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

Microsoft is reworking its remote-app story with its new Azure Remote App service, available as a free public preview.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

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.

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