What is Microsoft Quick Assist? Quick Assist is a Microsoft Windows feature that allows a user to view or control a remote Windows computer over a network or the Internet to resolve issues without directly touching the unit. It is based on the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP). It is complemented by Get Help, a feature introduced in Windows 10 that enables the user to contact Microsoft directly but does not allow for remote desktoping or screen sharing.
Before Quick Assist was introduced in Windows 10, Windows XP and later Windows versions offered a similar feature called Windows Remote Assistance.
What is Microsoft Quick Assist?
A little-known app that comes with Windows 10, Quick Assist is a remote-access tool that connects two PCs over the internet so that a person at one PC can remotely control the other. In this way, the person controlling the remote PC can diagnose or fix a problem with it — for example, by running an anti-malware program or uninstalling a troublesome hardware driver.
Under Quick Assist, users at both PCs see the desktop of the PC being controlled. That also makes this app a great teaching tool: The person remote-controlling the PC can demonstrate to the other person how to use an application or perform a particular task.
So if you need to provide tech help for a co-worker, family member or anyone else and you can’t do so in person (sound familiar?), here’s how to quickly get their Windows 10 PC connected to yours through Quick Assist.
Windows admins point out “bugs” in Microsoft’s approach
Following Redmond’s announcement, Windows admins and users showed their frustration in replies to a Tech Community post, saying that this move doesn’t make any sense.
As many of them pointed out, the new version requires local admin privileges to be installed (something regular users don’t have on enterprise endpoints), removes support for the keyboard shortcut, and it installs next to the old, native version (which will get launched instead of the new one).
“Best thing about the existing Quick Assist is that it’s guaranteed to be on every Windows 10 computer, which means we don’t have to walk someone through an installation over the phone, which always carries the risk that they will install an impostor (malicious) app,” one admin said.
“Is there a mechanism for deploying the new version to all users on all machines? A simple GPO deployment would be preferred. Maybe an MSI could be made available? I am a one-man IT department managing roughly 70 Windows PCs and do not have any type of more sophisticated software deployment mechanism in place,” another one added.
A better approach, according to some of the Windows admins annoyed by this sudden and abruptly announced change, would be to update the existing Quick Assist application via Windows Updates with the new features and capabilities Microsoft wants to integrate into the new app.
“It needs to be deployable in a system context and Microsoft need to understand that sysadmins do not want their end users to be administrators of their machines,” someone else explained.
App Download and Install Restrictions
Microsoft’s announcement explained that some users couldn’t install Quick Assist after Microsoft switched it from being an embedded-app Windows capability into an application that’s just downloadable from the Microsoft Store.
People with managed devices sometimes weren’t able to download the new Quick Assist app from the Microsoft Store because they lacked organizational permissions, a Microsoft support article acknowledged. The support article had suggested that such organizations could use the Microsoft Store for Business or Education to distribute the app to users. However, that advice is rapidly fading as an option, as Microsoft is planning to end those stores early next year.
The coming December 2022 and January 2023 Windows quality updates, though, will ease matters for Quick Assist users, Microsoft’s announcement suggested. In some cases, users of the old Quick Assist embedded app will get the new Quick Assist functionality.
“After you install the update, the original version of Quick Assist will have the same functionality that’s in the Store app version,” the announcement explained.
Moreover, these updated non-Microsoft Store versions of Quick Assist will have the same product lifecycle support as the Windows lifecycle.
“The original version of Quick Assist will continue to be supported for the duration of the lifecycle of the versions of Windows listed above,” the announcement added.
Quick Assist’s switch to being a Microsoft Store app originally was foreshadowed in this April Office Insider post. That post had oddly indicated that the “current built-in Quick Assist app is reaching end of service.” Performance and security improvements were other reasons for making Quick Assist a Microsoft Store app.
Should You Be Using Microsoft Quick Assist?
One of the many operational challenges resulting from our current normal is the fact that, even though technology has never been more important to our daily routines, support for that technology has never been farther away. Right now, if something were to go wrong with a user’s machine or mission critical application, help wouldn’t be just around the corner or down the hall. The thing is, physical separation doesn’t mean those end users have to feel like they’re on their own.
Organizations leveraging Windows 10 have access to a built-in application capable of shrinking the distance between users and the technology guidance they need. Microsoft’s Quick Assist allows those in need of help to receive – or for experts to deliver – support via a remote connection.
We reached out to Michael Pocock, Security Team Lead for Arraya’s Managed Services Practice (and all-around Microsoft wiz) to learn more about Quick Assist.
Arraya Insights: What stands out to you most about Quick Assist?
Michael Pocock: For me, there are a few things. It’s a built-in solution so there’s no need to spin anything up or install anything. Also, there are no licenses to worry about beyond that initial Windows 10 license. This makes Quick Assist a very user (and admin) friendly solution. If something is going wrong, it’s not going to add to their frustrations. All it takes to get started is searching for and clicking on Quick Assist in the Windows search bar. It’s that easy.
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