Windows 8 to showcase 'desktop as a service'?

Windows 8 to showcase 'desktop as a service'?

Summary: Since April, it's been quiet on the Windows 8 leak front. But here's a new tidbit to keep the "what's next for Windows" faithful going for a bit longer.


Since April, it's been quiet on the Windows 8 leak front. But here's a new tidbit to keep the "what's next for Windows" faithful going for a bit longer.

Blogger Charon at unearthed a slide presentation from a Microsoft architectural summit held in London in early April of this year that focuses on virtualization futures. (As Microsoft watchers may recall, new virtualization capabilities are expected by many to be part of Windows 8 when it ships around 2012 or so.) There's only one slide in the deck that explicitly calls out the 2012+ "Windows Next." But the deck still gives some general sense of what the Softies are thinking on the Windows client virtualization front.

The Microsoft solution architect presentation, entitled "Desktop as a Service," describes some of the customer pain points associated with Windows today. From notes that are part of the slide deck:

Customers today "see application compatibility issues, they see DLL hell, they see an inability to manage efficiently, they see high costs associated with maintenance and upgrades, they see a relatively short lifespan.....This cannot continue. Customers are increasingly refusing to let this continue."

What could alleviate these problems in a single bound? Virtualization technology! Or -- to reflect the deck's messaging more accurately -- a panoply of virtualization technologies.

Microsoft already offers a number of virtualization technologies -- Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI); application virtualization (App-V, MED-V, Remote Apps, Terminal Server), OS virtualiztion (Remote Desktop, Terminal Services, VDI); data virtualization (folder redirection and synch); hardware virtualization (Hyper-V), plus various System Center management offerings. While many are touting VDI as the holy grail, VDI is not the same as desktop as a service (DaaS), according to the Softies, and DaaS is more than just VDI.

Here's a slide that shows how Microsoft is thinking about the next-gen virtual desktop:

In the brave, new DaaS world, "the desktop should not be associated with the device. (T)he desktop can be thought of as a portal which surfaces the users apps, data, user state and authorisation and access," according to the slides.

DaaS means applications and data are centrally managed, as are the deployment of these apps and data. Apps and data are "treated as cached entities and synchronized with an appstore and "user state store," the slide deck explained. (Aha! Another mention of the infamous Windows 8 app store concept.) The operating system also is cached and synched with the appstore in this new model. Hardware failure becomes a non-issue (at least in theory) for users, and more reliable maintenance of applications and the operating system become possible, according to the slides.

More and more of the desktop will be virtualizable, as this slide (with the Windows Next mention) shows:

With Windows 7, Microsoft is able to provide virtualization of a user's data, settings and applications (by using App-V). With "Windows Next" and beyond, Microsoft will be adding the ability to virtualize the operating system, as well, by providing native virtual hard disk (VHD) capabilities in/with Win 8, according to the slide.

As I noted when Windows 8 slides leaked earlier this year, any/all of these concepts and plans could be shelved by the time Microsoft starts delivering the first public test builds of Windows 8 (some time in 2011). But it's still interesting to see the thought process behind the next Windows release -- and how/if it eventually will map to reality.

I'm wondering what the DaaS concept will mean not just to businesses, but also consumers. Would Microsoft be the one providing OS virtualization, via its own centralized datacenters -- the way it is currently providing hosted applications via BPOS/Office 365?

Other thoughts/interpretations of what Microsoft might be planning on the virtualization/cloud front with Windows 8?

Topics: Operating Systems, CXO, Cloud, Hardware, Microsoft, Software, Storage, Virtualization, Windows


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Thin Clients

    I remember using a sun thin client box in 1995. Is this essentially the same concept repacked by Microsoft.
    • RE: Windows 8 to showcase 'desktop as a service'?

      @mjaus01 The shelf-life of a concept is 10 years according to Microsoft....

      So this is innovation now.
      • RE: Windows 8 to showcase 'desktop as a service'?

        @cyberslammer2 We get it - you hate Microsoft. Now try adding to the discussion.
      • You hit the nail ON THE HEAD cyberzodder2!!!

        M$ NEVER innovates, everything they do is an EPIC FAIL -

        Kinect - only 1 million units sold since the 4th = EPIC FAIL
        Win 7 phone - SOLD OUT = EPIC FAIL
        Windows 7 - EPIC FAIL
        Xbox = EPIC FAIL
        Windows Server = EPIC FAIL
        Zune = EPIC FAIL
        M$Office = EPIC FAIL

        I'm with you - M$ will be gone by the end of 2011 (if not sooner)!!!
        Ron Bergundy
      • RE: Windows 8 to showcase 'desktop as a service'?

        @cyberspammer <-- epic failure.

        Whether your post was intended to be sarcastic or you believe what you wrote, the post was an epic failure.
      • RE: Windows 8 to showcase 'desktop as a service'?

        @Djblois We get it - you blindly love Microsoft. Now try adding to the discussion.
        ahh so
      • RE: Windows 8 to showcase 'desktop as a service'?

        @cyberslammer2 Windows 7 as a fail? Sorry, I just don't follow that. We can debate the merits of the other items you...mention...but Win7 is as unfail as it gets.
    • RE: Windows 8 to showcase 'desktop as a service'?

      @mjaus01 - There's nothing new under the "Sun" (sorry for the pun) - I worked on mainframe virtual machines in the '70s too.
      • RE: Windows 8 to showcase 'desktop as a service'?


        Yes but companies are not deploying mainframes to run desktop software. Based on what Mary Jo wrote, the various features would be very useful to most businesses.

    • RE: Windows 8 to showcase 'desktop as a service'?

      @mjaus01 <br>The biggest problem for anyone contemplating W8 is the sure knowledge that every second version of Windows is a dud. History has shown this to be true. So, do you risk potentially buying a W8 dud or wait for W9?

      As well M$ has a long history of promising high and delivering low. I'd take anything the M$ is saying about W8 with a grain of salt.
    • RE: Windows 8 to showcase 'desktop as a service'?

      If you speak any German "DaaS concept" is actually somewhat amusing. Reminds me of Das Blinkenlichten and the warm feeling one gets in a server room...
  • Sounds like...

    Citrix XenClient or perhaps a Microsoft spun version of similar tech. The hardware is entirely virtual (Intel vPro only right now) and the running OS can be synched back and forth with a "Synchronization" server. You can quite literally have a near-real-time backup of an entire "local" OS on a remote server. Its really quite amazing in action. I've got some vPro laptops setup with it at work and, honestly, I'm impressed enough I'd consider it on all of the laptops. Replacing a laptop is beyond trivial in that situation and can even be done remotely by the end user with a simple instruction sheet. Best part is that XenClient costs $0 and is basically just a rebuild of CentOS. Goes on the physical box using a CD or thumb drive and you can load the OS from CD or from the Synchronizer service.
    • RE: Windows 8 to showcase 'desktop as a service'?

      @cabdriverjim - Please. You got it setup already? Microsoft shill....easy call.

      You lose!
      The Danger is Microsoft
  • RE: Windows 8 to showcase 'desktop as a service'?

    I am wondering, with all the virtualization of our desktop,, who is responsible for security, and what will the holder of our apps do with it? I know, maybe I am just paranoid?
    • RE: Windows 8 to showcase 'desktop as a service'?

      @Rikaroo - Not at all. Microsoft is trying to not only command 'leasing' their OS they want to 'own' your hardware too!

      The Danger is Real! The danger is Microsoft!
      The Danger is Microsoft
      • RE: Windows 8 to showcase 'desktop as a service'?

        @The Danger is Microsoft

        Shut up, you blithering idiot.
        Hallowed are the Ori
    • RE: Windows 8 to showcase 'desktop as a service'?

      @Rikaroo Glad someone else came away from that article with the same thing in mind. With the obscene rush to outsou---erm move everything to the cloud, not enough people (imo) are even aware of the privacy and security concerns that arise as a result. Also take a moment to imagine if these were hosted on Microsoft servers the burden you'd be placing on the vast series of tubes we all call home.
    • RE: Windows 8 to showcase 'desktop as a service'?

      @Rikaroo Good question. I guess in the long run; it'd be up to the end user to take total accountability for what happens to their systems.

      But if the software and the operating system itself is virtual; then wouldn't a virus run through the cloud and not the system itself? It'd be easily neutralized..
  • Cost?

    Microsoft has had desktop virtualization available for several years no. It hasn't gone anywhere and it won't unless the pricing structure changes. It should be considered a built-in feature of the OS and not an add-on that is only available to you if you license the whole MS catalog.
    • RE: Windows 8 to showcase 'desktop as a service'?

      @curph - except that Windows 7 Enterprise ships with the ability to run Windows XP virtualized.

      Oh ... and except for the fact that you can freely download VirtualPC if you want.

      Oh ... and except for the fact that enterprises around the world are enjoying the HUGE benefits of App-V.

      Nice try.