Many of you responded to the newsletter about Windows XP a couple of weeks ago, with the bulk of the messages reminding me that Microsoft's NetMeeting includes remote-control software.
I was already aware of NetMeeting's remote-control facilities. I was even aware that it shipped with Windows 2000 (unlike earlier operating systems). Perhaps I should have mentioned that in the newsletter, to both forestall the mail avalanche as well as to point out why XP's remote control is so much more of a problem.
NetMeeting is an application. Users (or administrators) can choose to install it or not. Users can choose to run it or not. Setting up remote control takes a number of actions on the user's part to enable the PC as a host. None of that is necessarily true for XP.
In XP, the remote-control function is an integral part of the operating system, giving you no choice about installation.
In XP, the remote-control function is an integral part of the operating system, and no choice about running an application is possible.
In XP, the remote-control function is an integral part of the operating system - just think of the security problems associated with other "integral" parts of the operating system (Internet Explorer, Windows scripting and so on).
Remote control delivered via an application isn't news - CloseUp, pcAnywhere and Carbon Copy were hot sellers for DOS machines a dozen years ago. NetMeeting simply took this and added Windows to the mix, and Microsoft wasn’t even first with that. Funk Software's Proxy (still going strong with a new Win 2000 version) was originally released for the Windows 3.x platform.
No, the real drawback to XP's remote-control system is precisely that it is no longer part of an application, but instead is buried inside the operating system and is subject to manipulation by the operating system-based API. That's what makes me worried.
This story, "This is no NetMeeting " was originally published by Network World.