk real, proven, demonstrated, actual security holes.

        WP is far ahead of Android, and even strong (safer) than iOS.
        • if security's your metric

          better ditch all of those and pick up a BlackBerry.
          • webOS trumps the 'berry

            by being more dead. Surely, nobody bothers pushing malware for webOS.
    • WP 8.1

      Any word when this upgrade will be available for the Verizon HTC WP8X?
      • Depends

        If you don't care about getting the official HTC version with the official HTC upgrades, and can live with the MS version instead, then it's already available.

        I run it on a Lumia 820 and 8.1 is 100% stable, not a single issue so far. Just google "Install Windows Phone 8.1". It is legal, but it does void your warranty.
  • Seriously?

    I know it's only a preview currently, but seriously? No RD Gateway support?

    Plus, I don't actually like its touch paradigm. On this, the only thing it appears to do is give you 1:1 touch mapping. Whereever you touch, it's as if you were touching on the PC you're remoting to. However, a lot of that interaction is terrible on a small screen. There's a competitor app "ConnectMe" in the Store that uses RDP as well that I feel does it better on a small screen. It treats the entire screen as a touchpad so that you're dragging a cursor around.

    Between those two things (mostly the RD Gateway part), the MS-developed app is near useless to me and I'll personally be sticking to ConnectMe.
    • Oops

      Sorry, I have to take that second part back. Apparently if you tap on the server name, it gives you the option for cursor manipulation.
  • Awesome

    Hopefully this kind of stuff will lead to wider adoption rates by corporations.
  • Teamviewer 9

    I use TeamViewer 9. it works on my windows 8 RT tablet, full W8.1 laptop, and WP8 It also has apps for iPhone, ipad, android. and the touch paradigm works well as you see a small arrow over the screen just off from where you are touching so you can be precise on where you touch. It works great for me.
    • For enterprise...

      You have to purchase licensing and they are not cheap for a few but not bad if you are buying a bunch of them.
      Rann Xeroxx
  • funny, Android just beat them to the punch

    Ironically, the easiest and most universal way to access your Windows desktop is through Chrome remote available on most platforms that can run a Chrome browser, or with the new Android app that is extremely slick. I use them both many times a day on tablet, phone, desktop. And that Android app is like a tiny 2MB download. Amazing.

    MS's version has always been pretty kludgy even just pc to pc.
    • You're Funny!

      Did you even bother to read the title of the article?

    • You have no idea what you are talking about

      RDP is based on a licensed Citrix technology and presents the user with a terminal service of the desktop. For Windows to Windows PCs, it offers the very best experience for remoting. This is how I work remote half the week. You have to VPN to use it so that is a limitation.

      I tried the Chrome browser remote plugin but it would not pass my corporate firewall. TeamViewer works much better and has a app for all devices, even Linux.
      Rann Xeroxx
  • A waist of time

    Any development for Windows phone 8 is a waist of time. They need to focus on Windows phone 9 with all of their developers because Windows phone 8 is a known failure so developers will never develop for this platform. Microsoft is wasting their time on Windows 8 which everybody hates. They need to bury 8 forever.
    Tim Jordan
    • the hundreds of thousands of WP8 apps seem to prove you wrong

      but don't let facts stop you from telling everyone how the sky is falling.
    • My company just wrapping up our W7 roll out. If W8 would have been out when we started testing, we would have rolled out it, although just like with service packs, we would have waited for 8.1.

      No hate for W8, its just a lot different. Once you get use to it, its a very nice OS.
      Rann Xeroxx
    • Haha...

      You do understand that the amount of API features have nothing to do with the name of the OS right? WP 8.1 is a huge difference for developers even if its not called WP 9. And they could call it WP 9 if they wanted to.

      Names are just names and have nothing to do with actual amount of changes in software. Please do understand that Chrome 50.0 doesnt have 5 times more features than IE 10.0, ok?
  • My advice

    Take a hike! Windows 8.1 works very well and there are upcoming improvements. I'm sure Windows 9 will be an even better system, but there is no reason to wait for Windows 9. Windows 8.1 is an excellent system and will become inclemently better between now and the time Windows 9 is released.