I have an iPad, so why do I need a virtual desktop?

Summary:Many iPad users question the need for a Windows virtual desktop when the iPad has everything necessary to work as a remote computer.

Why should Apple iPad users bind themselves to a Windows desktop, even if it's virtual? The short answer is, "They shouldn't." And, why should they--or we? The iPad has all of the necessary client software to connect to and to use most every business data that exists. It also has built-in VPN software to make secure connections back to the office from remote locations. Web-enabled apps make it pointless to care which device connects to them. I'm afraid that virtual desktops created for the sake of a consistent environment is redundant and uneccessary. As long as you can open documents, SharePoint sites, web sites and email, you're in business. Thanks a bunch but no thanks; virtual desktop not needed.

The iPad is the ultimate in ultraportable remote computing platform. The small form facto--but much much larger than phone screen--makes it perfect for remote computing. That said, you really couldn't type on the on screen keyboard for an extended period of time unless you're really into shrinking your available screen space by half.

For extended work, I suggest using the bluetooth keyboard. Apple's bluetooth keyboard is comfortable to type on and can be used for prolonged periods with no issues and no on screen keyboard blocking half of your view.

With the iPad in "full screen mode" and a bluetooth keyboard, you basically have yourself a laptop computer. So, why the pressure to use a Windows virtual desktop with an iPad?

Your guess is as good as mine on that topic. However, I have some ideas of the reasons from a corporate point-of-view:

  • Everyone uses Windows Virtual Desktops regardless of client OS or device.
  • We require that all data be accessed via Windows Desktops to avoid corruption.
  • We want to maintain a consistent desktop environment so that the Helpdesk isn't inundated with requests for multiple operating systems.
  • We don't care how you connect to the Windows Virtual Desktops--just that you do.

I understand all of the above reasons but I don't necessarily agree with them. You do have to comply with your corporate policies, so if your company requires that you connect to and use a Windows Virtual Desktop with your iPad, then you must do so. 

If you truly desire to protest, then don't bring your iPad to work. Take whatever hardware you're given from the company and use it. Happily enjoy yourself and your iPad off of the corporate grid. You can't say you didn't try.

I've written at least one article on using an iPad as a remote terminal for Linux systems. You can use the iPad as a remote terminal for Windows servers as well. But, the thought of connecting to another computer to create letters, use email, and open spreadsheets seems a little primitive to me--as in going the wrong direction with technology.

Sure, it's OK to do that with dumb terminals, smart terminals or even web-based systems but to totally deny that the iPad is a full-fledged computer that's capable of being a desktop system on it own is short-sighted at best. And, you probably don't want to know what I think of it at worst.

Talk back and tell me if you have to connect to a Windows Desktop with your iPad or if you're able to use it as a full desktop on its own.

Topics: iPad, Consumerization, iOS

About

Kenneth 'Ken' Hess is a full-time Windows and Linux system administrator with 20 years of experience with Mac, Linux, UNIX, and Windows systems in large multi-data center environments.

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