Chrome Remote Desktop versus Windows Remote Desktop Connection – are they still needed?

February 2, 2024

Ross Ross Gerring

The rise of cloud-based applications has fundamentally changed the way we access and utilize software. From CRM platforms to graphic design suites, a growing number of solutions function entirely within a web browser, freeing us from the limitations of local installations. Yet, despite this shift, remote desktop connections – connecting to a physical computer from another device – remain surprisingly relevant. But why, in an age of ubiquitous web apps, would anyone still need to remotely access their work PC from home? And which tool reigns supreme: Chrome Remote Desktop or Windows Remote Desktop?

Firstly, a clarification is necessary. Though often used interchangeably, “Windows Remote Desktop Connection” (RDC) and “RDP” (Remote Desktop Protocol) are not synonymous. RDP is the underlying protocol that facilitates remote connections, while RDC is Microsoft’s built-in implementation of the protocol, available exclusively on Windows machines.

Now, back to the “why” of remote desktops. Several key scenarios showcase their continued value:

  • Specialized Software: Certain applications, particularly industry-specific or resource-intensive ones, might not have cloud-based counterparts. Remote access allows you to utilize these programs from any location with decent internet connectivity.
  • Offline Access: Cloud apps typically require an internet connection. If you find yourself needing to access files or programs while offline, a remote desktop connection to your local machine comes to the rescue.
  • Security Concerns: For some users, particularly those dealing with sensitive data, the security of a local machine compared to a cloud environment might outweigh the convenience of web apps.
  • Remote Assistance: IT professionals and tech-savvy individuals often use remote desktops to troubleshoot issues on other machines, offering convenient support without physical presence.

With the need for remote access established, let’s delve into the two main contenders: Chrome Remote Desktop and Windows Remote Desktop.

Chrome Remote Desktop:


  • Cross-platform compatibility: Works on Windows, Mac, Linux, and ChromeOS, offering broader device support than Windows Remote Desktop.
  • Simple setup: Requires only a Google account and Chrome browser installation on both ends.
  • Web-based access: No additional software installation needed on the client device.
  • Security: Utilizes HTTPS encryption and two-factor authentication for secure connections.
  • File transfer and clipboard sharing: Enables easy transfer of files and text snippets between devices.


  • Limited features: Lacks functionalities like audio and microphone redirection compared to Windows Remote Desktop.
  • Performance: Might experience latency or lag, especially on slower internet connections.
  • Security concerns: Some users might prefer the isolation of a local machine over a web-based solution.
  • Cannot wake up a sleeping or logged-out PC: This can be a significant drawback for users who want to remotely access their machine when it’s not actively in use.

Windows Remote Desktop:


  • Native experience: Optimized for Windows systems, offering smoother performance and wider feature compatibility.
  • Offline access: Can be used to access local resources even without an internet connection (with prior setup).
  • Supports Wake-on-Lan: If the target PC has this enabled.
  • Advanced features: Supports audio, microphone, and webcam redirection, ideal for remote presentations or collaboration.


  • Limited platform support: Only works on Windows machines, excluding Mac and Linux users.
  • Setup complexity: Requires more configuration steps compared to Chrome Remote Desktop.
  • Security considerations: Relies solely on Windows authentication, which might not be as robust as Google’s two-factor system.

The Verdict: A Two-Horse Race

Choosing between Chrome Remote Desktop and Windows Remote Desktop depends on your specific needs and priorities.

For those seeking simplicity, cross-platform compatibility, and basic remote access, Chrome Remote Desktop shines. However, if you prioritize performance, advanced features, and exclusive use within the Windows ecosystem, Windows Remote Desktop is the way to go.

The Future of Remote Desktops

Will remote desktop connections eventually become obsolete? It’s unlikely. While cloud-based solutions continue to evolve, there will always be scenarios where accessing a local machine offers unique advantages. Additionally, advancements in technology, such as faster internet speeds and improved compression algorithms, could further enhance the remote desktop experience.

Therefore, instead of a complete disappearance, we might see a shift towards specialized remote desktop solutions. Imagine cloud-based platforms offering granular control over specific applications, or AI-powered tools optimizing performance and security based on individual needs. The future of remote access might not be about replacing local machines, but rather seamlessly integrating them into a hybrid cloud-and-local environment, offering users the best of both worlds.