Virtualization and the changing Windows desktop

Trends like virtualization and Software as a Service are changing the classic Windows desktop. This Special Report addresses the options that Windows managers might consider for desktop virtualization.

Desktop virtualization series
Virtual PCs and SaaS force IT to rethink Windows desktop
Microsoft's Windows and Office won't fall into the tar pits any time soon, but ideas like virtual desktops and SaaS are real threats to tradition.

Virtual desktops can clean house but move cautiously
There are lots of ways to virtualize a desktop, and vendors are stitching together individual products to make a complete story.

Who should use desktop virtualization or SaaS?
Who needs a virtual hosted desktop and who needs a fat client? Maybe a remotely provisioned service is best? It depends on each user's situation.

Why SaaS is not a desktop replacement
Desktop applications from Google and others are presented as Microsoft Office killers, but the analogy is imprecise.

 New ideas, new terms: Fast-moving technology is changing the way IT managers are thinking about the desktop. Here are some basic definitions to help you keep in step with the concepts surrounding virtualization:

  • Desktop virtualization – Also referred to as a virtual hosted desktop. There are several kinds. A user can run a virtualized operating system on a PC in a virtual machine. End users can also connect to a server to get a single remotely hosted desktop. A third method is commonly known as thin client architecture, where end users access a common desktop from a remote server.


  • Application virtualization – This is the process of encapsulating applications in a virtual container on the desktop operating system, isolating them from other applications on the OS instance.


  • Application streaming – Packaging and sending the application to the client, where it can then be executed locally even when the user is offline.


  • Software as a service – Services that are remotely hosted, served and provisioned.


  • Web 2.0 – Although the term can be construed as a marketing buzzword, it can also be thought of as an overarching term that refers to Web-based services and collaboration.


  • Office 2.0 – This is something of a subset to Web 2.0., except it's related to office-type applications such as word processing and spreadsheets done via teamwork.

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