What?

The Windows Phone PC Controller project allows you to control any desktop or media PC using your Windows Phone as input device. Connect your phone to the PC using your Wi-Fi connection with a single tap, and all the touch input, gestures and even accelerometer data (if you like) are transmitted and translated into mouse actions. You also can enter text on the phone that is converted to keyboard input on the PC - couch surfing never was easier!

Where?

To make this work, you need first need to get two pieces:

  1. the PC Controller desktop application
  2. the app that runs on your phone

The Windows Phone PC Controller desktop application can be downloaded from this page. It comes as a convenient installer. Download, run and follow the simple instructions to automatically install it on the computer you want to control.

Windows Phone PC Controller 1.0 (MSI package, ~640 KBytes)
(Windows 7 32/64-bit)

The phone application is named PAARC ("Phone as a Remote Controller") and can be downloaded and installed from the Marketplace, directly on your phone, or using the web link here:

PAARC in the Marketplace
(Requires a Windows Phone 7.5 "Mango" compatible device)

How?

Simply start the desktop application on your PC. No need to change anything, the default configuration settings should be a great start. The application now sits and waits for incoming phone connections. You can even minimize it to the system tray to get it out of your way, and simply leave it running all day long.

Now start the phone application and hit the Auto-Connect button. Your phone should connect to your PC, and you can use the touch input to control your desktop! In case the automatic connection fails, you can enter the IP address of your PC manually. This address is shown in the PC application for your convenience.

TODO: add a full-blown tutorial/walkthrough using screenshots

But...

Is it safe?

Both the Windows Phone application (PAARC) and the PC Controller application are open source, which means everybody can download and take a look at the code to make sure there are no hidden features or malicious parts. I have nothing to hide, and did my best to make sure your computer isn't eaten by bersek pandas when you use the software; however, all of this comes "as-is", without warranty of any kind. So don't come back crying when you accidentally deleted all your porn family pictures using it.

Will this allow others to control my PC?

Controlling a computer with this application requires that you can see the content of a connected monitor. No desktop content is transmitted or exposed over the network, which makes it really hard to misuse it. Additionally, connecting your phone to a computer in that way requires that this computer is on the same network as the phone, or that the computer is exposed to the public internet, which typically is not the case when you're using a router or similar. So no; unless a hacker can see your monitor content and can connect to your network or computer over the internet, this can not be used by others to remotely control your PC.

Why is this free? Where's the catch?

I personally wanted to have such an application to make it easier for me to control a media PC and browse the web from the couch. The remote keyboard and mouse I had for that sucked and simply were too clumsy to use. Because I'm a developer it was only a logical consequence that I start writing my own application for this (there aren't any others), and I then soon realized that it would be cool for others to have this too, so I made it available publicly. I have no commercial interest with this, which is why it is free.

Will this cause traffic that counts towards my mobile plan?

Again, this software comes without any warranty; however, I've configured the built-in networking interfaces of the phone to only connect to your PC when there is a Wi-Fi connection. This means that if your phone is using a cellular connection (either accidentally or for example because you have forgotten to turn on the Wi-Fi connection on your phone etc.), it simply will not connect to the PC, thus avoiding that any traffic is generated which counts towards your mobile plan.

Are there any limitations?

Yes. At the moment, input cannot be relayed to UAC dialogs on the secure desktop. If you're using Windows Vista or 7 and initiate an action that requires a user confirmation through an UAC dialog, you cannot interact with this dialog using PAARC or the PC Controller software. Ways around that are to disable switching to the secure desktop (I do not recommend switching off UAC!). This will be investigated for a future version of this software.

More?

Is there more to it, you ask? Well of course there is. The Windows Phone PC Controller application is actually a showcase of a free open source library that evolved from it. As a developer, you can use this library to connect your phone to any of your .NET desktop applications you want, and to let your customers use their phones to interact with those applications in any way you can imagine. If you are not familiar with Windows Phone programming, you can use the reference client that is in the Marketplace without any limitations for your own purposes. Of course it's also possible to seamlessly integrate the client components into your own or already existing Windows Phone applications too.

For more information on all this, please visit the open source project site on Codeplex, which has a lot of documentation, instructional videos, samples, and the source code for all this (including the full Windows Phone PC Controller application!) - for free:

http://paarc.codeplex.com/

Who?

My name is Peter Kuhn, I'm a developer, trainer and consultant for .NET, Silverlight and Windows Phone. You can find more details in my blog on this profile page.