Microsoft to launch new remote desktop apps for iOS, Android

Microsoft to launch new remote desktop apps for iOS, Android

Summary: Is Microsoft about to go to war with its long-time virtualization partner Citrix? It sure looks that way, given the imminent arrival of new Microsoft remote desktop apps for iOS, Android, and OS X.


Is Microsoft ready to go to war with its long-time virtualization partner Citrix? It definitely seems that way, given the company's announcement on October 7 that it will be rolling out new remote desktop apps for iOS and Android devices.

Microsoft officials didn't play up the coming Remote Desktop apps, which will be delivered alongside Windows Server 2012 R2. (The apps will be available for download in their respective application stores later this month.) In fact, all they got was a one-sentence mention, buried in a press release.

Once these new Remote Desktop apps, which include an overhauled version of the two-year-old Mac Remote Desktop client, are available, Microsoft will be providing access to virtual desktops on everything from Windows and Windows RT, to iOS, OS X and Android. Users will be able to connect from devices running these operating systems to Windows and Windows Servers to work with applications and files stored there.

As Microsoft Most Valuable Professional for desktop services Michel Roth noted, these new remote apps are "a pretty big deal." He noted that their existence shows Microsoft is "very serious about enabling BYOD [bring your own device] by means of desktop virtualization."

Roth blogged that the new remote clients are "not as basic or as 'v1' as you might expect." He noted that the iOS Remote Desktop app should support iOS 6 and 7 and the Android one should support Android versions as far back as Gingerbread (version 2.3). He added that the RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) level on these new apps is RDP 8(.1), "meaning you get all the user experience goodness that RDP 8 brought to desktop virtualization."

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.

Microsoft has not yet shared pricing and licensing specifics for the new Remote Desktop clients. And for those asking when/whether Microsoft will deliver a remote desktop client for Windows Phone, I've asked. If I get an answer, I'll update this post.

Update 1: Thanks to reader @gunnarwb, here's part of the pricing equation. The price of RDS CALs for Windows Server 2012 R2 is going up by 20 percent. Per-device RDS CALs will cost $102 per year, while per-user RDS CALs will cost $118 per year, as Redmond Magazine noted. Organizations with RDS CALs for Windows Server 2012 won't have to buy new CALs if they are upgrading to Windows Server 2012 R2.

Topics: Cloud, Android, Apple, iOS, Microsoft


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).

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Windows Phone App?

    You mention Windows 8, RT, iOS and Android. Please tell me Microsoft isn't ignoring their own platforms again and NOT making one for WP8??
    • RDP for WP8

      My exact thoughts
      • RDP auf WP8

        ja, mir auch. +1
    • Sorry Mary...

      You're way off. I've administered Citrix and RDP farms for years now. Microsoft has had similar technologies since they improved their Terminal server stack back in windows 2008. And they're still not on par with Citrix. Making a couple of mobile apps isn't going to do the trick.
      • Could you expound on what Citrix brings to the table that Microsoft and ...

        later versions of Termnial Services are lacking ? Trying to figure out the latest value add that Citrix has that Terminal Services (or whatever they are calling bundled capabilities in Windows these days) doesn't. Since you have to buy a CALfor Terminal Services anyway if you are going to use Citrix, it seems that starting with Microsoft solution to see if Citrix is really justified is worth checking (I know if you already own Citrix the renewal costs are not too bad, but initial purchase and yearly upgrade costs do add up).
      • RDP is fine in a server environment

        but falls flat on its face in other environments. Connecting to other WinPro machines is archaic. You either need static ip's, lookup LAN addresses manually or use Dynip services on the WAN side. MS should have integrated it better into Skydrive services instead of dropping it from Mesh. Instead the competition such as TeamViewer and Logmein have taken over.
        • Agreed

          The protocol itself is fine but more of a TeamViewer approach would bridge the gap. Your Skydrive idea seems like a winner.

          In response to 'jkohut', recalling my Citrix days, one big benefit is the management of a Citrix farm of servers and balancing load based on a number of factors is where I found it to be strong. Still, I was able to get some of this functionality using NLB but that only counts connections and does not take into account CPU, RAM and other utilization stats to balance load. In most of my deployments, and taking into account your observation that we still have to buy RDP CALs as well as Citrix CALs, skews the value proposition for small server farms.
        • @LarsDennert: RDP is a fine server environment

          I agree that RDS still has disadvantages but your comments lead me to believe that you might have missed the big picture of what Microsoft is about to do. MS does not care about connecting to local desktops (thus static public IP, dyndns and logmein are of no importance). What MS cares about is connecting to virtual cloud desktops (using BYoD's) that are in SDN 'private clouds' within the public Azure cloud platform. These virtual private clouds will contain your organizations computing assets. For now, only a small percentage (some servers, some desktops , some applications, etc) that might be 'hybrid' connected to your corporate network via vpn, etc and used by users via internal IP or Azure provisioned public IP's and RDS. This is a slightly different cloud computing model than pure cloud applications like Office365, hosted Exchange, iCloud, etc because it gives organizations 'privacy and know where your data/assets is/are' as well as a way for MS to continue to never be in the hardware business (except for owning data centers and Nokia BYoD's :-). If you are interested, we have built a DIY service that allows you to create private clouds and build you own VM's on a pay-as-needed basis at You can build and connect via public IP and RDS in 15 minutes. And, Skydrive will sync all data between your local device and your virtual desktop. We believe the SMB side of Azure will evolve to be similar to our service as time goes on.
    • M$ phone is dead

      and M$ is giving away phone apps just to keep windoze on life support!
      LlNUX Geek
      • Maybe you should change

        nick from Geek to Sick. You are not doing Linux comunity any favors by spamming.
        • Don't think that's the intent

          LG has been highly cartoonish for years, suggesting his primary interest is trolling, rather than "doing the Linux community any favors".
          John L. Ries
      • Hey Linux Geek, 1990 called

        they want you to stop using "M$" and "windoze" and come up with something new.
        • Re: they want you to stop

          Sounds nice. Now, how much do they pay for the favor?

          Let's hope Linux Geek finds the offer acceptable.
          • It's free.

            Just like Linux.
      • Double digit market share in parts of the world isn't dead.

        It's not a cash cow yet but they keep chipping away at market share.
        • I'm just curious

          Do you have a link to a somewhat reputable service to back up these claims. I haven't heard of desktop Linux in double digit numbers anywhere in the world.
          Sam Wagner
          • He means WP8.

            Windows Phone is popular in parts of the world and has put up some pretty decent 3rd-place numbers. This was a response to the statement that Windows Phone is dead, not to the ensuing comments about Linux.
    • WP8 - Remote Desktop

      With Topperware's Remote Desktop: it is pretty much like having remote desktop by Microsoft, as it is at least as good if not better than the app for Windows 8.
      • Thanks

        I'll give that a shot and see how it is!
    • Splashtop is available for all platforms :)

      Splashtop is available on Windows Phone 8, Windows, MAC, RT, iOS, Android, lackberry, Linux, webOS, etc.., and you can remote access any version of Windows, MAC, and also Ubuntu Linux.... Often, it's the 3rd party that has the strong commitment to have strong cross-platform support. Splashtop optimize not just for the OS, but also chip capabilities.... we invest to leverage hardware acceleration capabilities of Intel chipsets, NVIDIA GPU, AMD GPU/APU, Qualcomm Snapdragon, etc..

      -mark (CEO Splashtop)