How can I remote desktop from Windows XP into Windows Vista? Is there an update to XP's mstsc.exe app that will allow it to work with Vista's version of the RDP protocol?

I know there's VNC, but I'd rather avoid starting another service in Vista -- it consumes enough resources as it is.

Thanks for the help!

  • I didn't need to do anything special...just enabled remote desktop in Vista, and had no problems connecting from XP -> Vista. Just make sure both your machines have all windows updates installed?
    – davr
    Oct 12, 2009 at 17:22
  • Also, let us know what edition of Vista you have...the lower editions do not have remote desktop capability.
    – davr
    Oct 12, 2009 at 17:24

8 Answers 8


You need V6 of Remote Desktop


You need to have the current version of the Terminal Services Client (RDP 6.1), which requires XP SP3.

Also try to enable downlevel access from the Vista box:

Start -> Computer -> Properties -> Remote Settings -> "Allow connections from computers running any version of Remote Desktop (less secure)"


You do need either Vista Business, Enterprise, or Ultimate too. Though I think there are ways to enable it on home, but it may void your license...


I know you said you didn't want VNC, but CoPilot does work very well, and is quite agnostic about windows versions.

  • Joel? Michael? I thought you guys had your own accounts already? (I'm kidding, copilot is good)
    – swilliams
    Oct 9, 2008 at 16:13
  • 1
    CoPilot unfortunately costs money. A better alternative (in my opinion) is CrossLoop (crossloop.com). It's similar in design, but is currently free.
    – Kevin
    Oct 9, 2008 at 16:46
  • Last I heard, it was free at weekends
    – andygrunt
    Oct 12, 2009 at 16:20
  • free on weekends? that's a weird ploy.
    – davr
    Oct 12, 2009 at 17:23
  • It's to try to reach the casual user. I actually pay for an account so that I can help my mother and my in-laws as needed. (the pay-per-minute option works well for this kind of occasional use). Oct 12, 2009 at 20:17

This article discusses the Remote Desktop Connection 6.0 client update that helps you use the new Terminal Services features. These features are introduced in Windows Vista and in the Microsoft Windows Server 2008 operating system from a computer that is running one of the following operating systems:

  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003 with Service Pack 1 (SP1)
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003 with Service Pack 2 (SP2)
  • Microsoft Windows XP with Service Pack 2 (SP2)

The Remote Desktop Connection 6.0 client can be used to connect to legacy terminal servers or to remote desktops as before. However, the new features that are mentioned in this article are available only when the remote computer is running Windows Vista or Windows Server 2008.

Remote Desktop V6


You can also use the Remote Desktop feature of Windows Live Mesh, which has the additional feature of being able to remote access via Internet Explorer in addition to via the Live Mesh client.

  • Windows Live Mesh was discontinued on February 13, 2013.
    – jeffm
    Apr 22, 2019 at 13:44

Vista Ultimate has Remote Desktop, Vista Home (including Home Premium) does not. There are ways of enabling it but that is contrary to the licensing.


I'm pretty sure that you can connect from XP to a Vista or Windows 7 machine if you disable the extra layer of security introduced in the newer versions of RDP.

  1. Open up My Computer and click on the System Properties button
  2. Select the Advanced System Properties link
  3. Click on the Remote tab
  4. In the Remote Desktop section at the bottom select the second option "Allow connections from computers running any version of Remote Desktop (less secure)"

That should allow you to connect from your XP machines.

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