Lose Weight
Windows XP
Windows Vista
Windows 7
Windows Azure
Windows Server
Windows Phone
Windows 7

Managing the Windows 7 Environment : Configuring Remote Connections (part 1) - Remote Assistance

7/12/2011 11:42:11 AM
End user support for most IT departments is a major concern and a time-consuming endeavor. Anything we can do to provide a more efficient solution to user issues is a major benefit. Basic telephone or chat support works in many cases, but what if you could see what the end user sees or even interface with their machine? By using Remote Assistance and Remote Desktop, you can. If you've been using them with XP and Vista, you're really going to be pleased with the improvements with Windows 7.

Remote Assistance in Windows Vista provided many enhancements over previous versions, including improvements in security, performance, and usability. Windows 7 goes even further by adding Easy Connect, which makes it even easier for novice users to request help from expert users. Group Policy support has been increased. There is command-line functionality (meaning we can add scripting), bandwidth optimization, logging, and even more.

Remote Desktop is a tool that allows you to take control of a remote computer's keyboard, video, and mouse. This tool does not require someone collaborating with you on the remote computer. Remote Desktop is used to access remote machines' applications and troubleshoot issues as well as provide end user needs where you want complete control of the remote machine. Let's start the discussion with Remote Assistance.

1. Remote Assistance

Remote Assistance provides a method for inviting help by instant message, email, a file, or now an Easy Connect option. To use Remote Assistance, the computer requesting help and the computer providing help must have Remote Assistance capabilities and both computers must have network connectivity (they have to be able to talk to each other).

Remote Assistance is designed to have an expert user provide assistance to a novice user, The "expert" and "novice" terms are used to describe the as sis tor (experr) and assistee (novice). When assisting a novice user, the expert can use text-based chat built into Remote Assistance. The expert can also take control of a novice user's desktop (with permission of course). Here are some common examples of when you would use Remote Assistance:

  • Diagnosing problems that are difficult to explain or reproduce. Remote Assistance can allow an expert to remotely view the computer and the novice user can show the expert an error or problem.

  • Guiding a novice user to perform a complex set of instructions. The expert can also take control of the computer and complete the tasks if necessary.

1.1. Easy Connect

The Easy Connect method for getting remote assistance is new for Windows 7. Easy Connect uses Peer Name Resolution Protocol (PNRP) to set up direct peer-to-peer transfer using a central machine on the Internet to establish the connection. PNRP uses IPv6 and Teredo tunneling to register a machine as globally unique. You're not using IPv6? You are with PNRP; Windows 7 (as well as Vista and Windows Server 2008) has IPv6 turned on natively as well as the currently used standard of IPv4. You will, however, be able to use only Easy Connect with Windows 7 and beyond. You can see the structure of the PNRP Teredo IPv6 packet in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Teredo and IPv6 PNRP structure

To establish a Remote Assistance session with a user using Easy Connect, the novice (the user being helped) should open the Windows Remote Assistance screen. This is done by selecting Start => All Programs => Maintenance => Windows Remote Assistance.

You can also access the Remote Assistance feature by clicking Start => Help And Support and choosing more support options in the lower-left portion of the Windows Help And Support window. Some users may be used to going to the Windows Help And Support window from previous operating system versions. It looks different, but it's still there. You can also launch the Windows Remote Assistance screen by typing msra in the integrated search box from the Start menu (click the Starr button).

Whichever way the novice or the expert launches the feature, the Windows Remote Assistance screen will become available. To start using Easy Connect, the novice user will select Invite Someone You Trust To Help You. The initial Remote Assistance window where the novice will initiate an invitation is shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2. Remote Assistance initial screen


The Windows 7 machine is configured by default to allow Remote Assistance. If this has been disabled in the configuration, an error will be generated here and you must enable Remote Assistance. To enable a remote computer to allow Remote Desktop access, select Start => Control Panel => System And Security => System. Click Remote Settings in the left pane. Select the Allow Remote Assistance Connections To This Computer check box and click OK. This will create an exception in Windows Firewall to allow Remote Assistance

The Windows Remote Assistance screen (Figure 3) will ask, "How do you want to invite your trusted helper?" and will offer the user the option to use Easy Connect.

Figure 3. Remote Assistance invite screen

One nice feature of Easy Connect is that if the novice user has already established an Easy Connect session previously with an expert user, the screen after selecting Use Easy Connect will offer the novice the ability to connect to the same expert. The novice user can also choose to invite someone new and/or delete the old contact if necessary. The expert user will have the same option after choosing Use Easy Connect from the machine used for a previous Easy Connect session.

After the Use Easy Connect option is selected, Windows 7 will verify network connectivity briefly. This is the point at which the PNRP actions take place and the novice user's information is added to a cloud in the Internet space. The cloud is the group of machines holding little pieces of information, the identifiers of users needing connectivity, set up in a peer-to-peer sharing environment. PNRP uses this distributed infrastructure for its peer-to-peer name resolution. The novice user's contact information is entered into the PNRP cloud and an associated password is created and displayed to the novice user.

The novice user will now relay the password to the expert by text message, telephone, or any convenient conversation method. The novice will simply have to wait for the expert to initiate their part. The novice user will still have to accept the connection once the expert starts the remote assistance session.

The expert user needs to start a Remote Assistance session the same way the novice did, but the expert will choose Help Someone Who Has Invited You from the Windows Remote Assistance screen (Figure 4).

Figure 4. Remote Assistance

The expert user will be presented a dialog box to enter the password given by the novice user (Figure 5) who is initiating the Remote Assistance session.

Figure 5. Remote Assistance screen for entering a password

After a few moments of querying the PNRP cloud and finding the connection path back to the novice user, Remote Assistance presents the novice user a confirmation box verifying that the user wants to allow help from the expert.

The novice user will then have a control bar on their screen indicating that the Remote Assistance session is active. From this control bar, the novice can initiate a chat session with the expert and modify some general session settings (bandwidth, logging, contact information exchange, and sharing control).

The expert user will be shown the novice user's Desktop within a separate Remote Assistance window. The expert user will also have some general con figuration-setting capabilities as well as an option to request control of the novice user's desktop. The novice user will, of course, be allowed to accept or reject the expert's request.

The expert and novice user can now have a interactive session in which the necessary assistance can be provided. This method of help really takes out the "can you tell me what you see on your screen" issues between two users. The Easy Connect feature takes one more problem out of the equation, getting a novice user to send an invitation to another user. The one caveat here is that both users must be using Windows 7 for Easy Connect to be an option.

Now what if the user is not available to send you the invitation? You can still connect to a user's computer using Remote Desktop, which I will discuss in the next section.
Other -----------------
- Microsoft Visio 2010 : Aligning and Spacing Shapes
- Microsoft Visio 2010 : Using the Organization Chart Wizard with New Data
- Configuring the Windows 7 Operating System (part 3) - Understanding the System Icon & Using the Registry Editor
- Configuring the Windows 7 Operating System (part 2) - Configuring Windows Aero & Using Control Panel
- Configuring the Windows 7 Operating System (part 1) - Configuring the Desktop Environment
- Microsoft Visio 2010 : Using the Organization Chart Wizard with Existing Data
- Visual Studio 2010 : Building Smart Client User Interfaces - Laying Out Your Controls
- Visual Basic 2010 : Manipulating Documents and Media - Viewing XPS Documents
- Visual Basic 2010 : Manipulating Documents and Media - Manipulating Documents
- Visual Basic 2010 : Manipulating Documents and Media - Viewing Images & Playing Media
- Automating the Windows 7 Installation : Deploying Unattended Installations (part 4) - Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit
- Automating the Windows 7 Installation : Deploying Unattended Installations (part 3) - Installing the WDS Server Components
- Automating the Windows 7 Installation : Deploying Unattended Installations (part 2) - Using Windows System Image Manager to Create Answer Files
- Automating the Windows 7 Installation : Deploying Unattended Installations (part 1)
- Microsoft Visio 2010 : Understanding Organization Charts & Building an Organization Chart by Hand
- Microsoft Visio 2010 : Creating Swimlane Diagrams
- Microsoft Excel 2010 : Editing Chart Data
- Microsoft Excel 2010 : Changing the Chart Background & Enhancing a Chart
- Microsoft Excel 2010 : Formatting Chart Text & Formatting Line and Bar Charts
- Visual Studio 2010 : Building the Windows Container (part 3) - Creating a Multiple Document Interface
Popular tags
Microsoft Access Microsoft Excel Microsoft OneNote Microsoft PowerPoint Microsoft Project Microsoft Visio Microsoft Word Active Directory Biztalk Exchange Server Microsoft LynC Server Microsoft Dynamic Sharepoint Sql Server Windows Server 2008 Windows Server 2012 Windows 7 Windows 8 Adobe Indesign Adobe Flash Professional Dreamweaver Adobe Illustrator Adobe After Effects Adobe Photoshop Adobe Fireworks Adobe Flash Catalyst Corel Painter X CorelDRAW X5 CorelDraw 10 QuarkXPress 8 windows Phone 7 windows Phone 8 BlackBerry Android Ipad Iphone iOS
Top 10
- Windows Phone 8 Apps : Camera (part 4) - Adjusting Video Settings, Using the Video Light
- Windows Phone 8 Apps : Camera (part 3) - Using the Front Camera, Activating Video Mode
- Windows Phone 8 Apps : Camera (part 2) - Controlling the Camera’s Flash, Changing the Camera’s Behavior with Lenses
- Windows Phone 8 Apps : Camera (part 1) - Adjusting Photo Settings
- MDT's Client Wizard : Package Properties
- MDT's Client Wizard : Driver Properties
- MDT's Client Wizard : Application Properties
- MDT's Client Wizard : Operating System Properties
- MDT's Client Wizard : Customizing the Deployment Share
- Windows Server 2012 : Software and User Account Control Administration (part 5) - Maintaining application integrity - Configuring run levels
Windows XP
Windows Vista
Windows 7
Windows Azure
Windows Server
Windows Phone
2015 Camaro