Microsoft originally allowed Android and iOS users to control desktop PCs from their smartphones last year, but Windows Phone support was missing. Starting today, Microsoft is rolling out a preview version of its Remote Desktop app to let Windows Phone users control their PCs on the go. The app is available for free from the Windows Phone Store, but the only catch is you’ll need to be running Windows Phone 8.1 to access and install it. Windows Phone 8.1 is due to start rolling out to existing devices in the coming weeks and months, but you can gain access to the update early using a developer preview option.

The Remote Desktop app for Windows Phone 8.1 is similar to the Android and iOS versions, allowing you to connect and control a Windows PC. Remote Desktop, as the name implies, uses the same Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) that Microsoft has used for years across its Windows desktop and server releases to connect to a PC. The app will support all Windows PCs that have Remote Desktop turned on, an optional that's configurable in Control Panel.

One of Microsoft's first universal Windows apps

It’s not ideal to use the Windows desktop from your phone, but this is largely designed for those who need quick access to their main PC on the go. Microsoft has built in options to scroll around a machine at its native resolution as well as an onscreen keyboard with buttons to trigger function, shift, ctrl, alt, esc, tab, and even the Windows key. The Remote Desktop app also appears to be one of Microsoft’s new universal Windows applications that run across both Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1. Microsoft is expected to deliver additional combined applications over the coming months.