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Using the Remote Assistance task with Vista and Server 2008 computers

Using the Remote Assistance task with Vista and Server 2008 computers

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(thanks to Essentials team member Stephanie for this article!) 

If you've tried to use the Remote Assistance task in the Essentials Computer space to connect to a Vista or Windows Server 2008 computer, you've found that the task to initiate a Remote Assistance session does not work.  The task does not work because of a change in how Remote Assistance works in Vista and Server 2008.

In Windows XP and Server 2003, Remote Assistance was initated by using helpctr.exe.  In Vista and Server 2008, Remote Assistance is initated by using msra.exe.  helpctr.exe cannot be used to connect to Vista and Server 2008 computers.  msra.exe can be used to connect to XP, Server 2003, Vista and Server 2008 computers.  Also, msra.exe can only be executed on Vista and Server 2008 computers.

The Remote Assistance task in the Essentials computer space only uses helpctr.exe.  That said, you do not need to wait for a new management pack release to get this functionality.  Below are instructions on how to create your own task for Remote Assistance that will display in the Computer space and work with Vista and Server 2008.

In the Authoring space (the paper and pencil in the bottom of the wunderbar) expand Management Pack objects and right click on 'Tasks'.  Choose create a new task.  Choose Console Tasks\Command Line.  Click next. Name the task "Remote Assistance for Vista/Server 2008".  Chose a task target by clicking the Select... button and target "Windows Computer".  Chose next.  In the Application field, enter %SystemRoot%\system32\msra.exe.  In the parameters field, add:

/offerra $Target/Property[Type="Windows!Microsoft.Windows.Computer"]/NetworkName$ 

In the working directory, chose %SYSTEMROOT%\system32.  Uncheck the option to display output when the task is run.

Now from the Computers space, choosing a computer in a view such as All Computers, your task will appear in the available tasks lists next to the Remote Assistance task that uses helpctr.exe.  Note that this new Remote Assistance task will only work if you are using the Essentials console on a Vista or Server 2008 computer.

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