I had an interesting thought regarding the use of VDI (hosted virtual desktops) as a way to enable a ‘Bring Your Own Device’ policy. Centrally hosted desktops, whether true VDI or session-based, can be a part of a mobile/ remote working strategy and can be a relatively easy way of getting existing Windows applications onto tablets without having to re-architect the application completely for native or HTML-5 mobile access. However, current Windows and applications are not really touch friendly, and the endless panning and scrolling etc required to use Windows 7 on an iPad or equivalent means that it is not really a viable solution for full-time working. I have long thought that VDI is perhaps a stepping stone (probably a ten-year stepping stone!) to having device-independent applications accessible from whatever device you choose.
What interested me though was the announcement of the next generation of Office – coupled with the imminent release of Windows 8. Both look to have the Metro interface (which I really rather like) and to be touch-enabled. The intention, obviously, from a Microsoft point of view is for all of this to work perfectly on a native-Windows 8 device, whether tablet, slate, traditional laptop or some entirely new form factor of which we can only dream.
However, if Windows and Office in the short term and most Windows 8 apps in the medium term are Metro – and touch – enabled, that just might change the game. If a centrally hosted desktop can present the touch interface, and this can be remoted to any device running an appropriate receiver or client, any touch device should be comfortably able to present and deliver a Metro/ touch experience. Therefore VDI becomes a far more usable proposition for delivering Windows apps to devices.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that if it works (time to get testing in the Softcat labs) this could drive significant uptake of VDI technology. All we need to fix now is the licensing. Oh, and if someone can magic up pervasive connectivity throughout the world that might help too…
Sam Routledge - Softcat Solutions Director