Remote Assistance (RA) was designed to allow for help-desk staff to assist users and to troubleshoot system problems for Windows XP Professional desktop computers. It is turned on by default on Windows XP Professional, but for security reasons, it is turned off by default on Windows Server 2003 computers.
To request remote assistance, both the RA requester and the RA provider computers must be running either Windows XP Professional or Windows Server 2003. An RA request can be made via an email message, via Windows Messenger, or by sending an RA invitation as a file.
RA can be used over an Internet connection, over a local area network (LAN) connection, or through a firewall connection to the Internet, as long as TCP port 3389 is open on the firewall at each end. If one location does not have a firewall it is not necessary to open port 3389 for that location as all ports are open without a firewall present unless ISP blocks them.
Windows Server 2003 Active Directory domains offer two group policy object (GPO) settings for the RA feature. Both appear in the Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\System\Remote Assistance node.
The Solicited Remote Assistance GPO setting determines whether users can request help from other users via RA. When it is enabled, you must specify either Allow Helpers to Remotely Control the Computer or Allow Helpers to Only View the Computer. You must also specify the Maximum Ticket Time (Value), Maximum Ticket Time (Units) and the method for sending email invitations: Mailto or Simple MAPI. The Mailto option lets RA providers reply to RA invitations via a hyperlink within the email message that connects the RA provider to the RA requester's computer. The Simple MAPI (SMAPI) option embeds the RA invitation file as an attachment within the email message. Double-clicking this attachment connects the RA provider to the RA requester's computer.
The Offer Remote Assistance GPO setting determines whether another user, known as the expert, can offer RA without the user requesting it. However, the expert user cannot connect to the computer needing assistance without the user's permission, even if this GPO setting is enabled. As with the Solicited Remote Assistance GPO setting, you must select either Allow Helpers to Remotely Control the Computer or Allow Helpers to Only View the Computer from the Permit Remote Control of This Computer drop-down list box. You must also specify the names of the users and groups that you want to grant permission to offer RA by clicking the Helpers: Show button.