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NComputing Offers Virtual Desktop Images For Windows PCs

Company promises VDI for Apple's iOS and Google Android mobile devices next.

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Despite all the buzz about the "consumerization" of IT and the proliferation of iPads and Android tablets in the workplace, there is still a huge installed base of plain old personal computers in the office running Microsoft Windows XP or Windows 7.

NComputing, a provider of virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) to mid-size businesses and education, has introduced vSpace Client for Windows, which turns desktop PCs into thin clients to run applications delivered from a central server. Although this version of vSpace runs only on Windows machines, the company said plans to deliver VDI to Apple iOS and Google Android mobile devices are in the works.

NComputing has delivered apps to thin client devices using VDI for some time; however, a recent survey of its customers revealed that it could grow the number of seats in customer environments by 40% by also supporting Windows PCs, said Jay Mellman, VP of global marketing at NComputing. Though customers have been adopting VDI for thin-client end points, they still have Windows PCs whose software has to be updated and constantly managed, often by a small IT staff.

"They say, 'I've got all these Windows devices, but wouldn't it be nice if I could ... have these PCs participate in a desktop virtualization world as well?'" Mellman said.

[ Execs dream of virtualization. Virtualization Tops CIO Priorities In 2012: IDC. ]

The vSpace Client for Windows is based in a server that can provide a virtual image to up to 100 end-point devices. But it isn't a server in the sense of being a rack or blade server used in a data center, said Mike Pagani, senior director of product marketing at NComputing. It can be just another desktop computer on which the vSpace Client would run as another software application. That adds even more management simplicity to the system for NComputing's base of small offices, branch offices, and classrooms.

"That can be a very powerful model in the right business case," Pagani said.

The vSpace solution can also make for an easy migration from Windows XP to Windows 7. Moving to the latest operating system is a snap for consumers who need a new desktop or laptop anyway, but for businesses with scores or hundreds of machines, it's a lot more costly and complex. With vSpace, Windows 7 can be delivered virtually to end-point devices running Windows XP natively, said Pagani. The virtual image also can be just a select number of Windows 7 applications based on what the company thinks workers need to use.

Pagani made a point of saying that vSpace Client for Windows is just "phase one" of NComputing's rollout, acknowledging that support only for Windows doesn't serve workers who want to use Apple iPads and iPhones or Android smartphones and tablets at the office.

"It's in the plans for Android and iOS, so that is coming," Pagani said, although he didn't specify when that support would be offered.

Pricing for vSpace Client for Windows starts at a one-time payment of $499 for a license for up to five concurrent users. That means that if an office has 10 end-point devices, only five people can be on the server at any one time. NComputing also offers a $949 license for up to 10 concurrent users and a $2,199 license for up to 25 concurrent users.

There are solutions on the market that can deliver Windows to Apple and Android devices, such as San Francisco-based OnLive, but that's not the same thing as turning a Windows PC into a virtual desktop end point. And Citrix offers Windows 7 as a virtual image to ease the migration from Windows XP http://www.citrix.com/English/ps2/products/subfeature.asp?contentID=2300410 , but Citrix is more of an enterprise product.

Because NComputing primarily serves mid-market and education customers, Mellman admits the company isn't as well-known as Citrix and VMware. However, NComputing recently partnered with Citrix to deliver some of its technology to Citrix's enterprise customers.

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