Amazon now renting cloudy desktops for $0.22 an hour

Workspaces can now be scheduled to shut down and are cheap for half-time workers

Amazon Web Services' “Workspaces” desktop-as-a-service offering can now be paid for by the hour.

Workspaces are a cut of Windows Server 2008 with a Windows 7 skin and are consumed with a custom client application. Until today, the service was sold by the month for a fixed price that included storage.

That's now called the “Always On” mode. There's now also a new “AutoStop” mode in which desktops shut down after you disconnect for a certain amount of time. AWS promises that desktops will emerge from AutoStop in 90 seconds, complete with all data.

Amazon has previously promoted Workspaces as a fine way to deliver desktops to temporary workers. Now it's suggesting you might spin one up for a few hours for a training course or when travelling.

The Register imagines some businesses will now wonder if they can schedule a few hours' use each day for some workers. If they do, our most recent review of Workspaces suggests users will be neither delighted nor disturbed by the experience.

With flexibility comes cost: a basic Workspaces image Value offers one virtual CPU, two gig of memory and 10 gig of users storage for US$25 a month. The first time you switch on an AutoStop Workspace in any given month you'll be tolled $7.25, then a further $0.22 an hour until the end of the month. At that price you can run the desktop for 80 hours before hitting the $25 mark, making it a pricy option for anyone who works more than half-time.

Amazon's also increased the size of the root volume on Workspaces to 80GB per desktop. Which is nice, but won't see Workspaces compete well with Microsoft's recent decision to offer GPU-powered Azure instances for workstation-class applications.

The service still needs a device running Windows, Android, iOS, Amazon's own Fire or Chrome OS. There's still no Linux client, which seems an oversight as those considering Workspaces on a PC would surely like the chance to run them without having to worry about Windows licences.

But why grump about such things on the day that slightly slow and weird desktops became something that can be rented by the hour? Truly we live in an age of wonders. ®

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