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Death Of The Desktop?

A year ago my inbox vendor-clutter was all server, all the time, Now I get thirty new emails a week proclaiming some variation on the end of fat client computing. Should we all dump our MSFT shares and plan to run VMs off our iPhones in two years?
A year ago my inbox vendor-clutter was all server, all the time, Now I get thirty new emails a week proclaiming some variation on the end of fat client computing. Should we all dump our MSFT shares and plan to run VMs on our iPhones in two years?Just as I foresee a thriving, heterogeneous, multi-vendor server virt landscape over the next five or so years, I also expect a diverse, confusing, mixed-up smorgasbord of delivery mechanisms for user desktops and app suites over the next half-decade.

So how crazy am I? Will most folks still be running a local instance of XP in 2013? I'm betting they won't be running Vista or the next rev Windows in the same way we think of user computing today.

So - where should the smart money go?

Tuned apps for mobile devices? Perhaps thin clients for business seats and consumers, running subscription-based SaaS desktop accounts or portable VMs hosted from the Cloud? Growth of existing Citrix-style or terminal sessions? What about good 'ol' fat clients plus app streaming? Retro green-screen terms?

Will Apple keep growing market-share beyond any 2003 analyst's wildest prediction... say, a 10% installed base by '13?

Heck, I chatted up a Symantec exec earlier this year; they're looking at providing Virtual Security Appliances for end-user-based hypervisor platforms in the next year and a half. Think about that...

What would you say to a quad-core laptop with a VMware or Xen hypervisor hosting your user instance VM, an admin VM for your IT Ops folks and a VSA from Symantec or McAffee? That VSA would be tied to VMSafe or some open-source API spec, with visibility into the hypervisor and all intra-host activity. Malware infection detected? The VSA could flash a snapshot, then roll back to the last clean snapshot on file. Problem fixed. Your grandma could lease a VM'ed set-top box from the cable company for five bucks a month, management and support included.

For that matter, will our user desktop metaphor maintain any relevance come summer of 2013?

I can tell you a mess of folks (in Redmond and elsewhere) back in 2003 assumed Longhorn's success as a given. What other option would the world have aside from XP's successor? Using my inbox as a guide, there are many, many options hoping to step up now that the future is more... fluid.

I don't see a winner on the horizon; there will be no single XP replacement.

Let's plan for lots of winners, delivering wildly different solutions to satisfy wildly divergent needs.

What do you think?A year ago my inbox vendor-clutter was all server, all the time, Now I get thirty new emails a week proclaiming some variation on the end of fat client computing. Should we all dump our MSFT shares and plan to run VMs off our iPhones in two years?

Editor's Choice
Samuel Greengard, Contributing Reporter
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek
Carrie Pallardy, Contributing Reporter
John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author
Astrid Gobardhan, Data Privacy Officer, VFS Global
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing