I have an XP machine which I want to access using RDP. The problem is until I log this machine into Windows, I can't get an RDP connection. Do I have to trick the PC into logging in at startup?
This is not correct, Remote Desktop (Not Remote Assistance) should work from the moment the machine is loaded and in Windows. I use it all the time on remote machines.
(If you edit your question, I will update this with an answer to help..)
VNC is typically installed in User Mode and does not allow interaction at the login screen.
Logmein Free is the only non corporate (free) solution I know of that works from the login screen.