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GoToMyPC (finally) goes to your Mac

After nine years, Citrix blesses Apple fanbois

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

At long last, Citrix has squeezed out a version of its GoToMyPC remote access service that lets you both connect to a Mac from a distant PC and connect to a distant PC from a Mac.

GoToMyPC debuted on PCs nearly nine years ago, but this is the first time the service has provided Apple fanbois with remote access in both directions.

“With this new release, we’re giving Mac users what they’ve been asking for - a reliable remote access service built specifically for the Mac,” reads a canned statement from the general manager of Citrix Online, Brett Caine. Citrix Online is the Citrix subsidiary that offers GoToMyPC alongside similar services such as GoToMeeting and GoToAssist.

Citrix has also added a native viewer for accessing remote machines from a Mac desktop. In the past, if you tapped a remote system from a Mac, you were limited to a Java-based "universal viewer" that offers fewer tools than the full-fledged native viewer available on a PC.

But before you fanbois get too excited: There are still some tools unavailable with the Mac. When accessing a distant Mac, for instance, you can't do file transfers or file syncing or remote printing. Plus, GoToMyPC still lacks the ability to access remote machines from an iPhone or iPod touch, something you can already get from LogMein as well as PCNow, the remote control app from Cisco's WebEx subsidiary.

Speaking with The Reg, product manager Michelle Knab did not address the iPhone specifically. But she did say: "We are exploring a number of mobile options."

Once you install a small agent on your local desktop machine and register the system with GoToMyPC.com, you can then gain remote access from any web browser running on a Windows, Windows CE, Mac, Linux, Unix, or Solaris machine. Data is encrypted with 128-bit AES keys, and passwords are set both for your master GoToMyPC account and for each machine set up for remote access.

The service comes in three flavors: a personal version that starts at $19.95 per month for one remote computer; the professional version, which provides remote access for between two and 20 machines for $12.95 a month or between 21 and 50 machines for $10.95; and a corporate version that includes additional admin tools. Citrix does not publish prices for the corporate version but volume discounts are available, Knab said.

According to the market research types at IDC, GoToMyPC controlled 77 per cent the $148.4m remote access services software market in 2008, well head of LogMeIn's 18.3 per cent. But LogMeIn offers its base service for free. And over the past year, the company has seen great success with its iPhone app. According to chief executive Mike Simon, LogMeIn made more money during its first week in the iPhone app store than it expected to make all year. ®

Update: Due to an error on Citrix's website, this story originally said that GoToMyPC does not provide cut, copy, and paste when accessing a remote Mac. But cut, copy, and paste is available in such situations.

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