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Remote Desktop Server on Windows XP Home

May 26th, 2008 · 1,428 Comments · Windows

First, I should mention that Remote Desktop Server is intended by
Microsoft to only be used as a part of the more expensive XP Pro and it
is not intended to be used in XP Home. Despite this, all the files
required to use it seem to be included in Home. The downloadable termserv.dll mentioned below is normally installed by the SP2 beta on both Home and Pro machines, as well.

In addition the linked guide has you take actions which Microsoft believes violate your EULA. (See point 1 below.)

Now that I’ve got that out of the way: This sounds pretty cool. Some things to be aware of:

  1. Changing your XP Home to XP Pro is a violation of your Windows EULA, or at least MS thinks so. Normally there are safeguards in place to prevent you from doing this which attempt to scare the user into not trying to change the registry setting that controls it. Using Last Known Configuration like in the article circumvents the safeguard by tricking Windows itself into changing the value. Note that this hack doesn’t appear to affect Windows Update or Windows Genuine Validation.
  2. The XP Home -> Pro hack itself only changes your Windows’ reported version… you will be still missing some XP Pro components such as Group Policy Editor since those aren’t included in Home.
  3. According to some comments the special termserv.dll apparently isn’t needed. It’s only needed if you want to allow remote and local connections at once, and is only useful if you have multiple user accounts (the local account will still lock workstation if you sign in remotely with the current active account. It only works if you use different accounts, which makes sense).
  4. The blog post as-is will not work, and he claims the termserv.dll is a fix for a problem which the termserv.dll has no effect on. About halfway down the page is a comment by Mike about devcon which DOES fix the problem by installing the RDP driver. You can try using Add New Hardware wizard and selecting the machine.inf and installing the driver that way, but who knows if it’ll work like that. devcon.exe is probably the best way to do it.
  5. It was written for SP2 but it works on SP3.
  6. System Restore should cover all the things that you change by following the blog instructions, so set a restore point in case things break. You should be able to restore it later. Even still…
  7. The guide has you make changes to your system which affect the OS, drivers, and of course the Terminal Services service. Be careful to follow the directions. If you are unsure what some of the modifications do you may want to go learn before trying or just skip it altogether.
  8. One of the patches seems to enable autologon. After getting everything working, you can adjust autologon settings by doing Start > Run and typing “control userpasswords2”. The checkbox at the top controls autologon, if you uncheck it click OK and you’ll be prompted for autologon settings. You can check it to restore default Windows behavior.
  9. Don’t try this on Vista. Just… don’t. I can’t say for sure with 100% certainty it won’t work, but given the way Vista is distributed compared to XP and the different setup and license processes, it probably won’t work. Terminal Services itself has received updates to support Aero Glass etc over Remote Desktop.

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