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Microsoft's Remote Desktop app for connecting to and controlling Windows machines is just a couple of months old, and so far it's been pretty well-received. It had two updates already - not bad for a major company developing on a competing platform - and today's 8.0.3 adds perhaps the most important new feature: NetBIOS name resolution.

2013-12-14 20.19.30

"Hooray! NetBIOS name resolution! That's my favorite remote desktop feature ever!" I hear you cry. Well if you don't know what that means off the top of your head, you're in good company (including me). Basically it lets you type in the assigned name of the computer you're connecting to on the local network instead of the IP address. "Enterprise" is a whole lot easier to remember than "," and it should save you from digging through your router UI or bugging your network administrator. Most remote desktop clients can do this already, but it's nice to see the folks in Redmond are keeping an eye on the Android version.

Previous additions to the app include more zooming options, better stylus input, and the usual bug fixes and performance enhancements. You'll still need a compatible edition of Windows to use Remote Desktop: Window 8 Enterprise or Pro, Windows 7 Ultimate, Enterprise, or Professional, Vista Ultimate, Enterprise, or Business, XP Professional, and most versions of Windows Server.

Thanks, TheManii!

Michael Crider
Michael is a native Texan and a former graphic designer. He's been covering technology in general and Android in particular since 2011. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.

  • leviwhite9

    This update also now lets this app work on my computer!

    • Youri

      really? ill try it, I could never figure out how to set it up

      • Kevin

        You'll need to enable it on your PC first, though. on XP or 7, right click your "My computer" icon and go to Properties. Then go to the "remote" tab and enable remote desktop connections (not remote assistance; that's different). on Windows 8 or 8.1, go to Control Panel > System > Remote Settings (on the left) and "Allow remote connections to this computer".

        • David Rados

          I've got this all set up to run when I'm on my local network, but can't figure out how to get this to work when I'm on mobile network. Running Windows 7.

          • Kevin

            If you want to do that, go into your router and forward port 3389 to your machine. Then you can put in your external IP and connect to that, at which point the router will forward all those packets to your desktop. If you want to make it easier, sign up for a hostname on dyndns.com or some other such service (there are tons).

          • David Rados

            Thank you so much! It works as it should now. I have to ask though, how did you determine that port 3389 was the correct port to forward?

          • Kevin

            That's the standard port for RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol). VNC uses 5900, also. Generally speaking, services such as those that wait for inbound connections use specific and well-known ports.

          • Scott

            What they haven't told you is leaving port 3389 directly exposed to the outside interface of your internet connection is not a good idea. You're giving anybody direct access to your computer. It's always best practice to use RDP over a secure VPN tunnel.

          • David Rados

            When you say anybody, what exactly would they need to gain access? My MAC address or my external ip address?

          • andy_o

            Your external address, but also your password.

          • Scott

            IP address and your password can be bypassed in many different ways.

          • id10terrordfw

            You have to forward port 3389 in your router, like you would for a torrent client or other purposes. Then you have to know your external IP address and connect to that. Internal NetBIOS names will not resolve over the internet.

          • Cheeseball

            Yeah, the RDP is not really meant to be used over the internet without going through a VPN or RD Gateway. Try using TeamViewer or LogMeIn.

        • MJ

          Guys, why even bothering with this app? It's meant for enterprise use in a Windows only environment. A typical user who wants to actually connect to any PC at home should save the headache and use something like TeamViewer.

          • Cheeseball

            Because RDP is easier to configure compared to TeamViewer, especially if the end user left their PC's configuration at default settings. The RDP protocol is native to Windows itself, so it connects and authenticates faster than other remote access solutions.

            The only advantage TeamViewer has going for it is the fact that it uses UPnP to avoid network configuration. You still need to enable the LAN function in it's settings before you can use it locally.

          • MJ

            Ummmmm... No! You just install an app on your PC to use TeamViewer and basically done. 90% of people are not running a version of Windows on their home PC that will work with Microsoft Remote Desktop. Mac or Linux? Forget it... TeamViewer will work with both of them and any version of Windows.

          • Cheeseball

            That's the problem with TeamViewer. You need to install it on both ends in order to use it. It's great for online meetings and collaborations though.

            RDP is available in ALL versions of Windows. It's just that the Home-editions lack the Remote Desktop Connection client. This has been tested on Windows XP Home w/ SP3, Windows 7 Home Premium w/ SP1 and Windows 8 non-Pro.

          • MJ

            Installing a simple app is a problem? Microsoft's instructions that the Microsoft Desktop Remote won't work on Windows' home versions is wrong? ...or need to tweak something which sounds harder then installing a simple program?

            Regardless, my original point is this app is Windows only. A lot of people have more then one PC (or a family member's PC sometimes need to remote into) need to access and may be a Mac or in my case a Linux box. I would think most people just want one Remote desktop app. You work for Microsoft or something?

            P.S. TeamViewer 4.7 rating in Google Play store and Microsoft Desktop Remote 4.1

          • Cheeseball

            Clarification: Looks like you can remote FROM a Home edition, but NOT INTO a Home edition. This is where TeamViewer would be useful.

            Installing a simple app can be a problem since it's an extra step in something already available, at least for those who already have Pro+ editions of Windows 7, Vista and XP. There's no need to tweak anything for the average home user, unless they've changed some specific settings.

            Besides, RDP is meant to be used over LAN and not over the internet. Again, another case where TeamViewer would be useful.

            Of course this is Windows-only because this is the MICROSOFT Remote Desktop app using their own proprietary protocol (RDP) made for Windows. if I wanted to remote into a MacOS X or *nix with a desktop environment, then TeamViewer or LogMeIn would be fine.

            And IMO, Google Play ratings aren't trustworthy when you can try the App yourself for free.

          • MJ

            Great, you now agree with my original points.

            Yes, Microsoft Remote Desktop would be an acceptable app I guess if just wanted to only remote into Entesprise/Pro Windows boxes.

          • Cheeseball

            Right, the point that I was trying to make is that TeamViewer would not be a viable solution if a user is working within a LAN and if they had a Pro+ version of Windows, which is what RDP and this App is meant for.

      • leviwhite9

        Yeah, I couldn't get it to work for me before now. Kevin gave great advice for setting it up.

  • Tomáš Petrík

    I really doubt there would be a reader of this website who doesn't know what NetBIOS name resolution is.

    • Rick Perez

      I don't... Kinda...

      • Rick Perez

        But I kinda guessed right.

    • Cody Curry

      I didn't know it was called that, because it's not a descriptive name.

      Is there anyone on this website that can't remember a handful of important assigned IPs?

      • Britt Lewis

        my&nbspbest&nbspfriend's&nbspex-wife&nbspΜ­­­­­­а­­­­­­K­­­­­­е­­­­­­ѕ&nbsp$­­­­81/hr&nbspon&nbspthe&nbspі­­­­­­ո­­­­­­τ­­­­­­е­­­­­­r­­­­­­ո­­­­­­е­­­­­­τ.&nbspShe&nbsphas&nbspbeen&nbspfired&nbspfrom&nbspW­­­­­­ο­­­­­­r­­­­­­K&nbspfor&nbsp6&nbspΜ­­­­­­ο­­­­­­ո­­­­­­τ­­­­­­հ­­­­­­ѕ&nbspbut&nbsplast&nbspΜ­­­­­­ο­­­­­­ո­­­­­­τ­­­­­­հ&nbspher&nbspρ­­­­­­а­­­­У&nbspwas&nbsp$­­­­15000&nbspjust&nbspW­­­­­­ο­­­­­­r­­­­­­King&nbspon&nbspthe&nbspі­­­­­­ո­­­­­­τ­­­­­­е­­­­­­r­­­­­­ո­­­­­­е­­­­­­τ&nbspfor&nbspa&nbspϜ­­­­­­е­­­­­­W&nbspհ­­­­­­ο­­­­­­ս­­­­­­rs.&nbspRead&nbspFull&nbspReport, ....Pe rfe ct2 3 .C o m

        ▲▉▲■ ▲■▲▉ ▲■▲▉ ▲■▲▉ ▲■▲■ ▲■▲▉▲■▲■ ▲■▲▉ ▉Then go to the "remote" tab and enable remote desktop connections (not remote assistance; that's different).

    • imneveral0ne

      I sure didn't. You don't have to be in the know about that lingo, to love android.

      • Tomáš Petrík

        For me, the term is as obvious as MAC address, DHCP server, DNS, RAM, or HTTP...
        It's not directly connected to Android, but it is elementary enough for people with IT background. At least that's what I thought.

        • Mike Reid

          NetBIOS flash from the past, LOL.

          I did a lot of network software development 20-25 years ago w/ NetBIOS (and IP and Novell's IPX), on dos, OS/2 and windows 3.1-NT. (Yeah, I'm THAT old...)

          I figured it was dead and buried by 2000, with Internet IP becoming the protocol of choice.

          But I guess MS kept it soldiering on, taken from IBM but I guess originally from Sytek on those early thousand dollar network cards.

          Just the thought of those Interrupt based BIOS and DOS APIs makes me happy for modern APIs. Netbios interrupt 5Ch.

        • MJ

          Yes, I work in IT so know what NetBIOS is but why would you think the typical Android user (even hardcore one) would know that? Just being a dick today?

          • Tomáš Petrík

            What, why? No! By the number of downvotes I assume that most people misunderstood me.
            I was just saying that for me it was an obvious IT knowledge (Android or not) and I thought it was the same for others too, that's all. What's being a dick about it?

          • MJ

            Huh? Maybe you should re-read your comment --> "I really doubt there would be a reader of this website who doesn't know what NetBIOS name resolution is"

            You said a "reader of this website"... You do know this is a Android news site and not a general IT/tech/networking site, yes?

          • Tomáš Petrík

            Yes I know, but I also know (feel / assume / something else) that a person geeky enough to go to Android-related blog is highly likely to be generally tech-savvy as well.

  • Adrian

    Good working with 8.1 :)

  • Rich Nahra

    At home we do not have local DNS servers so i can see how NETBIOS would help. But in an enterprise wouldn't it just use DNS obtained from DHCP for hostname resolution? NETBIOS isn't going to help you outside your local subnet unless you have a WINS server.

    • bob

      You may have a DNS server running on your router that handles these duties at home

    • Cheeseball

      If you have a router (or a modem that supports DHCP), then technically that would be your DNS server.

      • Rich Nahra

        External DNS yes, but internally no.

  • http://www.twitter.com/ninjustin ninjustin

    This is only really helpful if you are using remote desktop inside your network. If your outside expect some router configuration. Logmein simple it's not.

  • Allan roger

    I often use Microsoft RDP for remotely accessing computers over same network. For accessing my work computer from home, I use RHUB remote support appliance. It is easy to use and best part is, I can remotely start an unattended support session any time.