Remote Assistance in Windows 7

Today I had a random reason to use the built-in Remote Assistance features of Windows 7.  I was helping troubleshoot an issue with a vendor on a user’s machine, using the user’s session.  Here are some things I noticed about the Remote Assistance that differs from a regular Remote Desktop session.

  • Remote Assistance will give you a view of all the users screens with the full screen resolution.  In this case the end user had 3 monitors, so I had to expand my view the that machine across the majority of my 3 monitors in order for it to be usable.  Normally when you do a simple remote desktop session, all the applications and desktop icons from multiple monitors are fitted to one screen.  This may or may not annoy you, depending on how you like to work with remote systems.
  • Remote Assistance really assumes you have a person sitting at the computer.  As the remote support person, it’s very easy to accidentally loose your rights to control the remote desktop by hitting Escape or Cntl-Escape.  You need the end user to re-authorize your request for control. (My end user used this troubleshooting time as an excuse to get coffee, so I had to run back to the desk to authorize that a few times.)
  • Remote Assistance blocks your ability to send email using the users email application, in this case, Outlook 2007. While I can see how this is good from a security standpoint, it was a hurdle when I wanted to use the email account to send some log files to the vendor.

The Remote Assistance features can certainly be handy depending on what a remote support person needs to be able to do on a user’s workstation.  I’ll probably use it again, but only when I’ve got someone sitting there to help with any control issues, since the whole point of using it is to save me from having to leave my desk!

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