In addition to the release of Windows 8.1, Microsoft today launched Microsoft Remote Desktop for Android and iOS, bringing the Windows desktop to phones and tablets. You can download the free app now directly from Google Play and Apple’s App Store.

As its name implies, the app lets you can connect to a remote PC while on the go. This is mainly aimed at business users looking to get their work done from wherever they are, but you can use the Remote Desktop client for your own purposes.

Here’s the official feature list for both Android and iOS:

  • Access to remote resources through the Remote Desktop Gateway.
  • Rich multi-touch experience with remote desktop protocol (RDP) and RemoteFX supporting Windows gestures.
  • Secure connection to your data and applications with breakthrough Network Layer Authentication (NLA) technology.
  • Simple management of all remote connections from the connection center.
  • High quality video and sound streaming with improved compression and bandwidth usage.

Interestingly, the iOS app has an extra bullet point: “Easy connection to external monitors or projectors for presentations.” It’s not clear if the Android app is missing this feature and will be added in a subsequent update, or if it’s just not listed.

Here’s the Android app showing the Windows 8 desktop:

android 730x456 Microsoft launches Remote Desktop for Android and iOS, bringing the Windows desktop to phones and tablets

Here’s the iOS app in the same view:

 Microsoft launches Remote Desktop for Android and iOS, bringing the Windows desktop to phones and tablets

If you need something on your Windows desktop but aren’t nearby, this app is for you (unless, as crazy as it sounds, you’re using a Windows Phone). Microsoft has offered remote access to Windows PCs and Macs for years, but this is the first time the functionality is available to mobile devices that aren’t running one of its operating systems.

The Windows PC that you want to access will need to also be running Remote Desktop, but as a host. You can read more about setting that up on Microsoft.com.

Last week, Microsoft quietly announced the app was coming to Android and iOS sometime this month. The news was slipped in as a one-sentence mention, buried in a press release.

At the time of writing, Microsoft hasn’t made an announcement the apps are available (Update on October 18: now they have). Clearly the company doesn’t want to promote the release of Remote Desktop on non-Microsoft platforms.

Top Image Credit: AFP/Getty Images