I’m not really sure what the collective noun for releases is so I’m using glut Anyhow, I seem to have done nothing but update stuff in the last 24 hours. First FireFox and Thunderbird from Mozilla, then an Airport patch and an OS X security update from Apple, then a new Mac RDP client from Microsoft, and finally, an updated version of JellyfiSSH. Apart from the last two these are all security updates. I don’t have much I want to say about the security updates but I do just want to mention two important fixes which seem to be included. Firstly, there is a patch for mDNSResponder which should plug the hole which the rumoured Mac worm which was never released supposedly used. Secondly, there are a few patches for SAMBA so it looks like the SAMBA flaws I recently gave off to Apple for not patching promptly have finally been patched. Mind you, the descriptions on the Apple site are none too clear so I’m not really certain these updates really fix either of these holes. Anyhow, the real reason for this post is to have a look at the new RDP client from MS and the update to JellyfiSSH.
MS RDP Client for Mac 2.0 (Beta)
It’s interesting that this new client is still tagged as a beta. Mind you, I’ve already had a few glitches today so maybe that’s warranted. The first thing you’ll notice is that the GUI is a bit more polished. They’ve paid particular attention to the preferences window which is now very nice. MS obviously think this new GUI is a master stroke because they describe it thus:
Provides a true Mac experience and improved usability
I disagree with them. In fact I disagree a lot. This app is still well below par as Mac apps go. MS could really do with having at look at Chicken of the VNC before they try again. The MS client lets you save settings to a file, but it doesn’t let you pick connections from a list. Instead you have to type in the machine name or open the file from a regular file picker. This is needless time wasting. It also only lets you save ONE set of authentication credentials (user name, password & domain) to be used for ALL connections. Obviously MS think people will only use this tool within a domain. Mind you, the password saving doesn’t work for me.
MS also very proudly point out that you can now connect to multiple machines at the same time. Great. Well, it would be if you didn’t have to jump through so many hoops. Once you are connected to a server you can ONLY open another connection from a saved file, you can’t just start a new connection. To do that you first have to disconnect from all servers and make a first connection, save it, and then reconnect to the saved servers you want to connect to. This is pure insanity. Would it really be so hard to let us get back to the regular starting screen (as poor as it is) when we already have a connection open? This kind of BS makes a mockery of their claim that this app offers a proper Mac user experience. It doesn’t. It offers the worst aspects of the MS user experience! However, it does have one cool new feature, the name of the machine(s) you are connected to get added into the dock icon in little text bubbles. Very cute and perhaps even useful.
Having said all that, this new version is still an improvement. If MS are serious about this app there are three very simple changes which they need to make ASAP:
- A normal and simple Bookmark system like Chicken of the VNC or Transmit or any decent Mac app uses.
- Each bookmark should allow a different authentication details to be set so you can quickly connect to many machines as many different users in many different domains.
- It should be possible to just go to File and then New to start a second, third, fourth, fifth ….. connection
You can get the new version here.
From what I can tell this is mainly a cosmetic update, and even then the changes are minor. The GUI has been subtly tweaked, nothing too dramatic. The biggest change is that addition of a button to connect to a whole group of servers in one go. This won’t be of any use to me but it may be to others. I’ve had a look around and I really can’t find any other changes of note. The release notes imply the interface for creating tunnels has been improved but I can’t see any difference. So, other that the ability to launch multiple connections with a single click and the minor cosmetic changes, this just appears to be a bug-fix release. Mind you, the download is tiny and it’s a drag and drop install so you may as well take the 30 seconds or so you’ll need and install this updated version.