Microsoft updates its free remote desktop apps for iOS, Mac, Android

Microsoft updates its free remote desktop apps for iOS, Mac, Android

Summary: Microsoft is updating its remote desktop applications for non-Windows platforms, but still has yet to make available a Microsoft-developed version for Windows Phone.


Microsoft has updated its free remote desktop apps for iOS, Mac OS X and Android, but still has no remote desktop app available on Windows Phone.


Microsoft updated its Microsoft Remote Desktop app to version 8.0.5 on iOS on March 15; on Mac OS X on March 12; and on Android on March 16. Microsoft introduced the new Remote Desktop clients for iOSand Android last fall. It also overhauled its Mac OS X remote client at that time. Since then, Microsoft has been providing incremental updates to all three clients.

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.

On Android, the 8.0.5 update includes a number of bug fixes, plus optimization for remote experiences on high-resolution displays. The app requires Android 2.2 or higher. On Mac OS X, the 8.0.5 update fixes an issue where "Access Denied" was returned during Windows logon even though credentials were correct. It fixes a number of other unspecified bugs, as well. It requires OS X 10.6.0 or later. On iOS, the 8.0.5 update adds audio quality improvements, as well as unspecified bug fixes. It requires iOS 6.0 or later.

Microsoft officials have said that a Remote Desktop app for Windows Phone is coming, but haven't said when. I asked today if there was any new information to share on that and a spokesperson said there was not.

Microsoft is expected to make available a number of enterprise-focused features for Windows Phone as part of its Windows Phone 8.1 release. But no one from Microsoft has said publicly whether a remote desktop capability will be among those features or delivered some time after Windows Phone 8.1 is available commercially.

Microsoft updated its the Windows client version of its Remote Desktop app last year to support Windows 8.1.

Topics: Virtualization, Android, Apple, Enterprise Software, iOS, Windows 8, 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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  • The RDP app is based on stuff they bought from iTap

    I have the new Microsoft RDP and its almost identical to the old iTap, except slight difference in the skin of the app. Main difference is I paid for iTap and this is free.... argh.
    • rdp

      i've been reading zdnet daily in the past 4 years, but this is my first comment; saying that teamviewer is better to connect to a windows machine is crazy.
      • Different

        TeamViewer is different, not better or worse. We have an enterprise licenses and I use it for support and quick mobile access to my work desktop (running 24/7) but when I work remote from home I VPN and RDP as this is 10x better experience.
        Rann Xeroxx
    • old iTap

      The original iTap would let you change your iPad orientation - landscape/portrait.
      The MS-ified version locks you into portrait mode.
      MS also took away the "iTap Mobile Connect," which was an agent that ran on your pc that enabled rdp access from anywhere on the internet. I guess MS is trying to protect their remote gateway services, which requires Windows Server.
      • well

        Of course you can make rdp work without Windows server, all that is needed is a portforward. Might not be the safest of options, but my guess is that the same applies to the feature you are referring to.
  • the rdp software sucks anyway

    teamviewer is very good, uninstall the ms rdp.
    • Is Teamview desktop-sharing only?

      I've used Teamviewer for desktop sharing (helping friends while sharing screen) over the internet, and it is good. But for RDP, I need to have the local user logged out, so the remote user logs in. Otherwise it is a security risk. You can't have people in your office watching your screen while you are at home working.
      Can Teamviewer log the local user out?
    • You obviously have no idea what

      RDP is, otherwise you would realize the risks. I use both, TeamViewer for help and assistance to users when they need help and RDP for real work.
      • rdp isn't the same principle as teamviewer

        For what it does, rdp is more secure and offers more features. For desktop sharing, teamviewer isn't bad, except for their business practices, which aren't very good from a paying user perspective.

        That's why we are going with lync desktop sharing instead of teamviewer, as we use lynch for IM anyway.
        • Moving in that direction

          TV is just not that expensive and the license is a pool so we can install it on thousands of PCs and only pay for what we use concurrently.

          But we are also a Lync shop and have been trying the Lync desktop sharing. Not as good as TV for support, good for meetings though.
          Rann Xeroxx
  • I went away from Teamviewer and Logmein to.....

    to ImPCRemote....

    there is a free version works well but limited and I purchased the Pro vesion for Euro$29.00.

    Works well with 12 admin and unlimited Clients. If you want 2 Admins then purchase another Admin licence.

    WELL worth a look at. Carl
  • Call me old-fashioned...

    but for helpdesk stuff, I still use Remote Assistance. Easy Connect in Remote Assistance works as good as anything like GoToMyPC, but doesn't cost a cent because it's in every Windows version from Vista on, and I'm not supporting XP clients after the end of support. I've never had any major problems with it, other than that you need to run a netsh command one time on a computer if you are using it within a domain network, due to IPv6 stuff that Remote Assistance uses.

    I use RDP for my work stuff because I have a VM on a Hyper-V server at my business that handles dev and more advanced office tasks. I could use a Windows RT system as my main computer because of that. I had a Surface 1, but switched to an Asus Transformer Book T100 after using it for a year and deciding it was time to flip it to keep current. I don't use desktop applications on the T100 other than Office. Everything that is dev-related is run in a VM because I find development tools such as Visual Studio and WebMatrix tend to install lots of components that can get messed up pretty easily when you start getting a lot of updates for them. It's easier to rebuild a VM from a template than to wipe an entire PC.
  • Rather have an rdp that allows take over an Android or iOS device

    In my daily work, I support a lot of devices: PC's but also Android and iOS machines. I would love a piece of software that allows me to take over the last kind, remotely.
    • Samsung

      No help with the iOS devices but Samsung worked with TeamViewer and you can install host on any of their (newer) devices and take over the device (without root). I have used it and its not bad if there is good bandwidth.
      Rann Xeroxx