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Just another software developer with opinions

Remote Control A Windows PC With Windows Connect

Or how to control a PC from another PC because reasons

May 29, 2018 ยท 3 min read

I have this PC which I used to use for all things computer-related - gaming, blogging, programming, mindless video consumption. Recently, I moved everything but gaming to my Surface. A part of me still wants to type using a mechanical keyboard and a real mouse but I still don't want to be tied down to my desktop for everything. Then I found Windows Connect and it changed everything.

Windows Connect

Windows Connect is a built-in feature of Windows that allows you to seamlessly project your Windows machine's screen onto a variety of devices. This includes Miracast-compatible devices and other Windows machines. The uses cases are mostly business-related. For instance, wirelessly projecting a presentation from your Android, Windows PC or Windows Phone directly to a projector or share your screen to a colleague on the same network but on a different floor.

The game changer: Reverse remote control

The feature is presented in a way that the main feature appears to be just projection. But for me, the game-changing feature is how it allows you to hand control to the projector. Yep, you heard that right. While writing this article, I'm projecting my Surface to my desktop but I'm using my desktop's keyboard, monitor and mouse to write it. It's like VNC, but well-integrated into Windows.

Getting it to work

On the Windows Machine you want to project to, go to Settings App -> System -> Projecting to this PC. On the "Some Windows and Android devices can project to this PC when you say it's OK" (Whew! that's a long label!), set it to "Available everywhere". On the Windows device you want to project, simply open the notification bar and hit Connect. Select your target machine, then define the screen setup and remote control options.

Caveats

Casting is like your typical game streaming setup: It's capturing your screen, encoding it into a video, and sending it over to the other machine for decoding and rendering. That means all the heavy lifting is done on the projecting machine. Doing something that competes with the encoding will cause stuttering, artifacting, and/or input lag. Also, if either device drops out of the network, projection doesn't self-recover and you have to manually reconnect. A stable connection is recommended.

Conclusion

I can now seamlessly transition between my desktop and Surface without having to move stuff between the two devices. All I need to do is dock the Surface, project and hand over control to the PC and control from there. All that achieved without messy cabling and software. Now if I could just borrow processing power from the desktop in the same way you can offload graphics processing to an external GPU. Hmmm...

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