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Microsoft’s Remote Desktop app available now, lets you control PC from Mac

Anyone interested in helming a Windows PC from the comfort of their MacBook can do so starting today as Microsoft has gone ahead and published a preview edition of its Remote Desktop app for Mac, according to a company blog post.

To be clear, the Remote Desktop app has been available since 2004, but what Microsoft released today is a beta, only available to users of the company’s HockeyApp, which can be acquired here.

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While Remote Desktop Beta adds a “brand-new” user interface and new features not found in the release version of the app, Ayesha Mascarenhas from the Remote Desktop team suggests only using it in a “live operating environment.” This means personal use is fine, but don’t install it at work!

In addition to an improved UI, Microsoft Remote Desktop Beta incorporates better management of user accounts, as well as the ability to use both Mac and Windows cut, copy, and paste shortcuts. However, it should be noted that the Remote Desktop Beta is presently limited to desktops, so don’t expect to be able to manage files on your Surface tablet from a MacBook Pro any time soon.

Fortunately, what it lacks in versatility, the it makes up for in simplicity. In the Microsoft Remote Desktop Beta, every task begins with the connection center, which allows users to quickly find and manage the desktops they want to connect to. Adding a new desktop is as easy as clicking the Add button and double-clicking on the device in question.

Streamlining the management of user accounts, when an account is saved once, it can now be stored by numerous desktop connections. On top of that, a new user account can be added in just two clicks, by navigating to Preferences followed by Accounts.

Furthermore, the Beta app preserves a couple of features from its predecessor including the ability to connect to local desktops with a single monitor in addition to “seamless audio and video streaming.”

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A version of the app that forgoes the HockeyApp requirement is available for download here. In the blog post, Microsoft stressed the importance of sharing feedback on its Remote Desktop Beta app in which users have the option to assign the app a rating, suggest new features, and report issues with the app’s performance.

Forthcoming software updates will add multiple monitor support, clipboard redirection, remote desktop gateway, resources for RemoteApp and Desktop Connections, and Azure RemoteApp preview. Microsoft Remote Desktop is available on a slew of other devices as well, including Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows Phone, iOS, Mac OS X, and Android.