Microsoft has announced the launch of iOS and Android applications designed to provide full compatibility with its Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP), providing easy mobile control of Windows-based desktops and laptops.
Microsoft's Remote Desktop app, free for Android and iOS smartphones and tablets, includes video and audio streaming and full RemoteFX gesture support.
Part of the company's continued progression to becoming a 'devices and services company,
' as kicked off by outgoing chief executive Steve Ballmer, the Microsoft Remote Desktop app is provided free of charge to all and provides support for both RDP and the newer RemoteFX control protocols.
The result, Microsoft claims, is a stable and well-supported first-party application for controlling a Windows-based system from a tablet or smartphone. The initial release includes support for desktop and application streaming and control, video and audio streaming, Network Layer Authentication (NLA) security, a Connection Centre for quick access to remote systems, support for Remote Desktop Gateways, and support for multi-touch gestures.
With Microsoft heavily pushing touch with its Modern UI, a major feature of both Windows 8 and the freshly-launched Windows 8.1, a move to move the Windows desktop onto the touch-screen devices a large percentage of its customers already have makes sense. While some may see it as an admission from the company that its own tablet and mobile platforms, Windows RT and Windows Phone, have failed to make inroads into enterprise markets, those who already make use of RDP are unlikely to complain about a free first-party application for their mobile devices.
Initial reviews, however, are mixed. Many claim it fails to challenge third-party RDP products already available for iOS and Android platforms, and lacks common features such as pinch-to-zoom. The majority of users have rated the release well, though, and Microsoft is unlikely to rest on its laurels and will be addressing criticisms in due course.
The iOS release, compatible with iOS 6 and higher on iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch devices, is available for free from the iTunes Store
. The Android build, which requires Android 2.2 or higher, can be found on Google Play