SMS 2003 Remote Assistance Configuration

Microsoft Systems Management Server 2003 enables you to configure the Remote Assistance settings of Windows XP or Windows Server 2003 computers. This article describes the details of how this is done.

Remote Assistance is a technology in Windows XP Professional and Windows Server 2003 that enables users to help each other over the network. With this tool, a support professional can view the desktop of a user, while the two people communicate through a chat box. With the user’s permission, the support professional (helper) can even share control of the user’s computer to resolve issues remotely. With Remote Assistance, a help desk can assist users on the network, which is known as the Offer Remote Assistance feature.

Remote Assistance also enables administrators and support personnel to offer assistance to their users without requiring the users to initiate the Remote Assistance session. This capability is called Unsolicited Remote Assistance. It is disabled by default and can only be enabled using either an unattended.txt file during setup, with Group Policy or through SMS; which this article is about.

SMS 2003 uses Local Group Policy to configure settings on its clients.

Configuration of the client agents in SMS 2003 Administrator

General Tab

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The settings in the red square are the ones pertaining to Remote Assistance.
The ‘Enable Remote Tools on clients’ setting does not need to be checked for SMS to configure Remote Assistance on its clients.

Manage Remote Assistance settings
Select this to have SMS control clients’ settings for Remote Assistance.
If this setting is selected the information on the Security and Policy tabs are propagated to the clients using Local Group Policy.

Override Remote Assistance user settings
Select this to have SMS settings for Remote Assistance override the Remote Assistance settings on the clients.

Security tab

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These settings apply to both SMS Remote Tools and Remote Assistance.

Use this tab to select non-administrator users or groups that will be able to remotely access clients running Windows NT 4.0 or later. Members of the local Administrators group on clients can access the client remotely regardless of whether they are listen in the Permitted Viewers list.

Policy tab

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Here you select the level of access that the helper (support professional or administrator) has over the session. There are three alternatives:

  • Full control
  • Remote Viewing
  • None (disables Remote Assistance access)

Results on the client

Now let’s see how these setting are applied to a client.

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Here you can see the location of the settings that are changed in the Local Group Policy Object on the client. Both of these setting are set to Not Configured by default, but are changed when you select to have SMS control the Remote Assistance setting on the clients.

The ‘Offer Remote Assistance’ setting controls Unsolicited Remote Assistance.

If you select to have SMS control the Remote Assistance settings (Manage Remote Assistance) it sets this policy to Enabled on the next policy refresh. I then sets the remote control level that you specified on the Policy tab in SMS. In this case we selected Full in SMS and the setting in Local Group Policy is ‘Allow helpers to remotely control the computer’, which is the same level. Furthermore SMS sets the Permitted Viewers from the Security tab in the list of allowed helpers in Local Group Policy:

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From Ed Hammonds SMS pages:

If you uncheck the Remote Assistance boxes in the Remote Tools client config and update the policy this will leave the policy as-is. It does not return it to default. Recheck the RA boxes and then turned off RA from the Policy tab, wait for the CCM cycle and then SMS will disable Remote Assistance in the local policy. Uncheck RA boxes again so that settings made on the client will not be overwritten by SMS. The local policy stays at the last known setting until it is set locally to un-configured or is superseded by a Domain/OU GPO.

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