Reaching out to a remote PC can pose a challenge for network managers due to the diverse mix of client platforms most IT departments must support. Symantec's latest release of pcAnywhere 32 8.0 provides remote-access control to both Windows-based and DOS clients and to a wide array of other platforms via its new thin client, pcAnywhere Express.
Available in the form of ActiveX, Java (in a technology preview version), and a Netscape Navigator plug-in, the Express client can run on many operating systems, including Unix and Macintosh. (Symantec has yet to set a release date for the Java portion.) This feature alone makes pcAnywhere 32 8.0 stand head and shoulders above Artisoft's CoSession Remote 32 8.0. As an added bonus, it's also simple to use.
The pcAnywhere Express client allows you to gain complete control of a remote desktop using a Microsoft Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator Web browser. You can place a Web-based client control anywhere you want, such as on the client's computer or a Web page. Express can also transfer the contents of the clipboard to a remote machine.
This comes in handy in instances where data may need to be duplicated, such as when simultaneously editing files on both systems.
A time-tested market leader, pcAnywhere 32 8.0 expands on the robust functionality of previous versions.
For example, users can now leverage Microsoft's CryptoAPI, which lets pcAnywhere directly integrate with the Windows NT user database. At a minimum, this means you don't have to redefine a new database of users who are allowed remote access to a system. You simply manage the previously existing user accounts to grant and deny access. This makes setup and configuration a breeze.
CryptoAPI brings pcAnywhere 32 8.0 some low-level encryption services that work to protect session initiations, remote control, file transfers, chat, logs and other pcAnywhere objects. Therefore, pcAnywhere can employ public-key or symmetric encryption.
The capability to lock the workstation when the software is waiting for a connection, and to log-off the system when a user disconnects, lend significantly to the overall security of the product. In addition, you can set up pcAnywhere's configuration so if a user suddenly drops a connection, no other connection is allowed for a specific period of time except from that disconnected user.
Two nice features of pcAnywhere 32 8.0 are its ColorSmart and SpeedSend technologies. ColorSmart technology speeds up screen-refresh rates, making screen draws much smoother and faster than those of CoSession Remote 32, Version 8.0. SpeedSend technology allows pcAnywhere to update only the parts of a file that have changed. So if you are working on a 2MB document, you don't have to wait for the entire file to be saved back to a remote system -- a really nice touch.
This version also sports built-in videoconferencing via Symantec's integration of CU-See-Me 3.0, another good move. The conferencing technology employs multicasting, which means that pcAnywhere 32 8.0 can support multiple conferencing sessions to a remote system.
In addition, pcAnywhere 32 8.0 supports remote printing, allowing users to print from a printer attached to the remote system to which they are connected.
The software was a breeze to install. I loaded the server components on my Windows NT server, which involved defining an installation directory. I then quickly configured a host session to wait for connections by defining the connection method from the extensive available options, including Banyan Vines, Novell SPX, TCP/IP, and modems.
I then installed pcAnywhere Express on a remote workstation, which was a simple process of defining a directory to store the software. From that point, you just fire up your browser and load the default Web page in the installation directory. Of course, you can use a convenient shortcut on your desktop as well.
I found the ActiveX version of the new thin client to be so simple to use that I can honestly say anyone can do it with minimal training. Because the controls are embedded into a Web page, a user need only be familiar with using a Web browser to get started.
Because pcAnywhere 32 8.0 relies on the built-in Windows NT user database, all I had to do to connect to my remote server was load the ActiveX Web page, click on connect, select my remote server from the list, and presto! I was immediately authenticated and connected.
Symantec has covered just about every imaginable aspect of remote access and remote control in this new release.
I am quite impressed with pcAnywhere 32 8.0's ease of use, ease of deployment and ease of management. I highly recommend it. pcAnywhere 32 8.0This robust remote-access solution now lets you control a remote PC via a Web browserPros: Very easy to install, configure and administer; ActiveX, Java and Netscape plug-in client software; multicast videoconferencing; custom disconnection controls; Windows NT user database integration; remote printer supportCons: None significantPlatforms: Windows 95, Windows NT Workstation and Server 3.51, Windows NT 4.0Price: RRP is $239 for pcAnywhere 32 8.0 Host and RemoteExpress DataTel (02) 9598 9100 Fax (02) 9693 2629Data FlowTel (02) 9417 9700 Fax (02) 1800 227 460 Tech PacificTel (02) 9381 6000 Fax 9381 6290www.symantec.com.au