Even as the world opens up post-pandemic, remote working is projected to continue (and even increase) in many workplaces as we move into 2023. From an MSPs perspective, this means that organizational users will continue requiring remote access to their professional desktops from wherever they’re working. This means knowing how to setup remote desktop for your clients is essential. This quick guide walks you through how to setup Microsoft Remote Desktop and Remote Desktop Web Client for your clients.
What is Remote Desktop Client?
Microsoft Remote Desktop clients allow you to use and control a remote PC remotely. You have all the same abilities to use the remote PC such as using apps, accessing its files and network resources, and even leaving apps open, all from wherever you are.
You can use a Remote Desktop Client from most devices, so this is a highly flexible option for users that are on the go. Some examples are:
- Windows Desktop client
- Android Client
- iOS client
- macOS client
- Web Client (we cover this below)
In order to be able to remotely access a PC, you’ll need to correctly configure it first:
- Ensure that your PC is actually compatible with the Remote Desktop client
- Allow Remote Desktop access by navigating to Settings > System > Remote Desktop
- Use the slider to allow Remote Desktop and turn it ‘on’. Click confirm.
- Note down the PC Name
- Add all relevant users that can connect remotely by clicking Select users that can remotely access this PC
How to set up Microsoft Remote Desktop client:
- On your client’s computer, install the client that is compatible with the version of Windows they are running
- Once installed, open the client from the Start menu
- From the taskbar, type Remote Desktop Connection in the search box
- Type the name of the PC you’re connecting to and click ‘Connect’
What is Remote Desktop Web Client?
Microsoft Remote Desktop Web Client allows your users to access their organisation’s IT infrastructure wherever they are from a compatible web browser.
They’ll be able to use and interact with apps or desktops on a remote desktop just as they would if they were physically sitting in front of their work computer.
How to setup Microsoft Remote Desktop Web Client
Before you start, you need to ensure that:
You have added all the servers that you will be using to the Server Manager (do this by opening Server Manager, clicking Manage > Add Servers, clicking Find Now and then manually clicking each server in the deployment). You can also create session-based deployment.
Ensure that your Remote Desktop deployment has a RD Gateway, an RD connection broker and RD Web Access that is running on Windows Server 2016 or 19.
Configure your deployment so that it is per-user client access licenses (otherwise known as CALS) instead of per-device
Ensure that public trusted certificates are configured correctly for your Remote Desktop Gateway (this is what grants users on public networks access to Windows desktops)
Ensure that any computers you will be connecting to remotely are running Windows 10 or Windows Server 2008R2 (or later)
To install Microsoft Web Client:
- On the Remote Desktop Connection Broker (which manages any incoming remote desktop connections), get the certificate that is used for RD connections and export as a .cer file.
Copy this .cer file to the server that is running the RD Web Role.
- Open an elevated PowerShell prompt on the Remote Desktop Web Access Server
- Then install the Remote Desktop Web Client management PowerShell module using the cmdlet: ‘Install-Module – Name RDWebClientManagement’
- Download RD Web Client by running the cmdlet ‘Install-RDWebClientPackage’
- Then run the cmdlet ‘Import-RDWebClientBrokerCert <.cerfile path> and ensure to replace the path with the one that you copied earlier from the RD Connection Broker.
- Then publish by running ‘Publish-RDWebClientPackage – Type Production – Latest’
- Run a check that you can properly access the web client URL in the following format: https://server_FQDN/RDWeb/webclient/index.html
- Then all you need to do is send users the URL for the web client and they should be able to login using their credentials.
What your client will need to use the Remote Desktop Web Client:
When you’ve set up remove desktop web client on behalf of your client, all they will need is:
- A computer that is running Windows, MacOS, ChromeOS or Linux (note that mobile devices aren’t currently supported)
- The URL
- Their credentials (username and password)
- A supported web browser
Your client simply needs to click the URL, enter their domain and username in the format DOMAIN\username as well as their password, click ‘Sign In’, and they’ll be able to use their remote desktop.