In an increasingly crowded marketplace for desktop remote control applications success can be hard to find. But not, it seems, for TeamViewer, which leads the field by virtue of continuous product development and innovation. New releases come along with almost monotonous regularity, the latest TeamViewer 9 implementation benefiting from both usability enhancements and the addition of a number of useful new features designed to keep TeamViewer well ahead of its rivals.

Headline Enhancements

A number of changes have been made to the user interface in TeamViewer 9 including enhanced touchscreen support to, for example, automatically display optimised buttons on touch compatible devices. Support for Windows 8.1 and OS X Mavericks is also added in this release plus you can now open remote session in tabs, much as you would when navigating multiple sites using tabs in a browser.

This last option not only reduces desktop clutter but also makes for simpler operation, with tabs lighting up should a session need your attention. Added to which TeamViewer tabs can be assigned to multiple monitors on a remote system rather than have to switch between displays from the one window or squeeze multiple displays together into the available space, again, making for easier navigation.

Another innovation is the ability to cut-and-paste (or drag-and-drop) files rather than use the file transfer dialog to move files between hosts. Not that big a change you might think, but an extremely useful one in practice making it possible to, for example, seamlessly attach a file from a remote host to an email being sent from the system controlling it, and vice versa. Plus you can now opt to transfer files to and from remote systems without having to first establish a remote control session at all.

Better Elsewhere

Beyond the headline-grabbing enhancements, users needing to connect to unattended systems will welcome the addition of support for Wake-on-LAN to automatically power clients systems that are switched off. However, this option does require either another host, such as a server, to be always on and available on the same network or changes to the network router to forward Wake-on-LAN packets to the appropriate machine.

Connecting to hosts is also made easier – simply drag-and-drop entries from the TeamViewer Computers & Contacts list onto the desktop and shortcuts will be created for one-click connectivity. Other new features worth mentioning include support for two-factor authentication to help beef up security, plus performance improvements when streaming video between connected hosts. Some minor enhancements have also been made to the Mac and Linux implementations to match features available in the main Windows version.

Commercial Options

As with previous releases, TeamViewer 9 is available free for personal use. Moreover, all of the core remote control and meeting functionality is available, the only caveat being a reminder when ending a session to play fair if using the software commercially.

There are then three commercial licenses to choose from, starting at £439 (ex. VAT) for TeamViewer Business, which licenses you for one host PC plus meetings with up to 15 participants. For larger organisations a TeamViewer Premium license (£889 ex. VAT) lets you run the product on unlimited systems and hold meetings of up to 25 participants, while a Corporate licence (£1,769 ex. VAT), adds the ability to host three concurrent client sessions plus 12 months priority support.

License extensions are also available as are upgrades from previous releases as you only get free upgrades for minor revisions (e.g. 8.0 to 8.1).

Commercial customers can also continue to manage their deployments from the Web-based and hosted TeamViewer management console. As of this release, however, they can now brand the modules that customers need to download by adding custom logos and text. Multiple modules can be created with different branding, added to which customised links can be defined to simplify the download process with the client automatically retrieving the latest version regardless of the branding applied.

Other enhancements to the management console include tools to better handle support calls with a service queue to manage cases identified by session code. Cases can be assigned to support staff to progress plus it’s now possible to manually create new session codes and pass them on to customers in the form of a link so that, instead of sharing the TeamViewer ID and password, they can join a session directly with just one click. Alternatively, a code will be created whenever a customer launches the custom TeamViewer QuickSupport module and a new case automatically added to the service queue.

Notifications of new cases, case assignments, contact requests and so on are now also made available through the desktop Computers & Contacts window. And, lastly, a new TeamViewer API has been developed to enable commercial customers to integrate TeamViewer functionality into existing CRM, helpdesk and other applications as well as develop custom applications of their own.

Worth The Upgrade?

There’s enough in TeamViewer 9 for new customers looking for a remote control application for the first time. Existing customers, however, are best advised to evaluate the new release before making any decisions as, much like other recent releases, it doesn’t deliver enough in terms of usability or extra functionality to make it a must-have upgrade.

Existing customers need to understand that, although TeamViewer 9 can be used to manage clients running previous implementations of the TeamViewer software, the reverse is not possible and to take advantage of all that the new release has to offer could mean having to upgrade all implementations. That said, TeamViewer 9 is very focused and functional. More than that, it remains one of the easiest desktop remote control applications to deploy, manage and use and is still the one the others have to beat.