Windows' built-in Remote Desktop Connection utility is a bit basic; it offers few options, and multiple connections fill up the taskbar, making it awkward to switch among desktops. If you regularly access multiple remote machines or just want an improved remote desktop client, check out RD Tabs from Avian Waves. It uses a tabbed interface to manage open remote connections with a familiar functionality similar to current browsers, keeping everything in one spot. But it offers so much more than just better organization, with extra features like password encryption, remote terminal server management, connection thumbnails, and command line scripting.
To use RD Tabs, your computer must have Microsoft Net Framework 2.0 or higher; the installer might use Windows Update to check for the latest version. We installed it on machines running Windows XP and Windows 7 Ultimate, and successfully established remote connections via both. That's no trick, though, since Windows does it well enough. But if you're familiar with the Windows client, RD Tabs' efficient yet feature-packed interface will come as a revelation. RD Tabs' clean dialog is anchored by a full complement of useful file menu entries, including an interesting Tools menu and numerous Connections menu settings. The connection tab bar and an additional taskbar display connection, time, and security status as well as other relevant data. Establishing a remote connection is just as easy as with the Windows tool, though, despite RD Tabs' numerous options; a New Connection wizard walked us through each step of the process. Tabs on the connection properties dialog let you configure everything from log-on and display options to alternate shells. There's even a user experience tab for allowing options like blinking cursors and bitmap caching, something unexpected that could prove useful in accessing an unusually configured remote machine. This flexible tool seems to lack no configuration option or setting.
If you regularly access remote desktops, RD Tabs can definitely improve your experience. It's an excellent example of the sort of free tool that not only enhances Windows but adds many capabilities, too.