How to use remote assistance in Windows XP

by Johannes Helmig [Published on 2 June 2002 / Last Updated on 2 June 2002]

Windows XP allows to send a request for assistance to another Windows XP system .
The system asking for help/ support ("Assistance") is called the "Novice", the system
giving help / support is called the "Expert" :

Such a connection to give assistance is possible via any connection, which supports TCP/IP :
- local area network (LAN )
- Wide area network (WAN)
- dial-in via Modem
- via the Internet
Notes:
- to be able to use "Remote Assistance", both the system of the Novice and Expert must have
Windows XP installed (if one of these systems is not running Windowsx XP, use NetMeeting ) !
- when connecting via a firewall , it is required to have an open TCP/IP port 3389.

Once the "Expert" has accepted the invitation and connects to the "Novice" system, he can see
on his screen the desktop of the "Novice", he is also (if allowed by the "Novice") take control
and use the mouse and keyboard on his "Expert" system to control the "Novice" system :


This is similar to the "Remote Desktop", only available in Windows XP Professional, but
while "Remote Desktop" allows to connect to a host-computer without any user action on the
host system, Remote Assistance requires a user to be present to accept an incoming connection.


Check the setup of Remote Assistance :

In the Control-Panel, select the
System icon:

(or right-click "My Computer" on the desktop
and select Properties)

Select the tab : Remote

By default, Remote Assistance is
activated. Please check the
"Advanced ..." settings

Note :
The other option on on this tab ,
Remote Desktop , is NOT available
for Windows XP Home Edition, it is
only available for Windows XP
Professional.
Define, whether you allow the "Expert" only
to view your activities or whether the "Expert"
can also take control, i.e. use his mouse and
keyboard to operate your system.

Define the maximum amount of time, an
invitation can remain open

Send an invitation for Remote Assistance

To send out a request for help / support,
to send an "Invitation for Remote Assistance",
select from the Windows Start-menu :
"Programs" / "Remote Assistance",


This starts up the Windows XP
"Help and Support Center" /
Remote Assistance page.

You can review the status of current
invitations , to send out a new invitation,
select "Invite someone to help you"



Remote Assistance : Pick how you want to contact your assistant :


There are 3 methods to send out an invitation :
- via Microsoft Windows Messenger ( but it is NOT a MUST to use it ! )
- via e-mail using Microsoft Outlook Express
- via "Save invitation as a file" (allowing other e-mail programs or even floppy disk transfer)


In this example, I "Save the invitation as a File" (using Messenger or Outlook Express is similar) :



Enter your name
define how long this invitation stays open
then "Continue"


For security, it is highly recommended
to define a password, which must be
used by the "Expert" recipient to
connect to your "Novice" system.

It is your job to advise the "Expert"
of the password, either by e-mail or
a phone call.

When selecting "Save Invitation", you will
be asked to define the location to save
the file (for example: to "My Documents" )


Remote Assistance give you some last
instruction.
You need now to get the invitation file
(default name : RAInvitation ) to
your "Expert", also advising hum/her
about the password !

Important note :
While waiting for the"expert" to connect, make sure that your TCP/IP address does NOT change !
That is especially important for Internet connections : do NOT terminate your modem , DSL or
ADSL connection (to connect later at a time agreed with your export again), because when
reconnecting you will get most probably a new / different IP-address and then your "invitation" is
invalid, because the IP-address does not match anymore !


Connecting from the Expert System to give Assistance :

Once the "expert" has received the Invitation on his/her Windows XP system, double-click on the
Invitation file , which opens the "Remote Assistance" Window :

If a password was defined, then enter it now. Continue with YES.
Your system is then connecting to the "Novice" system :


Once an "Expert" connects to a "Novice" system, a confirmation message will be displayed :

You must click on "Yes" to allow the "expert" to continue and to view your system.
You will then the "Novice" windows of "Remote Assistance" :


You can chat via keyboard (type under "Message Entry" ) or via "Start Talking",
of both the system of the "Novice" and the "Expert" are equipped with a sound-card
with speakers and microphone.


The "Expert" has a different Window for "Remote Assistance" :


On the left, the section for chat messages, send / received via keyboard.
On the right, the desktop of the "Novice" system.
On top, the tools for the "Expert" .

At this time, the "Novice" is operating the system, the "Expert" is just watching, while
they exchange information via :
- keyboard chat, displayed as messages
- voice communication via the network using microphone and speakers
- phone call using a separate line

if allowed in the settings of the invitation, the "expert" can take control
of the system of the "Novice" by selecting in the toolbar "Take Control".
When the "expert" like to take
control, a message will pop-up
on the screen of the "Novice"
informing about this request .
If you agree to this request,
accept it by clicking on "Yes".
Once the "Novice" accepted the
request,a message will pop-up on
the "Expert" system to advise
about having control and to press
"ESC" or any key sequence or
combination including the ESC-key
to return control to the "Novice".
The section "Chat History" of the
"Remote Assistance" will show,
that control has been taken by the
Expert.

The Expert uses now the mouse
and/or keyboard of the "Expert"
system to operate the "Novice"
system to identify the problem,
checking for example:
- Control-Panel
- Device-Manager
- Event Log


To terminate a "Remote Assistance" connection, both the "Expert" and the "Novice" can select
in their control-section to "Disconnect".
The "Expert" will be informed about a "Disconnection" from the system of the "Novice":

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