Remote Desktop functionality comes to Chrome web browser

Last year, Google’s Gary Kacmarcik revealed Chromoting, a feature of the company’s Chrome operating system that would allow “legacy PC applications” to be accessed through the included web browser. Kacmarcik didn’t provide many details on Chromoting at the time, but he did confirm it was “something like” Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Connection, which allows Windows PCs to be controlled remotely.

We haven’t heard much about Chromoting since, but the technology behind it appears to have migrated from ChromeOS to Google’s standalone web browser. Say hello to Chrome Remote Desktop, a new browser extension that offers RDC-like functionality between systems running Chrome on any operating system, including Windows, OS X, Linux, and ChromeOS. As one might expect, Chrome Remote Desktop is currently in beta. The extension already has a 4.5-star rating and over 67,000 users, though.

Unlike with Remote Desktop Connection, Chrome’s remote-access implementation can’t currently be used to connect to systems without someone on the other end. An access code is required to initiate the connection, and it only pops up in the remote system’s web browser. It’s unclear whether this limitation will be removed in future versions of the extension.

I just fired up Chrome Remote Desktop and used it to connect to my home-theater PC. The process took all of a couple of minutes and was incredible easy, making the extension particularly appealing for remotely troubleshooting the PC problems encountered by friends, family, and anyone else who has your phone number filed under “tech support.”

Comments closed
    • xiaomimm
    • 9 years ago
    • xiaomim
    • 9 years ago
    • xiaomim
    • 9 years ago
    • Metalianman
    • 9 years ago

    Does no-one ever heard of Team Viewer?! I have been using it for quite some time now, it runs on most OS and bypasses firewalls like that, no need to get into a lengthy set-up and port forwarding techniques like Microsoft’s Remote Desktop. It’s free and it’s wicked fast, not to mention that I can use it to access any of my computers from my iPhone (there’s an Android app as well!). Computer support for my family and friends has never been easier and a highly recommend it for any use, professional or otherwise.

      • krazyredboy
      • 9 years ago

      I have been using that, myself, for sometime now, too. I love it. Yes, it is very simple to use and can be used without even installing it, which, I think, adds a whole lot more than most other setups. And, more than anything, is free to use!

      • indeego
      • 9 years ago

      It is vulnerable to a MITM attack. In general any service running full time to a third party is an iffy proposition.

      But yeah I’ve used it for family and it’s great. Probably my favorite remote support app.

    • jensend
    • 9 years ago

    Windows Remote Desktop, *VNC, and other similar software already do a better job- especially security and privacy wise. The only problem with using those for support is that making the server visible to the client can be hard- the person who needs to be the server is already confused, how are we going to get them to set up port forwarding etc?

    As soon as you realize that any decent VNC software can be set up the other way– the viewer listens for remote connections and needs to be visible to the server– then it’s extremely easy to use VNC for support. Who needs a browser extension?

    There are a dozen different VNC forks out there, and many of them borrow each others’ ideas (and, license permitting, code). I think TigerVNC is the one currently showing the most promise, and that’s what I’m using these days.

      • bthylafh
      • 9 years ago

      The problem with VNC is that the protocol sucks. It’s slower and lower-quality than RDP, security is a bag on the side, and its only real strength is ubiquity.

    • MaceMan
    • 9 years ago

    I’ve already got my family using CrossLoop (freeware) to support them remotely. I wonder how this compares. Sounds VERY similar.

    • albundy
    • 9 years ago

    “making the extension particularly appealing for remotely troubleshooting the PC problems encountered by friends, family, and anyone else”

    how are you going to get them to install chrome? Its highly unlikely that they are using it in the first place.

    • TechCtrl
    • 9 years ago

    Nothing new here, moving on.

    • Jigar
    • 9 years ago

    Vulnerability turned into feature ?

    • flip-mode
    • 9 years ago

    This is totally and completely cool.

      • Peldor
      • 9 years ago

      This simplifies some cross-platform support (if your damsel-in-distress system has Chrome and this extension or can get it installed), but I can’t get all that excited about a feature that’s been built into Windows for a decade.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 9 years ago

    Wow, this is dying to be exploited through social engineering. Run away!

      • bthylafh
      • 9 years ago

      More than the already-existing remote desktop capabilities in Windows and OSX? Please.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 9 years ago

        Yes, considering Home versions of Windows don’t allow the machine to work as a Remote Desktop server and you have to poke a hole in your firewall for OS X. This (appears, at least) to be easier to configure for the technologically inept. (i dind’t thumb you down, btw, someone else did that – you had a question worth asking)

          • bthylafh
          • 9 years ago

          Windows Home has had remote-support built in since the WinXP days, and it also requires you to have a passcode to get in. I really don’t see the difference.

            • BobbinThreadbare
            • 9 years ago

            You can’t host a remote desktop session with Windows Home

            • bthylafh
            • 9 years ago

            Let me go over this slowly since you’re not getting it:

            Windows XP Home. Remote Support. You initiate a support request with said program on your end. You get an authorization code, which you send to the person on the other end who wants to remote in and help you out. It’s a separate app from Remote Desktop, though it probably uses the same protocol underneath. Other guy puts the code into his machine and suddenly he’s seeing what you do and optionally controlling your mouse pointer.

            Sounds a lot like what this Chrome thing does, just in a cross-platform way.

            • axeman
            • 9 years ago

            I agree with you, but I will add this correction. It’s called Remote Assistance. It uses something like RDP, but it’s not RDP. It’s functional in all version of XP, But it needs either Messenger or an Email invitation to initiate the session AFAIK on XP Home; on Professional you can configure it to allow unsolicited offers of remote assistance or something. Some other solutions are a little easier to work with because of this. LogmeIn, TeamViewer, Gotomypc, webex, etc, so there is a market for this, but it is kinda cool they just put in Chrome, although some part of me wants to put a look of disapproval for including this in a GD browser.

    • dpaus
    • 9 years ago

    Presumably availabe from within Android? If so, potentially a major development (although if I’m not mistaken, Citrix already offers this for Android, no?)

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