Remote Assistance in XP

Before you start

Objectives: learn various methods of sending invitations for remote assistance in XP.

Prerequisites: no prerequisites.

Key terms: invitation, remote, help, assistance, helpdesk, session, e-mail, messenger, invite


Remote Assistance Protocol uses the Remote Desktop Protocol as its core protocol for making a connection. Using Remote Assistance, the help desk can establish a chat session with the user, so they can let the user know exactly what they are doing. If we encounter a problem and we don’t know how to solve it, the first thing we have to do is send an invitation to the help desk. Help desk is not always connected to our machine, so we have to let them know that we have a problem. We do that by sending aninvitation. We can send an invitation by email, or we can use the Windows Messenger to contact the help desk. Once the help desk gets the invitation, they will send back a response to us. The response will come in the format of a dialog box, and in the dialog box it will say ‘OK, I’m ready now to help and assist you’, and we will click OK. That way we let the help desk know that we’re ready to establish a Remote Assistance session. In the next dialog box we have to input our user password so that they can login as us. Once that’s done, the Remote Assistance session is opened. At this point the help desk can take remote control of our computer and do any of the troubleshooting that is necessary. Once the session is connected, the user has the ability to terminate the session at any moment.

If our Remote Assistance session is going over the Internet, we have few things to remember. Of course, we have to be connected to the Internet the whole time the Remote Assistance session lasts. If we get disconnected from the Internet during Remote Assistance session, it is possible that we will get a new IP address when we connect back to the internet. In this case, we have to send a new Invitation to the help desk, because the help desk will connect to our computer using the IP address that we got from our Internet Service Provider. If our computer goes to ‘Stand by’ or ‘Hibernate’ mode, the session will, of course, end. Also, we have to make sure that the port 3389 is opened in our Firewall. If that port is not enabled, the Firewall will prevent the Remote Assistance communication.


Remote Assistance is enabled by default with Windows XP Professional. To disable or configure Remote Assistance properties, right-click ‘My Computer’ and select ‘Properties’ to open system properties, and then click the ‘Remote’ tab. Notice that the Remote Assistance is enabled.

 Remote Assistance

Image 243.1 – Remote Tab

If we want to disable it, we can simply clear that check box and click on the ‘Apply’ button. Let’s click ‘Advanced’ button to set additional properties.

Advanced Settings

Image 243.2 – Advances Settings

Right now the computer is configured to allow remote control. If we don’t want to allow remote control of our computer, we can simply clear that check box and click the OK button. Also, we can set the maximum time invitation can remain open. This setting sets the time in which we can get an answer from the help desk. There are several ways to send a Remote Assistance invitation. We can use Windows Messenger for sending invitations to our friends or coworkers. When we sign in to Windows Messenger, we can right-click on a particular contact and select ‘Ask for Remote Assistance’.

Messenger And Remote Assistance

Image 243.3 – Messenger and Remote Assistance

Messenger Invitation Sent

Image 243.4 – Invitation Sent

Windows Messenger comes with Windows XP installation, but we can also use a newer version which is called ‘Windows Live Messenger’. In Live Messenger, all we have to do is to start a conversation with our contact, go to the ‘Activities’, and then select ‘Request Remote Assistance’.

Windows Live Messenger

Image 243.5 – Live Messenger

Let’s cancel this request and minimize Windows Messenger. We can also use the ‘Help and Support’ center to send invitations using several different methods. Go to the Start Menu and select ‘Help and Support’. Under ‘Ask for assistance’ section we can invite a friend to connect to our computer with Remote Assistance.

Help and Support

Image 243.6 – Help and Support

Let’s select that and invite someone to help us.

Remote Assistance Invitations

Image 243.7 – Remote Assistance

Let’s click on ‘Invite someone to help you’.

 Choosig a method to send invitation

Image 243.8 – Choosing a Method

Notice that we can use Windows messenger to send the invitation to our friends in the contact list. We can click on a person from a list, and click on ‘Invite this person’.

Sending an invitation

Image 243.9 – Sending Invitation to Contact From Messenger

Let’s cancel this. Notice that we can also use e-mail to send the invitation. Let’s type an e-mail address ‘[email protected]‘.

 Invitation trough email address

Image 243.10 – Invitation Trough E-mail Address

Click ‘Invite this person’. On the next screen we can enter a message to explain our problem.

Invitation with message

Image 243.11 – Invitation With Message

Click ‘Continue >’. On the next screen we can set the invitation time to expire. In our example we will leave the default setting. We can also require the recipient to use a password to connect to our computer. It is strongly recommended to use this feature. Of course, we do need to contact the person that will help us and tell what the password is.

 Invitation Settings

Image 243.12 – Invitation Settings

Let’s click on ‘Send Invitation’. Our default e-mail application will open up and ask us to confirm that we want to send the invitation. We will click ‘Send’.

Sending Invitation Using Mail

Image 243.13 – Sending Invitation Using Mail

Let’s go back to ‘Help and Support’ and let’s choose ‘Invite someone to help you’ again. Now, notice that we have a third option when working with invitations. We can save our invitation as a file. Let’s click ‘Save invitation as a file (Advanced)’. We can set the name and the time for an invitation to expire.

Saving Invitation

Image 243.14 – Save Invitation

Let’s click ‘Continue >’. On this screen we can set a password for the recipient to use. Of course, we do need to contact the person that will help us, and tell that person what the password is.

Setting Password

Image 243.15 – Setting Password

Let’s click ‘Save Invitation’. A new window will open. We can choose where to save our invitation. In this case we will save it to ‘My Documents’ folder.

Saving to My Documents

Image 243.16 – Saving to My Documents

Our invitation has been successfully saved.


Image 243.17 – Result

Now, all we have to do is open our default e-mail application and send the invitation as an attachment.

We can also review the status of our invitations. To do that let’s open ‘Help and Support’ again, and select ‘Ask a friend to help’. Here, let’s click on ‘View invitation status’.

Invitation Status

Image 243.18 – Invitation Status

Here we can see the status and details of our invitations. We can also delete or manually set the status of an invitation to ‘expired’. To do that, first we have to select an invitation, and then click on any of the buttons bellow. If our invitation expired, we can resend an invitation to make it active again.

Invitation Details

Image 243.18 – Invitation Details


Remote Assistance is enabled by default with Windows XP Professional. We can send an invitation by e-mail, or we can use the Windows Messenger to contact the help desk. Port 3389 has to be enabled on our Firewall.