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The Remote Desktop feature in Windows XP is the best thing since sliced bread, or at least pretty close. Using Remote Desktop, you can work from almost anywhere as if you were using your Windows XP Professional desktop at work. Which saves commuting time, makes you more productive when you're on the road, and even let's you quickly grab a song, picture, or file from your work computer when you're over at a friend's house. The possibilities are endless and the ease of use is impressive.
But one problem can get in the way of connecting remotely―what if the computer you're connecting from runs an earlier version of Windows and doesn't have the Remote Desktop Connection client software installed on it? Well, you can actually connect from almost any version of Windows, since versions as far back as Windows for Workgroups version 3.1 and Windows NT 3.5 are supported, although with some limitations . Windows NT 3.5 and Windows for Workgroups version 3.1 are only supported using the Terminal Services client software from Windows 2000 Server. Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows Me, Windows NT 4, and Windows 2000 are all supported for use with the Remote Desktop Connection client software that ships with Windows XP.
The catch, of course, is that in order to connect to your Windows XP Professional desktop using Remote Desktop Connection, the Remote Desktop client software must be installed on the computer you're using as a client. No problem if you're running Windows XP on your computer―it's installed by default with Windows XP Professional. If Remote Desktop Client is not installed on your Home Edition-based computer by default, you can add it after the initial installation. But how do you make the client software available on computers running earlier versions of Windows? Well, it's really pretty easy. All the necessary files are on your original Windows XP Professional CD for those operating systems that support Remote Desktop Connection. For earlier versions of Windows that require the Terminal Services client software, you'll need access to a computer running Windows 2000 Server. We'll cover the installation of both types.
Installing the Remote Desktop Client Software
To install the Remote Desktop Connection client software, you need your original Windows XP CD. You can use the Windows XP CD to install the client software, or use it to create a special Remote Desktop Installation CD that contains the client software, so you don't have to carry your original CD everywhere, which I'm unwilling to do. We'll give you the official way first, and then tell you how to create the special Remote Desktop Installation CD. To install the Remote Desktop Connection client software:
Installing the Terminal Services Client
If you're installing on a computer running Windows NT 3.5 or Windows for Workgroups version 3.1, you'll need to use the older Terminal Services client software included with Windows 2000 Server. The installation programs for this are contained in Windows 2000 Server, Advanced Server, and Datacenter Server.
For Windows for Workgroups version 3.1, the files are in:
%windir%/system32/clients/tsclient/win16/disks in subfolders disk1 through disk4.
You can copy each subfolder onto a floppy disk, and use that to do the installation. Just run the setup program in the disk1 folder.
For Windows NT 3.5, the files are in:
%windir%/system32/clients/tsclient/win32/disks in subfolders disk1 and disk2.
Again, you can copy each subfolder to a separate floppy disk, and run the setup program on the first disk.Top of page
Creating a Special Installation CD for Remote Desktop
If you have access to a CD burner and a computer running Windows 2000 Server, you can easily create a special installation CD that includes all the necessary files to install either the Remote Desktop Connection client software or the Terminal Services client software. For the Remote Desktop Connection client, you need one file from the original Windows XP Professional CD:
<CD Drive Letter>:/Support/Tools/MSRDPCLI.EXE and for earlier versions, the files need to come from a computer running Windows 2000 Server where they are located at:
%windir%/system32/clients/tsclient/net in the win16 and win32 directories.
Simply use the CD-writing software of your choice (the one built into Windows XP is quite sufficient for most purposes) to create a CD that has all the necessary files for any OS you're likely to have to run from, and keep it in your briefcase. Now, whenever you need to connect to your Windows XP Professional-based computer, you have the necessary client available.
Finally, a suggestion―rather than carry around a CD that contains all the necessary files and versions, consider installing the Remote Desktop Web Connection, which I covered in Remote Desktop Web Connection . Although it doesn't have all the functionality of the full Remote Desktop Connection client software, it's easy to install and use, connecting from the client computer using Internet Explorer (version 4 or later).
Charlie Russel is currently an information technology consultant, specializing in combined Windows and UNIX networks. He's also the co