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One of the new features in Windows 7 is Remote Desktop Connection (RDC) 7, and Microsoft decided to also offer the most of the same functionality to Windows XP and Vista users. Many of you will probably shrug this off as a pointless update, but it has something that is really useful to me. What is it?

Sometimes I Remote Desktop into one machine, and from there I have to Remote Desktop into other machines. A good example of when this might happen is if you have multiple machines in your house… you may only open one of those machines up so that it can be accessed from outside of your network. If you want to connect to other machines you simply RD into the primary one, and then from there you can access any of the other computers on your network.

The problem? If you use one Remote Desktop session inside of another that yellow/tan connection bar along the top can become tedious to use when juggling your various sessions. The more machines you connect to the more those connection bars overlay each other, and can therefore make it extremely difficult to disconnect or minimize some of the connections. You’ll often find yourself sitting there playing with the pin/unpin until the correct connection bar appears.

In Remote Desktop 7 the connection bar is now an attractive transparent blue, but what’s important is that you can slide it back and forth along the top of the window. That basically means you can stagger the connection bars for multiple sessions so that they aren’t completely overlapping each other. I’m demonstrating this in the screenshot above where I connected to one machine using RD7, and then from there connected to another machine running an older version of Remote Desktop. I’ve cropped the screenshot, but the yellow connection bar is actually in the center of the screen. I then dragged the blue bar off to the side so that it could clearly be seen.

Unfortunately the bar can still only be placed along the top of the screen (you can’t move it to the side or to the bottom), but this is still a welcomed addition. There are also a bunch of other features I’m sure some of you will love in RD7:

  • Web Single Sign-On (SSO) and Web forms-based authentication
  • Access to personal virtual desktops by using RD Connection Broker
  • Access to virtual desktop pools by using RD Connection Broker
  • Status & disconnect system tray icon
  • RD Gateway-based device redirection enforcement
  • RD Gateway system and logon messages
  • RD Gateway background authorization & authentication
  • RD Gateway idle & session time-outs
  • NAP remediation with RD Gateway
  • Windows Media Player redirection
  • Bidirectional audio
  • Multiple monitor support
  • Enhanced video playback

New features available only to users connecting from a Windows 7 or Windows 2008 R2 machine:

  • Language Bar docking
  • Remote application task scheduler
  • Aero Glass support
  • Start applications and desktops from ‘RemoteApp and Desktop Connections’

Here are the download links for XP and Vista users:

Remote Desktop Connection 7 Homepage