Remote Assistance is a convenient way for level two system
technicians (and in certain cases, knowledgeable friends and
associates) to connect to your Windows XP system and either walk you through
any problems you are having locally or to allow them to take
care of it for you.
After Enterprise users log a call to a central help desk
either via the phone or the Enterprise's current trouble
call system, (or by one of the ways mentioned later in this
article) Remote Assistance allows the appropriate person to
log into your system to view what you see on your computer screen and chat online with you in real
time through the use of Windows Messenger about what you both see
on the local system. (It is also possible for them to be
speaking over the telephone with you about what is seen on
the local system as well.) If the task is "too difficult" to walk
the user through, the support person can "take over" the
session and complete the task remotely.
[NOTES FROM THE FIELD] - The minimum system
requirements needed to properly utilize Remote Assistance as
outlined by Microsoft are that both connecting systems must be using either Windows
Messenger or another MAPI-compliant e-mail account such as
Microsoft Outlook or Outlook Express.
Both systems will need network connectivity, either via the
internet or a corporate WAN/LAN.
On some corporate WANs,
firewalls might stop you from using Remote Assistance
depending on which ports are being filtered at the firewall.
Remote Assistance runs over
the top of Terminal Services technology and uses the same
TCP port used by Terminal Services: port 3389.
Remote Assistance will not work if outbound traffic from TCP
port 3389 is blocked.
If you are using Network Address Translation (NAT) in a home
environment, you can use Remote Assistance without any
special configurations. However, if you have a personal
firewall or similar lockdowns in your home environment, you
will have the same issues as in a corporate environment,
Remote Assistance will not work if outbound traffic from TCP
port 3389 is blocked.
Also, Microsoft Windows XP
Professional or Windows XP Home Edition are the only two
systems that can use this functionality. The user requesting
assistance and the user providing the assistance must both
be using systems running one of the versions of Windows XP.
Remote Assistance configuration is accessed
and settings are enabled via the System Properties page on a Windows XP system either
by selecting it from the Start Menu by right clicking My
Computer and choosing Properties or by selecting My Computer
from the Windows Explorer and right clicking My Computer and
FROM THE FIELD] -
What your Start Menu options look like all depend on how you
have the menu set. If you are using the Classic Start Menu,
you would not see My Computer as a selection to right click
I seem to continually repeat this from article to article, but it
is important to stress, the Windows XP Professional exam
rarely tests you on Classic anything. You need to know how
to get from Windows XP Professional settings to Classic and
back, but in 90% of the cases you're going to find
instructions laid out in the Windows XP Professional vein. I
will do my best to point out alternatives in the [NOTES FROM THE FIELD]
section as I have done here.
Local Administrators and certain permitted individuals have the rights to
make configuration settings for the local systems to allow or prevent
remote assistance invitations. Once the system is properly
configured by the Administrator, any user can make a request
for remote assistance.
After the Properties page has been brought up for a local system, it
can be set to allow Remote Assistance invitations by
selecting the Allow Remote Assistance invitations to be
sent from this computer checkbox on the Remote
Once this option is set the Advanced button becomes available which
displays the Remote Assistance Settings dialog box when
[NOTES FROM THE FIELD] - The default settings are shown in
the image above. You can configure the Invitation
settings in the drop down menu of numbers in a range from 1
to 99 and the definition box to the right can be set to
MINUTES, HOURS, or DAYS.
The default option of Allow This Computer To Be Controlled Remotely
is selected and allows the person offering the assistance to
take over the full control of the local system. Clearing
this check box allows the remote user only the ability to
view a remote session. (Think of it as a "Read Only"
Remote Assistance via the Windows Messenger
There are many different ways to solicit help via Remote Assistance. I
will outline the main ways to ask via the local system.
You can ask for Remote Assistance via the Windows Messenger by logging
in to the Windows Messenger and going to Actions on
the Menu bar and selecting Ask for Remote Assistance.
This allows you to select a person from your list of contacts, provided
they are online at the time.
You can also select the Other tab to enter the e-mail address of
another person to contact.
The invitation from the My Contacts list will show up in the
Also, if you already have a conversation session established
with the person you want to request help from, you can simply
select the Ask for Remote Assistance button from the
I want to....menu.
Once the person accepts the invitation you will see a
dialog box asking you to confirm permission. In order for
the session to continue you would need to click Yes.
They can then operate on your system at whatever level of control
that has been allowed. (Either view or full control.)
[NOTES FROM THE FIELD] - The client requesting the remote
session maintains ultimate control of the session even
thought they have granted temporary controlling access to
the invitee. Although you relinquish control of your
computer temporarily, you retain control over the Remote
Assistance session itself. The client requesting the remote
session can end the session immediately by clicking the Stop
Control button or pressing the ESC key.
Remote Assistance via the Help and Support Center
You can also initiate a session via Help and Support from the Start Menu.
This will open the Help and Support Center where you can ask for assistance from the
Selecting Invite a friend to connect to your computer with Remote Assistance from the
Ask a friend to help section (from the Support menu on the left section
of the screen, not shown in the above image) will bring you to the next Help and Support
From here you can select Invite someone to help you which will open the next
screen to select either a Windows Messenger user or allow you to
make a solicitation by email.
You can select a user from the list and click the Invite this person button which
will bring up the Web Page Dialog box.
[NOTES FROM THE FIELD] - This
box will stay open until it is accepted on the remote end or
cancelled on the requesting end.
You can also elect to save your
invitation as a file.
When you save the invitation, you
can elect to require the recipient to use a password. (You
will have to get this password to the recipient, it is not
sent from this tool.)
You can also elect Get Help from
Microsoft from the Support menu, which allows you to choose
assistance options from Microsoft.
If you choose to Ask a Microsoft Support Professional for help, you'll need to
agree to the End User License Agreement, after which you'll
be prompted through a series of questions to assist you in
your troubleshooting effort.
[NOTES FROM THE FIELD] - While I have personally never used this option, I did fire
it up to see how it functioned and it appeared to work just
the Windows Hardware Troubleshooters, where a number of
"canned" questions are asked, which lead to the next
question and so on, building the "path" of questioning from
the previous answers. I can't really tell you if you have a
"live" Microsoft support person on the other end, at least
not for the number of questions I walked through anyway.
You can also choose to Go to
a Windows Web site Forum from the Support menu
and choose the Go to Windows Newsgroups in an attempt
to resolve any system issues you might be having on your own
by utilizing information posted there.
That's a wrap for this week. Be sure to check back in next week for
the next article in this series.
In the meantime, best of luck in your
studies and please feel free to contact me with any
questions on my column and remember,
"I have yet to figure out why people put suits in
a garment bag and put garments in a suitcase"