Windows Server 2008 R2 has been wrapped in a Windows 7-like user interface by platform vendor ThinkGrid, to allow businesses to rent hosted virtual desktops that look like Windows 7, but without its licensing costs.
The desktops, introduced on Monday, include high-availability redundancy, antivirus protection and backup. No Microsoft licences or additional hardware are required, the London-based company said.
"We don't use Windows 7, we use Windows 2008 R2 and we've customised it quite heavily," Rob Lovell, ThinkGrid's chief executive, told ZDNet UK on Tuesday. The company's product is aimed at small and medium-sized businesses, he said.
To a business, the hosted desktops appear to be running on Windows 7, but the underlying operating system is Windows Server 2008 R2.
Customer data can be stored and balanced across ThinkGrid's nine datacentres, spread across the UK, US and Australia. Where data legislation calls for it, a company's data can be kept within UK borders with data stored and replicated across at least two local datacentres, Lovell said.
ThinkGrid snapshots each individual desktop on a daily basis and stores snapshots for as long as seven days, so the hosted desktops can be rolled back in case of a failure or a virus.
The company's major UK competitor is Nasstar.
With ThinkGrid, individual desktops are secured via private virtual LANs (PVLAN) built with technology from virtualisation specialist VMware. The technology allows desktops to be isolated from one another and for their network traffic to be separated as well.
The hosted desktops start at £1 per day.