Citrix GoToMyPC 4.1, a service that links you to a remote host computer from any Internet-connected computer anywhere in the world, now includes improved support for Pocket PC mobile devices, Windows, Mac OS, and Linux and network installation, but we were disappointed to see that the software remains limited to 256-color support, making photos and color graphics look discolored and banded over the remote connection. With more and more people accessing their remote PCs over broadband Internet connections, this is a pretty big failing. By comparison, relative newcomer offers not only true color support, but also a free, feature-limited version, and the paid version of MyWebEx PC costs half as much as GoToMyPC. Among Windows-based users and small businesses, we think MyWebEx PC is a much better buy. On the corporate side, however, GoToMyPC Corporate edition, with its comprehensive user management features, remains our preferred option for IT administrators. GoToMyPC installs over the Web through a very simple process. You either create your own account on GoToMyPC.com or have one created for you by your system administrator if your business already subscribes to a GoToMyPC plan. Then, via the GoToMyPC Web site, simply download and install a tiny piece of software on the host computer (that is, the computer you'll access from afar). Once installed, GoToMyPC installs an icon in the system tray of the host PC. Right-click the icon, then select Preferences to configure settings, such as your password or choice of local or remote printers.
To access your host PC from the road, simply log on to the www.GoToMyPC.com Web site using any Web browser. If your host computer is turned on, you'll see it listed as available for connection. Click the Connect button to download and run the client software on your remote Windows, Mac OS, or Linux machine. Simply enter your password, and you'll see a new window on your desktop displaying your host Windows PC desktop, just as if you were sitting in front of that monitor. Pull-down menus at the top of the window let you control features such as file transfer and zoom.
On the flip side, when sitting in front of your host computer, you can invite a guest to access your PC, either as a spectator only (for a private sales conference) or by sharing control of your keyboard and mouse (useful for technical support instances). MyWebEx PC does not offer guest privileges. There are also whiteboard and text chat capabilities within GoToMyPC for limited collaboration between two users. For a more complete collaboration and online meeting software, Citrix offers GoToMeeting.
Perhaps because of years without competition in remote desktop-access services, GoToMyPC remains limited to 256 colors, which makes graphics look banded. This shouldn't pose much of a problem for those just checking e-mail or doing word processing, but it makes it difficult to work with photos, since colors are distorted and blocky. The company says it is working on true color support for a future version of the software, but even the free version of competitor MyWebEx PC already offers true color support.
Unlike MyWebEx PC, however, GoToMyPC works on Macintosh and Linux systems, though it doesn't offer some advanced features on those OSs, including remote printing and file transfer. And if you tote a Pocket PC, you can use a specialized GoToMyPC client to access your system, though you should expect to do a bit of scrolling. MyWebEx PC does not work with Pocket PCs.