Microsoft's 'Mohoro' Windows-as-a-service released as a public preview

Microsoft's 'Mohoro' Windows-as-a-service released as a public preview

Summary: Microsoft is reworking its remote-app story with its new Azure Remote App service, available as a free public preview.


Microsoft is releasing its desktop-as-a-service, codenamd 'Mohoro," in public preview form as of today, May 12.


Mohoro -- known officially as Azure RemoteApp -- allows users to deliver Windows Server applications on a variety of devices. The accompanying remote desktop client apps will run on Windows, Mac OS X, iOS and/or Android.

Microsoft went public for the first time with its Mohoro plans during the kick-off keynote of its TechEd 2014 conference in Houston. My contacts told me about Mohoro in May 2013.

The final version of the Azure RemoteApp service will be available before the end of calendar 2014, Microsoft officials said. Microsoft isn't disclosing its pricing plans for the service at the current time, though the preview is free.

Company officials also are not confirming whether Windows Intune, Microsoft's device security/management service, will be a required component for delivering RemoteApp applications to customers, as my sources previously indicated might be the case.

Microsoft is hardly the first company to offer desktop-as-a-service. Citrix, VMware and Amazon all offer their own flavors. 

The new Azure RemoteApp service will allow users to run their own apps, like they can today using RemoteApp on Windows Server 2012. (Microsoft hosting partners already are allowed to deliver RemoteApp capabilities as part of Remote Desktop services on top of Windows Server. With the new Azure RemoteApp service, Microsoft itself will also now provide these same remote desktop services directly. Microsoft also is including an "app collection" with Office 2013 Professional Plus as an option for those testing the preview.

Mohoro takes its codename from a town on the island of Grand Comore in the Comoros Islands in the Indian Ocean. My sources said that Microsoft's India Development Center played a key role in developing Mohoro.

Update: During the TechEd keynote, Microsoft Corporate Vice President Brad Anderson said the Azure RemoteApp service is a rewrite of Microsoft's remote desktop services. It will allow users to remotely access line-of-business apps, including Office desktop apps, on their mobile devices, he said. This means Azure RemoteApp isn't like other desktop-as-a-service offerings (which typically stream apps); it's more of a remote-access service. Nonetheless, this is seen by some industry observers as Microsoft's play in the desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) space.

"Azure RemoteApp is a cloud-based option to RemoteApp on Windows Server today. It's a complementary solution as customers use the same RDP clients to connect," a Microsoft spokesperson added.

Topics: Cloud, Microsoft, Virtualization, Windows, Windows Server


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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  • And the movement to nickel and dime computer users marches on....

    I still cannot believe that we are all taking a page from a 1960's IBM sales handbook. Give it another 3-4 years and those old guys will positively look like amateurs when it comes to separating customers from their money.
  • Great For Windows RT

    Am I the only one that sees this as the perfect companion to Windows RT?

    I really hope they don't limit this to enterprise shops with tons of resources.

    Imagine opening up the Windows Store on your Surface 2 and seeing Photoshop and other desktop apps. There could be a little icon indicating "wifi required". Users could buy/rent the app for a period of time and once they tap it, it would instantly launch. No install required since it is streaming from the cloud!

    All the power of a full desktop rig, with the battery life of a Surface! It would be my ideal device.
    Paul Brambilla
    • Some of the most horrible ideas ever.

      "Users could buy/rent the app for a period of time and once they tap it, it would instantly launch. No install required since it is streaming from the cloud!"

      Ha ha ha!! So naïve.

      "Users could buy/rent the app for a period of time"

      No, no buy. Just rent is the final plan. They don't want you buying anything because if its good enough the way it is when you buy it for endless years to come, you wont give them more money for new versions every year.

      Its like so many people around here don't get why MS is all so gung ho about this. Think XP people.

      Suppose FORD quite a few years back came out with the FORD XP, the car that didn't rust or break down.. Sure, after 10 years or more, its not the most modern or secure car in the world, but for the millions around the world whos car has to be much like their taster for them, the most modern or safest dosnt matter as much as the one that's the cheapest because it lasts forever.

      Lets keep this straight. We are all to be the "slow boiling frog" and slowly but surely they all plan to wean us of paid for software and get us onto hardware that's incapable of storing anything so that we will be forced into renting everything from "THEM".

      We will rent our OS, our apps, our movies and songs, we will rent our games and every little thing we would have bought for ourselves in the past. And we will rent storage space for all the data we want to save, because not only will the large HD be pretty much dead, even the reasonable sized HD will be scaled down to only whats needed to work in the cloud system.

      Money money money. Every month. And I for one don't like any idea of just putting every single thing I have as data on someone elses server. No thanks. I'll pass on that thank you.
      • Finally, I'm not alone

        I can't tell you how disgusted I've been with people for the last 5 or so years concerning these software as a service BS options. I live in a world of Autodesk, some of the most over-priced software on the planet. Years ago they tried to convince customers that they didn't really want to buy the software, we just need to basically rent it. Our lives would be so much better. BS! Back then, everyone saw it for what it was...a free revenue stream enabling Autodesk to tighten it's grasp on an already monopolized segment. Everyone at that time flipped-out. Autodesk back-pedaled so fast it was almost comical. Now fast forward many years later we evidently lost anyone with half an ounce of brains and any common sense because Autodesk successfully convinced all of it's customer base that the same crap they were selling before is going to make they're lives easier. So now we have a company with an almost never ending revenue stream, you are financially punished if you don't stay on their subscription service, and there aren't any other companies out there that can compete against them to keep them honest and drive pricing down. Autodesk has it made. They can sit back and watch the millions of dollars flow in. IF you break the subscription contract, you get penalized and pay a much higher price for that same software when you can no longer hold-out and have to upgrade to the latest version. What is driving their R&D now? What is making them develop the best software they can because a competitor is barking on their heels? What onus from the customer is scaring them enough to always innovate new and useful ideas? NOTHING, THAT'S WHAT!
      • Does FORD still warranty a 10 year old car?

        I'm confused. If you have a problem with your 10 year old Ford, will they fix it for free? Of course not. I'm not sure why you'd expect MS to do the same...

        Anyway, the point I was trying to make was really about the technology not the business model. I personally think it would be cool AS AN OPTION to be able to stream apps that require tons of horsepower down to thin client type devices such as Windows RT. Sure, I could lug out a super expensive $1500 ultrabook to accomplish some things, but why do that when I can achieve the same result with a cheap Windows RT machine with all day battery life?

        Buy/Rent is a business decision. Like Office, the customer can choose which is the best of both worlds.
        Paul Brambilla
  • Bo-ring!!

    So gosh, Microsoft wants to get into the "RDP to a Terminal Services host" business at the wholesale level. Yawn.

    And as if we care what hat they pick code names out of. I guess that padded this PR puff-piece by a line or two though.

    More journalism! Less press release parroting!
    • re: Bo-ring!!

      Well Mr. Genius, if you find this boring why don't you illuminate us with your brilliance by writing your own article?
      • Clarification

        New label on the headset, new ringtone, new iPhone case or new color of some anime character would be really cool ;)
        The new cloud service where multiple teams worked for a year and cranked out millions lines of code is not cool.
  • Is This a Chromebook Killer

    Does this stop MS PC OEMs from defecting to the Chromebook model? Don't know, just asking.
    • Is that a concern? If you know, can you give us a breakdown in sales

      when it comes to total PCs vs Chromebooks, especially in regards to "MS PC OEMs" sales?

      My guess is that, the OEMs are just creating their respective Chromebooks entries, just in case, because, they don't want to be caught with their pants down, like what happened with the iPad, and the OEMs didn't have competing tablets for a few years, and Apple had the whole market to themselves for a few years. So, just in case Chromebooks happen to take off, they will already have their competing entries in place. But, that's just a gamble, and chances are that, Chromebooks will be as popular as netbooks for a little while, and people will start noticing that, they're actually paying a lot of money for what basically is just a browser dressed up in its Sunday suit.
      • The Real Challenge For Chromebooks...

        IMO -- the big win for a Chromebook is it's very inexpensive. I think that and that alone has garnered sales. What's interesting is a recent trip to Best Buy revealed the difference between the price of a Chromebook and a regular entry-level laptop is almost gone. If folks were buying Chromebooks because they were inexpensive, my question is are they still buying Chromebooks? If so, there must be something more compelling than price. If not, they are probably finished.

        What's odd is I never understood why Google create the Chromebook the way they created it. Why wasn't it an Android laptop that could run the million+ apps available for Android? I have seen tons of folks who buy a keyboard for their iPad and use it as a laptop when they need to do a lot of typing. IMO that proves Google could have done the same with Android in a laptop format.
    • re: Is This a Chromebook Killer

      Didn't know "Chromebooks" were still alive.. Still waiting to see one out in the wild..
      • Chromebooks are coming out

        ... on Helloween night. Dressed as zombies. err... they do not need to dress like zombies. They are just coming out.
    • No

      it makes the client irrelevant. You can still use desktop apps even on a Chromebook through this. Of course, you'll need to buy an additional RDP client licence for the Chromebook, whereas it is included in the price of a Windows client...
  • Was not clear...

    I understand RemoteApp, looks almost like Windows Terminal Service on prem with some connection layers added. Can you run a RDP session in Azure of a full Windows desktop? I
    Rann Xeroxx
    • You can set up a virtual machine in Azure

      and just run the normal remote desktop into it. That's been possible for a while now though.
  • underpromise, overdeliver

    I'm considering these announcements at the DELIVERABLES and the underpromising would have occurred last year. Since we barely heard about these new services, i'd say msft did a fantastic job underpromising.

    "Microsoft is hardly the first company to offer desktop-as-a-service. Citrix, VMware and Amazon all offer their own flavors. "

    But which of those services can offer MS Office?
  • Always thought this was a great idea...

    for RT devices. When you purchase a RT device getting the option to have an associated Azure server would be great. You could install any needed x86 apps on that Azure and use RemoteApp to start those applications within the confides of the Start Menu and wouldn't need the desktop. Each app would open in full screen/half screen mode and could live next to RT apps.