A little-known fact about Mac versions 10.4 (Tiger) and over, is that they come with a built-in VNC server. This feature is included in a couple of the “Sharing” options and can be accessed with a regular VNC viewer/client.
However, when connecting from a Windows machine (particularly when running TightVNC as the viewer), I found I had to configure a few extra settings to make it work without constant freezes on my Mac, forcing me to hard reset. Here are some of the tweaks I had to make to ensure I could connect without issues. I am running 10.7.5 (Lion), so your steps may vary slightly.
Firstly, you need to allow VNC connections. The two options are either Screen Sharing or Remote Management. Screen Sharing is what the “average” VNC user may need, while the latter is helpful if you need more permissions and control over the host machine.
You should now have a VNC server running on the standard port 5900 of your machine. You should (in theory) be able to connect to your Mac with any viewer using your machine’s IP address and the port. As I mentioned before, I had some issues connecting from Windows, and had to take a few precautions. I’m using TightVNC, so these changes may or may not be necessary on other viewers.
Following these steps should help ensure you can connect to your Mac from a Windows machine. Just enter
<host IP>:5900 as the Remote Host and enter the password from before to connect.
Of course, another option is to simply user a third-party VNC server, but if you don’t feel like installing more software, hopefully this should help in preventing a few headaches.