My name is David Bélanger, and I’m a program manager on the Remote Desktop team working on Remote Desktop apps for the different Windows platforms. A month ago, we released the first version of the Microsoft Remote Desktop Preview app for Windows Phone 8.1 and it’s been exciting to see the enthusiasm for the app from all your comments. While we continue adding more functionality to bring this app in alignment with our apps on other platforms (Windows 8.1, iOS, Mac OS X, and Android), we’d love to hear about your feature requests or questions in the Remote Desktop clients forum.
Today, we are releasing the first update to the app, which contains some exciting new features. Download the Remote Desktop Preview app from the Windows Phone Store to your Windows Phone device running the Developer Preview of Windows Phone 8.1.
This blog highlights some of the new features available in version 8.1.1 of the app.
Pin desktop connections to the Start screen
Is there a desktop that you connect to regularly and would love to get to faster? Then pin it to your start screen for single click access to the remote PC. First start by doing a press and hold on the specific desktop and then choose the pin to start option.
Figure 1: Pin to start option for desktops
After the desktop has been pinned, it will now be available on your Start screen with the appropriate display name (friendly name or PC name). Simply tap the tile to launch a connection to that PC.
Figure 2: Pinned desktop on the Start screen
Word flow and predictive text
One of the great new features in Windows Phone 8.1 is Word Flow, which allows you to glide your finger over the letters of a word and the system will do the rest. It is now possible to use Word flow and predictive text to quickly type in the remote session.
Figure 3: Using Word flow to insert text in a session
To accommodate the taller keyboard, it’s now possible to show and hide the extended keyboard, which provides useful keys for interacting with a Windows session. Tap on the chevron on the left side of the extended keyboard and it will slide to the right, out of the way. Tapping on the chevron again will bring back the extended keyboard.
Figure 4: Hidden extended keyboard
Whether it’s for privacy reasons or because you would like to see a more compact list of desktops, a new option under SETTINGS allows you to show or hide the desktop thumbnails.
Figure 5: Show/hide the thumbnails for the desktops
After this option has been unchecked, the desktops on the Connection Center will be shown in a list with no thumbnails. The same options are still available through press and hold. Note that the existing thumbnails are deleted from the phone, so enabling the thumbnails again will show the default thumbnail until the first connection.
Figure 6: Difference between show and hide thumbnails
Start background support
A new feature in Windows Phone 8.1 is the ability to set a Start background image visible through the tiles of applications that support it. With this release, the Remote Desktop app now supports this feature.
Figure 7: Start background image showing through the Remote Desktop tile
Improved Touch and Mouse Pointer modes
Throughout this release, we’ve continued refining the Touch and Mouse Pointer input modes. On top of general improvements, the following updates have been made:
- Added the ability to pan the screen while dragging an item by either moving your finger to the edges of the screen in Mouse Pointer mode or using a second finger to interact with the pan knob in Touch mode
- Mouse Pointer mode now allows horizontal scrolling (2 fingers left-right) when connected to PCs running Windows 8.1. This is similar to the existing vertical scrolling (2 fingers up-down)
- Zooming and scrolling in Mouse Pointer mode has also been improved for a smoother experience
Lastly, we’ve also updated the connection and disconnection experiences to provide a better and more familiar experience to long time users of Remote Desktop Connection. During the connection process, you will now see the different stages as the app establishes the session.
Figure 8: Connection stages displayed during the connection
When the phone has no network connection available and you try to connect to a remote PC, the app will now notify you much faster and allow you to first fix the network issue. The disconnection process is also smoother and will notify you that the session is being terminated.
Try it now
If you haven’t tried it yet, I encourage you to download the app preview today from the Windows Phone store and enjoy the rich Windows experience on your Windows Phone 8.1 device. To upgrade your Windows Phone 8 device to Windows Phone 8.1 Developer Preview and get access to all the tools, start with the following Windows blog post.
Stay tuned for future updates as we work on adding VPN and Microsoft Azure RemoteApp support this summer and more enterprise-focused features including Remote Desktop Gateway, RD Connection Broker, and Remote Resources (RemoteApp and Desktop Connections) later this year.
Note: Questions and comments are welcome. However, please DO NOT post a request for troubleshooting by using the comment tool at the end of this post. Instead, post a new thread in the Remote Desktop clients forum. Thank you!