Windows 7 remote desktop annoyance.
February 25, 2013 3:47 PM   Subscribe

Windows 7 remote desktop won't reveal the name of the user logged in.

Back when I would remote onto a Windows XP desktop at work, and there was already a user logged into that computer, Windows would reveal that user's name. Microsoft has apparently disabled this feature in Windows 7, much to my annoyance. I've tried working with my employer's IT help desk and their only suggestion has been to purchase multi-seat, annually-renewed license to a big enterprisey remote/virtual server management suite.

Google is not helping me today. Can anyone tell me how to "un-disable" this feature and make Window 7 tell me (and any other user trying to remote in) who's currently logged in to the remote computer?

(One workaround we've tried, but still has some bugs, is to put a startup script on the Windows 7 computer that writes a record of the login to a file on a shared drive. Then, when this works, you can just check that file to see who's logged in. We could probably work out the kinks in this method, but it just seems ridiculous to have to do this.)
posted by paper chromatographologist to Computers & Internet (6 answers total)
From Technet (via), you should be able to run this command from any machine which has remote access to the machine:

>query session /server:MYREMOTEMACHINE

sample output on my machine at work, looking at my second machine on the same network:
C:\windows\system32>query session /server:jac-2
services 0 Disc
console jacalata 1 Active

The same answer is given at ServerFault with a few other options as well.
posted by jacalata at 3:54 PM on February 25, 2013

Thanks jacalata, I forgot about that one. I found that page ServerFault page too, and it didn't help. I suppose I'm missing something.

When I try that command from the command line on my Windows XP computer I just get an error of the "couldn't find that computer" variety. The computer I'm remoting to a desktop PC with a vanilla Windows 7 installation, not a server.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 4:02 PM on February 25, 2013

Microsoft changed the RDP authentication protocol after Windows XP. It used to be that RDP would connect and you'd get a normal logon box (I think this is where you might have seen the current user's logon name). Post XP the authentication happens during the connection process. The new scheme is called "Network Level Authentication".

I don't believe there's any going back. Not that you should want to really; NLA is a good thing from a security and resource usage standpoint.

The "big enterprisey remote/virtual server management suite" doesn't let you see the logged on user either. It just lets you have more than one RDP session running simultaneously.
posted by sbutler at 4:27 PM on February 25, 2013

Hm. It shouldn't require the target machine to be a server- that's not mentioned anywhere, and the two machines I have are running Server 2012 and Windows 8 and it works in both directions for me. To ask an obvious question, how positive are you that you have the correct machine name for the remote machine? I can't quite tell how technical you are, so if you're not positive, you can check it by going to a command line on the Windows 7 machine and typing
posted by jacalata at 4:43 PM on February 25, 2013

Are you able to log on with RDS? If so, 'query user' at a command prompt should tell you who's logged on ... at least, that's working for me over RDS to a Win7 box. But maybe that's not what you need.
posted by anadem at 4:50 PM on February 25, 2013

This kind of bullshit is exactly why, for the past eight years, I've been using UltraVNC for remote support on the Winboxen at school. Once you've installed their mirror driver, it Just Works. I get at it by using my ssh tunnel to the school's VM hosting server and forwarding a local TCP port to port 5900 on the workstation I want, but UVNC also has assorted other connection options and inbuilt encryption if that's not a natural way to go.

VNC is different from Remote Desktop in that what you get remotely is exactly the same view as what the user sitting at the PC gets; there's no separate logon session. It also doesn't support sound, and has its own weird-ass file transfer protocol. All of that works fine for me for school support, but might not suit you.
posted by flabdablet at 5:55 AM on February 26, 2013

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