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Major Windows 8 Bug – Pro Pack Upgrade and Remote Desktop

Unbelievably there is a major bug with the Windows 8 Pro Pack upgrade – it doesn’t enable remote desktop for non-admin users. Given that one of the major selling factors of the Professional edition is remote desktop access, it beggars belief that this bug even exists, let alone the derisory and casual manner in which Microsoft have (barely!) responded.


This image shows the problem: the Select users… button is disabled, so you simply cannot allow users to remote desktop into the machine. Of course users who are members of the Local Administrators group can remote desktop in, and this is the current work around – though it obviously introduces a significant security hole into your system to have to grant people Admin rights.



Having spent many hours on the phone with Microsoft support, and having re-explained the issue to many different support people; having reinstalled the OS, re-upgraded, etc, etc I’m left in a position where THE reason I decided to upgrade to Pro, simply doesn’t work and I’m left having to enable users as Local Admins in order to be able to remote desktop to the computer.


In turns out that when you upgrade Win 8 Home to Professional using the “Pro Pack”, some of the additional local groups are simply not added to the computer. Here’s what the Local Groups should look like (picture taken from a computer with a “native” Win 8 Pro installation):


But here’s what the same screen looks like on a computer that has been upgraded from the Home edition to Professional:




Notice how there are several groups missing. This clearly means that there is significant other functionality in an upgraded Win 8 Pro that won’t work.


As far as remote desktop is concerned, it’s the absence of the “Remote Desktop Users”group that causes an issue, and prevents the relevant button from being enabled in System Properties


There are several posts about this on the internet, many of them lambasting the shocking response from Microsoft. I note that one of the users in this discussion on Technet has posted a registry file that he claims adds back the missing groups.


I might give that a go and will report back as to it’s success, though its obviously a significant risk downloading registry patches from both a security perspective, and also from the perspective of not knowing what side-effects the patch may have, especially if the root of the upgrade issue is not only the missing groups, but other failed aspects of the upgrade that might have more severe impact once the groups are re-enabled.


Update: Well I notice now that Remote Desktop seems to work: the Add Users button works, the missing groups have been restored and and you can thus be a non-admin user, and a remote desktop user, hurrah! What I can’t seem to find is any comment from Microsoft about which update/hotfix addressed this issue.


Update 2: Actually I’ve now finally found reference to it in these Microsoft KB articles: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2850661 http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2855336/en-us

Basically there was a roll-up of fixes issued in July 2013 which fixed this issue so as long as you keep your computer up-to-date this will (finally!) be solved.

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