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The Rise or Fall of the Virtual Desktop

Virtual desktop technology is nothing new; some companies have used it for a decade. Yet, after all this time, most people are still using desktop computers. Now, however, we’re hearing a rumor that Microsoft is going to launch a “cloud desktop” or PC virtualization tool, and VMware has expanded its offering with “anywhere workspace.” Are these moves going to ignite a new wave of virtual desktop, or are other developments quietly changing the game so much that the whole concept of virtual desktops may shift and undermine Microsoft and VMware initiatives?

Personal computers used to be a lot more expensive than they are now, especially when you factor in performance. But they remain as much a pain for IT as they’ve always been (I can remember listening in on a tech support call where the support tech was asking the user to feel the wires into the back of the system to see what kind of LAN they had.) Given this sort of scenario, it’s not surprising that companies worked out ways of “virtualizing” the desktop, meaning that a simple terminal-like interface could connect a user to a remote instance of a PC.

Improved broadband has gone a long way toward making virtual desktop performance acceptable, and vendors have worked hard to improve reliability and security too. There’s been increased interest in virtual desktops again, driven both by improvements like these in the technology and by work from home (WFH). This is probably what’s encouraging Microsoft’s “cloud PC” service, which would add virtual desktop support to Azure, and it’s certainly behind VMware’s anywhere workspace.

Image source: Steam

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