Windows Home Server 2011 : Connecting via Remote Desktop Connection

Only certain Windows 7, Vista, and XP machines can act as Remote Desktop hosts, all Windows 7, Vista, and XP computers can initiate a Remote Desktop connection to a host (that is, they can act as Remote Desktop clients). In this section, you learn how to prepare the clients and make the connection.

Getting the Client Computer Ready

You must install the Remote Desktop Connection software on the client computer. This software is already installed in all versions of Windows 7 and Windows Vista. If you’re running Windows XP on the client, you can install the Remote Desktop Connection software from the Windows XP CD (if you have one):

Insert the Windows XP CD, and wait for the Welcome to Microsoft Windows XP screen to appear.

Click Perform Additional Tasks.

Click Set Up Remote Desktop Connection.


You can also download the latest client software from Microsoft at

In addition, you can use this client if you’re running Windows XP and don’t have access to the XP install disc.

If you have a Mac machine running OS X connected to your network, you can initiate a session with any Remote Desktop host and even share files between the two computers. The Remote Desktop Connection Client for Mac is available from Microsoft at

If you have a Linux box on your network, you can use rdesktop as a Remote Desktop Protocol client. You can download the software at

Making the Connection to the Remote Desktop

On the client computer, you can now connect to the host computer’s desktop. Follow these steps:

Select Start, All Programs, Accessories, Remote Desktop Connection. (In Windows XP, select Start, All Programs, Accessories, Remote Desktop Connection.) The Remote Desktop Connection dialog box appears.

In the Computer text box, type the name or the IP address of the host computer.

If you don’t want to customize Remote Desktop, skip to step 10. Otherwise, click Options to expand the dialog box to the version shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Clicking the Options button expands the dialog box so that you can customize Remote Desktop.


The General tab offers the following additional options:

  • Computer—The name or IP address of the remote computer.

  • User Name—The username you want to use to log in to the host computer.

  • Password—(Windows XP Service Pack 2 or earlier only) The password to use to log on to the host computer.

  • Allow Me to Save Credentials—Activate this check box to enable the Remember My Credentials option in the login dialog box.

  • Save—Click this button to have Windows remember your current settings so that you don’t have to type them again the next time you connect. This is useful if you only connect to Windows Home Server.

  • Save As—Click this button to save your connection settings to a Remote Desktop (.rdp) file for later use. This is useful if you regularly connect to other hosts.

  • Open—Click this button to open a saved .rdp file.

The Display tab offers three options for controlling the look of the Remote Desktop window:

  • Remote Desktop Size—(Display Configuration in Windows 7) Drag this slider to set the resolution of Remote Desktop. Drag the slider all the way to the left for a 640×480 screen size; drag the slider all the way to the right to have Remote Desktop take up the entire client screen, no matter what resolution the host is currently using.

  • Colors—Use this list to set the number of colors used for the Remote Desktop display. Note that if the number of colors on either the host or the client is fewer than the value you select in the Colors list, Windows uses the lesser value.

  • Display the Connection Bar—When you activate this check box, the Remote Desktop Connection client displays a connection bar at the top of the Remote Desktop window, provided you selected Full Screen for the Remote Desktop Size setting. You use the connection bar to minimize, restore, and close the Remote Desktop window. If you find that the connection bar just gets in the way, deactivate this check box to prevent it from appearing.

The Local Resources tab offers three options for controlling certain interactions between the client and host:

  • Remote Computer Sound—(Remote Audio in Windows 7) Use this list to determine where Windows plays the sounds generated by the host. You can play them on the client (if you want to hear what’s happening on the host), on the host (if you want a user sitting at the host to hear the sounds), or not at all (if you have a slow connection). In Windows 7, you can also choose to enable remote audio recording.

  • Keyboard—Use this list to determine which computer is sent special Windows key combinations—such as Alt+Tab and Ctrl+Esc—that you press on the client keyboard. You can have the key combos sent to the client, to the host, or to the host only when you’re running the Remote Desktop window in full-screen mode. What happens if you’re sending key combos to one computer and you need to use a particular key combo on the other computer? For such situations, Remote Desktop offers several keyboard equivalents:

    Windows Key Combo—Remote Desktop Equivalent

    Alt+Tab—Alt+Page Up

    Alt+Shift+Tab—Alt+Page Down


    Ctrl+Esc or Windows Logo—Alt+Home

    Print Screen—Ctrl+Alt+− (numeric keypad)

    Alt+Print Screen—Ctrl+Alt++ (numeric keypad)


    Here are three other useful keyboard shortcuts you can press on the client computer and have Windows send to the host:

    Ctrl+Alt+EndDisplays the Windows Security dialog box. This is equivalent to pressing Ctrl+Alt+Delete, which Windows always applies to the client computer.
    Alt+DeleteDisplays the active window’s Control menu.
    Ctrl+Alt+BreakToggles the Remote Desktop window between full-screen mode and a regular window.

  • Local Devices and Resources—Leave the Printers check box activated to display the client’s printers in the host’s Printers and Faxes window. The client’s printers appear with the syntax Printer (from COMPUTER), where Printer is the printer name and COMPUTER is the network name of the client computer. In Windows 7 and Vista, leave the Clipboard check box activated to use the client’s Clipboard during the remote session. You can also connect disk drives and serial ports, which I describe in the next step.

Click More to see the Remote Desktop Connection dialog box. Use the following check boxes to configure more client devices and resources on the host. (Click OK when you’re done.)

  • Smart Cards—Leave this check box activated to access the client’s smart cards on the host.

  • Serial Ports—(Ports in Windows 7) Activate this check box to make any devices attached to the client’s serial ports (such as a barcode scanner) available while you’re working with the host.

  • Drives—Activate this check box to display the client’s hard disk partitions and mapped network drives in the host’s Computer (or My Computer) window. (You can also open the branch to activate the check boxes of specific drives.) The client’s drives appear in the window’s Other group with the syntax D on Computer, where D is the drive letter and Computer is the network name of the client computer.

  • Supported Plug and Play Devices—Activate this check box to make some of the client’s Plug and Play devices, such as media players and digital cameras, available to the host. (You can also open the branch to activate the check boxes of specific devices.)

Use the Programs tab to specify a program to run on connection. Activate the Start the Following Program on Connection check box, and then use the Program Path and File Name text box to specify the program to run. After connecting, the user can work with only this program. When he quits the program, the session also ends.

Use the Experience tab (the Windows 7 version is shown in Figure 2) to set performance options for the connection. Use the Choose Your Connection Speed to Optimize Performance drop-down list to set the appropriate connection speed. Because you’re connecting over a network, you should choose the LAN (10 Mbps or higher) option. Depending on the connection speed you choose, one or more of the following check boxes will be activated. (The faster the speed, the more check boxes Windows activates.)

Figure 2. Use the Experience tab to set performance options for the connection.

  • Desktop Background—Toggles the host’s desktop background on and off.

  • Font Smoothing—(Windows 7, Vista, and XP Service Pack 3 only) Toggles the host’s font smoothing on and off.

  • Desktop Composition—(Windows 7, Vista, and XP Service Pack 3 only) Toggles the host’s desktop composition engine on and off.

  • Show Windows Contents While Dragging—Toggles the display of window contents when you drag a host window with your mouse.

  • Menu and Windows Animation—Toggles on and off the animations that Windows normally uses when you pull down menus or minimize and maximize windows.

  • Visual Styles—(Themes in Windows Vista and XP) Toggles the host’s current visual theme on and off.

  • Persistent Bitmap Caching—Improves performance by storing frequently used host images on the client computer.

Click Connect. Windows Vista prompts you to enter your security credentials.

In Windows 7 or Vista, type the username and password of the host account you want to use for the logon, and then click OK. (Note that in subsequent logons, you’ll only need to type the password.)

If you activated the Disk Drives or Serial Ports check boxes in the Local Resources tab, a security warning dialog box appears. If you’re sure that making these resources available to the remote computer is safe, activate the Don’t Prompt Me Again for Connections to This Remote Computer check box. Click OK.

The remote desktop then appears on your computer. If you choose to work in full-screen mode, move the mouse to the top of the screen to see the connection bar, shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3. After you’ve connected and the remote computer’s desktop appears on your screen, move the mouse to the top of the screen to see the connection bar.


If you want the connection bar to appear all the time, click to activate the Pin button. You can also grab the connection bar and drag it left or right if it’s pinned and blocking something on the screen. If you need to work with your own desktop, you have two choices:

  • Click the connection bar’s Minimize button to minimize the Remote Desktop window.

  • Click the connection bar’s Restore button to display the Remote Desktop window.

Disconnecting from the Remote Desktop

When you finish with the Remote Desktop session, you have two choices for disconnecting:

  • Using the host desktop, select Start, Log Off.

  • Click the Close button in the connection bar. Windows displays a dialog box to let you know that your remote session will be disconnected. Click OK.