TO CELEBRATE the launch of Windows 8.1 yesterday, Microsoft had a little treat in store for iOS and Android users in the long overdue release of Remote Desktop client apps, allowing users to connect to their Windows PCs from their smart devices.
"But I've been doing this for years!" we hear you cry. Well, yes. Apps like Teamviewer, Pocketcloud and Logmein long ago stole a march on this Microsoft offering, both chronologically and technologically.
To show just how late to the party Microsoft is on this, our search for "Remote Desktop" in the Google Play Store eventually found the app languishing at number 75 on the list of results.
The app is exactly what you would expect - a duplication of the Remote Desktop interface in Windows, complete with needlessly complicated setup options that most users would never ordinarily use.
After 15 minutes of fruitlessly trying to get it to play, we decided that it would be easier to use one of its competitors that, for the sake of a few minutes installing a background application on the target PC, requires no knowledge of what IP address your ISP has given you this week, no fiddling with your firewall, and no messages saying "Connection Refused" with no clue as to why.
This leads us to question Microsoft's rather curious decision to release these apps right now. Who is it appealing to and why? If the object of the exercise is to say, "Hey look! You can use a Windows PC even if you've jumped ship," then Microsoft needs to make it easier to use, as it's still the same basic remote access system as the one in Windows XP.
On the other hand, if it's saying, "We know you probably won't ever buy a Windows Phone, but please don't leave us altogether," then it smacks of desperation on Microsoft's part. µ