When Windows 10 makes it to mobile devices, one of the more interesting features will be “Continuum”, a tool that will make it possible to plug a phone into a keyboard and monitor and use it as a PC.
You can already run a desktop OS on a mobile device, of course, through desktop virtualisation (VDI) software. But VDI tends to target a particular device.
Which is why a pair of VMware patent applications look to be noteworthy. One, Gesture based switching of virtual desktop clients, describes a process whereby one might swipe to send a virtual desktop from a mobile device to a desktop device. The idea is to make it easy and fast to move VDI sessions between client devices, which sounds a lot like an effort to make sure that VDI sessions on mobile devices can quickly and easily be shunted to another device.
Another patent application, Method and System for Providing a Roaming Remote Desktop, hints at providing some of the plumbing required to make the first patent happening by finding infrastructure that's usefully close to the user and running a virtual desktop session from that kit instead of traversing wider networks.
Are these patent applications a response to Continuum? The second one is recent, having been filed in June 2015. The first is more than a year old, but emerged into public view only last week. Perhaps that wasn't VMware's intention, but even so their emergence is timely.
Microsoft's clearly going to go hard with Windows Mobile and Continuum as a way to bring a desktop experience into more places at more times. Redmond's decision to can dedicated desktop certifications in favour of multi-device studies is but one sign of Microsoft's belief in the importance of devices in a Windows shop's world.
VMware and Citrix will need a good mobile story to ensure VDI remains a good option. VMware's patent applications offer a response of sorts to Continuum, and a nice mobile spin for VMware's end user computing ambitions. Virtzilla's efforts in the space are clearly taking some bark off arch-rival Citrix, although The Reg's virtualisation desk understands the real battle in the VDI arena is fought around greenfield sites or big PC fleet refreshes. Apparently companies contemplating a few thousand new PCs are more likely to go down the VDI route because its felt that there are savings to be had. If such companies are also contemplating mobility, VMware may have an interesting story to tell about VDI reaching well beyond the desktop … and back again as required. ®