Microsoft readies 'Mohoro' Windows desktop as a service

Microsoft readies 'Mohoro' Windows desktop as a service

Summary: Microsoft is believed to be building a Windows Azure-hosted desktop virtualization service that could be available on a pay-per-use basis.

TOPICS: Cloud, Windows

In yet another example of its growing emphasis on remaking itself as a devices and services company, Microsoft looks to be developing a pay-per-use "Windows desktop as a service" that will run on Windows Azure.


The desktop virtualization service, codenamed Mohoro, is in a very early development phase, from what I've heard from sources. I don't know the final launch target, but I wouldn't be surprised if it isn't until the second half of 2014.

Mohoro is a town located on the island of Grande Comore in the Comoros Islands in the Indian Ocean. Given that members of the Microsoft India Development Center may be playing a key role in Mohoro's development, according to my sources, the codename choice seems appropriate.

Microsoft owns the and Mohoro.Net domain names.

Mohoro, like another Windows service, Windows Intune, is a product of Microsoft's Server and Tools unit, I hear. Windows Intune is still not yet hosted on Windows Azure (as far as I know), but supposedly the plan is to move it to Azure at some point. Windows Intune already does make use of Windows Azure Active Directory as its directory and authentication service.

The same way that Windows Intune is the cloud complement to System Center, Mohoro seems to be the cloud version of Remote Desktop/Remote App. 

This is like "Remote App as a hosted service," said one of my contacts. It could be for companies who want thin clients or to run legacy apps on new PCs. Right now, companies have to have their own servers in the equation to do this, but "with Mohoro, you click a few buttons, deploy your apps, use Intune to push out configuration to all of your company's devices, and you're done," my contact added. 

Microsoft currently offers multiple ways for users to access their Windows desktops remotely via different virtualization technologies and products.

The aforementioned Remote App/Remote Desktop allows Windows users to connect to a remote Windows PC and access resources from it. On the Windows RT front, given that operating system's restrictions on use of almost any existing Win32 applications, Remote Desktop provides a way for users to continue to use apps they already have on new hardware like the Microsoft Surface RT. Licensing of Remote Desktop and Remote Desktop Services is complex, however, and requires access to server infrastructure on the back-end.

Currently, it is not possible under Microsoft's licensing terms to run Windows client in virtual machines hosted on Windows Azure. (The new Azure VMs do allow users to run Windows Server or Linux Server in the new Azure virtual machines.) 

It's also worth noting that Microsoft does not allow partners to provide delivery of a hosted version of Windows 7 as a client or to access Office as a service on Windows 7, as Microsoft officials made clear after squabbles last year with OnLive over its Desktop and Desktop Plus services.

I've asked Microsoft officials for comment on Mohoro. No word back so far. 

Update: A Microsoft spokesperson said the company would not comment on "rumors/speculation."

Topics: Cloud, 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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  • Interesting

    It won't be long until you are able to sit at a random computer, log into your Microsoft account, and your personal desktop appears.
    Jeff Kibuule
    • What about gaming?

      I'd love to rent time on a GPU accelerated virtual desktop... probably have to wait until broadband becomes obese-band.
      • It's called ...

        And, yes, latency can suck, but that's physics and the limitations of electrons for you ;)
        • RemoteFX

          which is part of Hyper-V already supports HW graphical acceleration, so it's very possible that you may be able to game through this platform

        • Failed

          Before launch.

          A for effort though.
          • Why?

            What is the basis of your opinion?
          • Here we go

            Anti-Microsoft crap again?
            Probably the same person who gave the flat screen computer monitor a failure before it came out.
    • Possible now

      Yes, it's already possible to logon to my desktop now from any devices. I'm using a software called ThinServer
      • Me too

        I use a tool called Remote Spark. It has Android, iOS, Blackberry and HTML 5 clients. So any browser which supports an HTML 5 canvas can be used to access a Windows desktop.
    • And it won't be long...

      ...until a hacker is able to sit at a random computer, log into your Microsoft account, and your personal desktop appears....
      PC Ferret
      • Or just contacts MS support that "you forgot your password"

        And they just give it out...
    • Until it doesn't

      Centralization, whether political or technological, is almost always a good idea in the short term, but a very bad idea in the long term. Can't wait to hear about the 10 million desktop users unable to access their desktops, apps, files, etc. while I work blissfully on my fully functional laptop.

      And, Jeff? You can pretty much do that now by running your VPC from a flash drive or using something like Tails, which also gives you much greater security. Being dependent on any third party is a dumb way to go. It's sad to see Microsoft marching to Larry Ellison's vision of world domination.
      • off the mark

        It's obviously not going to be for everyone, but many users of these types of services won't have much issue with it, and it'll be a very cheap and small footprint solution for at home use. If you aren't the target audience, you aren't a very good example of why it's a bad idea, are you?
      • Yet, Apple with over 100 million iPad customers, and Google, with

        many millions also and hoping to add many millions more via Chrombooks, are both already using remote services, via their cloud services, to break their customers away from a desktop and/or a laptop.

        So, why is MS the only villain in this argument?
    • The will probably extend the

      replacemtn lifetime of hardware even longer and the HP's, Dell and Lenova's won't be happy.
      • Screw em'

        Their crapware was part of the reason why people loathed Windows anyway and moved to Mac. I mean, it's preposterous I have to run a program called Decrapifier each time I buy a retail PC.
        Bob Tabor
  • I sell a desktop application . . . .

    How do I get users of these virtual desktop computers to have my application installed on the them when they boot up? Then, of course, I'm going to want a check from Microsoft every month based on how much usage of my app there was. MSFT can keep 20%.
    • I think (/guess) that the model is...

      That a user's Azure-hosted remote desktop is "his computer". Your app gets installed on it in whatever manner it would be installed on a physical machine (an actual install or a push via AD and group policy or whatever). You get license revenue from that virtual computer the same way you'd get it from a physical computer. My guess is that Microsoft doesn't get a cut (other than the license fees from the whole Azure/Windows/Magic setup).

      Now, if you are an ISV targeting this world, their may be an advantage for you to make your app install/work really well with whichever one of the alphabet soup of remoting/virtualization technologies it is based on.
    • re: I sell a desktop application . . . .

      That's not really Microsoft's problem. As a developer, you had to figure out a way to somehow tie the license to the hardware because otherwise people still can mount their own virtual machines on their own virtual server and be able to run multiple copies of your software anyway.

      How can they have your application installed? Well, they can provide a virtual disk image with the software already installed.
    • Of course you are also assuming MS will keep proper track of it.

      Knowing how sloppy they are about things means you can't really trust the numbers MS gives you about how much MS owes you...