RDC for Mac v2 Beta2 is Here!

From Mac Mojo Guest Blogger David Liu of the MacBU RDC team


Greetings from the MacBU RDC team! My name is David Liu and I am the program manager for Mac RDC 2.0. I am very excited to announce the availability of the public beta2 version of Microsoft Remote Desktop Connection (RDC) Client for Mac 2.0. You can download it today from Mactopia.


Thanks to the valuable feedback many of you submitted during RDC beta1 testing at the RDC MS Connect site and here at Mac Mojo, we were able to address some important issues in this beta2 release. For instance, the support for multiple sessions is now much improved. Many beta1 users told us they liked the ability to launch more than one RDC sessions, but wanted more convenient access to this feature. You have it now. In beta2 under File menu, File->New command allows you to start a new Remote Desktop connection directly from the RDC application; File->Open and File->Open Recent commands allow you to open a saved connection file and start a new connection without digging through your folders in Finder. You can still open a connection file without triggering a new session by using File->Edit… command. In the new design, you will never need to leave RDC to launch a new connection session. A less apparent, but nevertheless important benefit is that RDC 2.0 now manages multiple connection settings in connection files as atomic units. When you select a computer name from the dropdown list on RDC 2.0 Connect window, RDC automatically switches the preference settings that matches the computer name, as defined by the corresponding connection file. There are no more global settings that apply to all Windows computers on that list. Because it is now more important to preserve the settings for a particular connection in a connection file, RDC 2.0 will prompt you to save any changes on exit. Of course, on the other hand you may wish to provide a set of defaults that apply to all new connections you create. RDC 2.0 allows you to directly edit Default.rdp file to do that. You can find Default.rdp and other saved connection files in your Documents/RDC Connections folder. I think the tighter association of computer names and their specific settings provide a more natural mental model of use.


There is another major new feature in this release that I am also very excited about: Vista Network Level Authentication support. Network Level Authentication (NLA) is a new authentication method available in Windows Vista that completes user authentication before you establish a full Remote Desktop connection and the logon screen appears. NLA provides more secure authentication but required massive code changes in the Mac RDC 2.0 client to support it. As Windows Vista gains a larger install base, and users and sysadmins are becoming more concerned with safeguarding their computers and data, more and more Vista machines will turn on the NLA requirement and refuse connections from legacy clients. We added NLA support in RDC 2.0 so that your Macs can still connect to your PCs in the years to come. I would like to encourage you to try it out leave us your feedback at the RDC MS Connect site.


There are more improvements in this beta2 release. Read the Read Me file that comes with the RDC bundle to find out more. You can also find up-to-date information about beta2 at the RDC MS Connect site. As usual, we want to hear from you. Send us your feedback here. My team and myself will be reading!


We hope that you enjoy RDC beta2!



Comments (36)

  1. Aaron Adams says:

    You’ve made multiple connections *better*, but they’re still *wrong*.

    What other app opens multiple instances of itself to make multiple connections or open multiple documents? In the upcoming Office 2008, will opening multiple Word documents or Excel spreadsheets cause a second instance of the respective application to open? Will composing an e-mail in Entourage cause a second copy of Entourage to be launched? Why does RDC behave this way?

    Have you guys seen CoRD? (http://cord.sourceforge.net/) It’s freeware, and its interface us *much* better than your RDC client. Multiple windows should open under the same application instance, and there should be a sidebar so users can see what connections are active and what pre-configured connections are available. Save those connections in ~/Library/Application Support/Microsoft RDC/settings.plist.

    Multiple identical icons to the right of the Dock representing each individual connection is a UI mess. Scrubbing over each one (labelled “Remote Desktop Connection”) to attempt to read the small IP address or machine name that is part of the icon is tough on the eyes, and the more items in my Dock and the more connections I have active, the harder they are to read.I should be able to click one RDC icon and see all my connections.

    It baffles me that Microsoft is having such a hard time getting this *right*. It’s as if you’ve never used your own software, or even a Mac at all. Take your queues from applications like CoRD, the Finder, and iTunes, and make a Mac-like RDC application.

  2. Corentin says:

    Talking about Connect, I reported two issues today, but I can’t get back to add comments as requested by e-mail…. It’s broken (once again) and doesn’t let me in.

    There is something awfully wrong with Connect :-

  3. While CoRD has a nicer connection management setup, it’s still missing quite a few features that Remote Desktop Client has, which are not minor. disk access management, key mapping in the UI, etc.

    CoRD’s a nice start, but in its current incarnation, there’s no way I could replace RDC with it.

  4. Dare I ask if it’s possible to enter a Backslash on a non US keyboard (works fine in CoRD). Unless this is sorted it’s a non starter tbh.

  5. szlwzl says:

    I agree with Aaron – the CORD interface is very nice and doesn’t require multiple instances to be opened and this is how it should be handled imho. Also, why do we require an installer for this? Surely it should be possible to have this as an application I can drag over like pretty much every other application on my mac. On the plus side – great work with the drive and printer support – it’s a feature that was very much missing. This beta is very interesting and I look forward to seeing the final version 🙂

  6. Gatis Abele says:

    Is it realy so that Windows 2000 Server is not supported by Mac RDC 2.0? In Read Me this OS is not listed.

  7. Scott says:

    Unfortuately I cannot install this, when the installer runs it gets  all the way to the "select a destination" screen and just sits there no volumes show up in window to select?

  8. Jeremy C. says:

    "As Windows Vista gains a larger install base,…"  Come on..Leopard sold 2 million copies its first weekend.  I’m willing to bet that only a small percentage of that was due to new hardware purchases which seems to be the majority of how Vista is gaining a larger install base.  Anyways, that’s my dig because someone has to continue to trolling in this blog.  Thanks for the RDC update.

  9. Gabriel Sterritt says:

    At the same time that you have some clamoring for "more Mac-like behavior" I am going to suggest that you make the client work similar to the Windows mstsc.exe insofar as the default behavior is to establish the connection full-screen for the connecting PC’s (or Mac’s) resolution.

    Thus the tug-of-war between those who expect it to work like Windows and those who expect it to work like a Mac begins!


  10. Marshall says:

    I really appreciate the work that’s being done on RDC.  Being able to open new sessions from the File menu is great progress.

    The session settings are still confusing.  The Preferences window is supposed to be for application-global preferences.  Having separate application preferences saved out to document files is against the very core of the design of Mac OS X.  We have over 7 years of examples here.

    Also, RDC is doing the same thing that has been so frustrating about Office since the introduction of Mac OS X, namely:

     You.  Do.  Not.  Own.  My.  Documents.  Folder.

    *I* organize my Documents folder, not Microsoft.  I decide where document files will be saved.  If I want a folder in my home folder called "RDC" where I save my session files, that’s my choice.  Applications should NEVER EVER create their own folders in user Documents folders in Mac OS X.  If you need to save application-wide settings, save them in Library/Preferences.  If you want to save individual session files, display a Save dialog and ask where to save them.  If you need to write out additional files that aren’t actual user-saved documents, put them in Library/Application Support.

    The rule is simple.  If the user doesn’t get to choose where it goes, it goes in Library.

    This is not Mac OS 9 anymore.  The Documents folder is not your domain.  Not for RDC’s default session, not for Entourage’s mail database, not for Word templates, not for anything that I haven’t chosen to save there.

    Ideally, the application-level Preferences would set defaults for new connections.  When I do File -> New, it would use what I’ve set in Preferences.  In addition, each connection can have its own preferences, maybe via a disclosure triangle in the window, maybe through a menu item (e.g. File -> Get Info, or Show Inspector, or whatever).  File -> Save As… lets me save out a session file.  This is standard document-based application behavior.

    I have to agree with Aaron Adams here — it’s just unbelievable that it’s so difficult to get an app that gets this very basic stuff right.

  11. John says:

    Great work. Looking forward to testing this out. Even with the market share on the rise, Vista is going to be on many computers in the next few years so NLA will be key.

  12. consumer4beta@hotmail.com says:

    Great so now RDC 6 on XP doesn’t support NLA but the Mac version does?

  13. Mike R. says:

    Is there some way to get back to the Beta1 installation?  Beta2 is much too unstable for me to use.  It seems to lose/misinterpret mouse and keyboard signals.  I have to log off of Windows and restart RDC.

  14. Hi David,

    Whilst I agree with Aarons comments about the UI not being particularly Mac like, I would still like to give you some praise for producing RDC at all! It would have been very easy to drop this when IE, WMP and Virtual PC all bit the dust.

    I have been using the beta now for a few weeks and I have to say it has work perfectly, no crashes, no issues. Its quick and hassle free.

    Keep up the good work, and if you get the time we would love to see a more Mac UI.

  15. Mike R. says:

    Marshall is absolutely right on the basics of application design for the Mac.  After so many years and so many examples of the right way to do things in a Mac environment, it is simply amazing that Microsoft can’t get it right.

    If this was Windows, there is no way you guys would break the model like this.

  16. Ryan says:

    Since switching to Mac about 18 months ago, I’ve used Parallels for ONE thing only, Remote Desktop.  Why is it that a remote desktop session running inside Parallels (On XP) is so much faster than the native Mac RDC client?  I thought maybe this newer version would help, but it’s still extremely slow (screen redraws, any resolution).  I’m running on a Mac Mini which doesn’t have dedicated video, but if a VM can do it, why can’t the native client do it?


  17. Lee Snover says:

    With Version 1 and Beta 1, I was able to connect to my Windows 2003 Terminal Servers with no problem.  Now with Beta 2, when I attempt to connect, I get an error:

    "You were disconnected from the Windows-based computer because there were problems during the licensing protocol.

    Try reconnecting to the Windows-based computer or ask your administrator if the license is properly configured."

    My Windows machines all work fine, and Macs using Beta 1 or the original RDC work fine.  Cord works fine.  I tried "downgrading" to beta 1, but it brings up the same message.  

    Anyone know what this is about or how to get around it?  

    On individual PCs and Servers that are just running TS in Admin mode, it connects fine, and the Drive and Printer sharing work much better then Beta 1, but on the actual configured Terminal Servers, I can not connect at all.

    Any help suggestions would be greatly appreciated.



  18. Gavin says:

    Wish to encourage you guys to continue developing and improving RDC. It’s an essential tool for admin’ing our Windows Web Servers.

  19. Lee Snover says:

    I agree, RDC for Mac is a great resource and I’m very appreciative that Microsoft is providing it.

    The new version should be great once the kinks are out.  

    This is an area where I think Microsoft has far outshown Apple.  The Remote capabilities in OSX are still very primitive and much slower then the RDC technology.

    I don’t understand why there is a bit of "click lag" on the Mac version of RDC now though.  With the Intel processors now, it seems the performance should be on par with Windows RDC, yet it almost feels like there’s a little "Mac go slow" code in there. Just enough to notice the difference. 😉



  20. Steve says:


    I’ve installed RDC Mac Beta 2 in order to connect to my XP pro desktop.  After allowing exceptions to my Windows Firewall, and making sure Remote Desktop is checked, I receive this error when I attempt to log into RDC:

      The Mac cannot connect to the WIndows-based computer.  

    My Mac laptop is simply connected wirelessly to the Internet; the XP Pro desktop is connected via cable modem to the Internet.  Since my PC’s IP address is dynamic, I’ve tried this one–with no luck.

    Are there any configurations or other issues I’m missing?  Any thoughts would be appreciated.

    Thanks, Steve

  21. Karl says:

    I agree completely with Marshall’s post above. Apple’s documentation is very clear about where applications should put its files. See the section titled "Don’t Pollute User Space" in the document titled "Where to Put Application Files" on Apple’s website (linked below)


  22. Aaron says:

    Works great, except that I’m unable to use file system redirection from either a win2k server or a winxp pro machine to my mac.

    Could be something obvious I’m missing, but cut & paste work fine.

  23. vsz says:

    Why oh, why Microsoft insist on having an INSTALLER, requiring admin access, to install a plain and simple OS X .app?

    Couldn’t we simply have a well behaving .dmg file, with a simple .app icon, which users could easily drop anywhere they want? Like they do with the better 99% of OS X apps?

    When in Rome…

  24. Andy K says:


    I think they addressed the thinking behind this several posts back. Certainly in 2008 it’s to aid deployment in a corporate environment.

    And although I personally prefer drag-and-drop .dmg programs, seeing as the main issues with Office on the Mac tend to be trying to use it in a (Windows) corporate environment, anything that helps the network admins install it on a wider scale has to be useful.

    I think this is one area where it’s understandably impossible for them to please everybody. Because there are strong (valid) reasons on both sides. But I think that, in this case, it’s the best decision for an "Office" suite.

  25. Chris Mulligan says:

    I’d like to second the people complaining about how preferences work.

    It, frankly, makes no sense. The Application -> Preferences interface is for global application preferences. Yet you transparently coopt that interface and instead make it apply to… something. It’s never clear WHAT the preferences are for.

    Multiple instances of the application is also bizarre. No program on OSX does that.

    Frankly it’s incredibly depressing how badly you guys have managed to mess up the UI on this. Have you ever used a Mac application? Have you ever encountered one that worked in any way like RDC does?

    Fixing New Connections is great. I have no clue how you thought the original solution was acceptable, but I’m glad you fixed that.

  26. vsz says:

    Andy K: What advantage can a .pkg style installer give to a corporate Apple network? Without experience in administrating such networks, I would think that copying files (folders) centrally is no more complicated than running scripts in unattented mode. Also, since most other programs are distributed as .dmg, this issue is something to be solved anyway in the "orthodox" way. AFAIK Apple Desktop addresses this issue in some ways, too. Finally, OSX usage tends to be more individual and small-network orientated, so I’m not sure if putting emphasis on large-scale corporate usage is justified here.

    IMO, one of the best things in OSX is the lack of the install/uninstall procedure, and MS consistently breaks that in OSX.

  27. Bill Psonis says:

    i have a little problem. everytime i disconnect from my windows xp pc, the remote app on my mac crashes. to be more precise, the xp window closes but the remote app on my mac continues running and after 2 seconds it crashes and i get this annoying message from osx —ignore/report/relaunch. anyone had the same experience?


    running osx 10.5

  28. EricG says:

    Don’t know if this has been mentionned here before…

    How about Kerberos support for RDC for Mac?

  29. Bill Psonis says:

    dont really understand what you mean by Kerberos support…

    i have tried all kinds of options from the RDC preferences menu…(auto reconnect and some security option) but i couldnt avoid this. its not like i can t work because the RDC crashed after i disconnect from my pc but as i said its annoying.

    here is the crash log…



  30. Chris Mulligan says:

    Another thought. Try using RDC 6 on Windows. Make Mac RDC have an interface like that, with multiple windows possible within a single application like all other mac applications.

    You guys aren’t clever enough and RDC isn’t enough of an edge case that your ideas have worked.

  31. evan says:

    I seem too be getting disconnection issues and wonder if the auto reconnect function actually works?

  32. mk says:

    I installed RDC on Leopard, and connected over Wifi to my XP box. The display is rather grainy  and performance is abysmal to the point of being unusable. Unfortunately, after about 5 minutes, RDC crashed out. I’ve no intention of ever upgrading to Vista  (hopefully I’ll have removed all traces of MS from my systems before I’m ever forced to upgrade), so I hope the tool is also being tested against XP ?

    Anyway, glad this tool exists at all, and look forward to the next version !

  33. Gunnar says:

    I use a German keyboard, I still can’t enter < or >. It will be translated to ^ and °

  34. Michael says:

    same problem with german keyboard and sometimes total crashes.

  35. Charles Lewis says:

    After using Beta 1 for several months I happily downloaded Beta 2 onto my Leopard Macbook and now when I try to connect to one of my Windows 2003 servers I get the following error:

    An authentication error has occured (Code: 0x ffffffd9).

    The problem might be temporary

    I’ve tried changing several settings, including the NLA security, but nothing I do makes any difference.

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