Remote Desktop is a fancy new word for “Terminal Services”. It’s a cool way for systems administrators (or sons and\or boyfriends) to troubleshoot any computer running Windows XP Professional from any other computer in the world. It’s also a cool way of using one keyboard and mouse to control several computers, or for the IT guy to do routine server administration from his desk two floors down from the server room. But there’s one annoying behavior of Remote Desktop that a lot of us geeks don’t like: once someone has logged on to a computer with Remote Desktop, that computer’s console session (the session displayed on the monitor) is locked until the someone physically walks up to that computer and unlocks it. This is more of a personal annoyance than a problem, but let me give you a scenario when this might actually hamper the usefulness of remote administration.
Let’s imagine that a company has several monitors embedded in the wall of the receptionist area of their office. These monitors are connected to several older PCs that continuously run Powerpoint presentations that show pictures of the company’s products and welcome messages for visiting clients. If the company wants to change or update the Powerpoint presentation, the IT guy normally has to walk to the closet wherever these PCs are located and manually copy the new PPT file to the PCs and restart Powerpoint. He or she could do this from their desk using Remote Desktop, but unfortunately since Remote Desktop locks the console session, the IT guy will still have to walk to the closet and manually press CTRL+ALT+DEL to unlock the computers… unless you follow this trick:
Right-click on any empty area of the desktop and select New > Shortcut. In the “location” box, enter (or paste) this text:
%windir%\System32\tscon.exe 0 /dest:console
Click “Next”, then give the new shortcut a name and click “Finish”. Once this has been done, you can copy the shortcut to any PC you’d like. To have XP end the Remote Desktop session and immediately return to the console session, simply click the new shortcut you made to end the remote session.