Windows 8 as Mobile VDI Client

One of my little projects for the Easter break has been playing with the Windows 8 consumer preview.  I installed in on my netbook, an HP Mini-311 which has an Atom CPU, 2GB RAM and a 128GB SSD.  This is my laptop for travelling light and fast but the netbook is pretty slow, with Windows 7 installed there is a lot of waiting.

I won’t go into Windows 8 too much, suffice to say that start-up time is awesome and I’m pretty impressed with Metro as a basic UI.  I’d like Metro to allow smaller non-live tiles, without touch I don’t need what are essentially large icons.

The problem I have is that most things I use aren’t Metro apps, so there is the jarring switch to the desktop when they are launched.  The switch is so jarring that it feels like moving to a different computer, much like moving to a VDI session.  So I’m testing the VMware View client from the Windows 8 netbook back to my Windows 7 pool in my datashed. Right now the View client runs in the Windows 8 legacy desktop mode rather than native metro. When VMware release a metro enabled client the experience could be very good.  Imagine having a live tile on the home screen that showed a miniaturised screen from the desktop, or better yet pushes notifications from the desktop into the tile.

It starts me thinking about what applications I want locally on the device and what applications I want in my VDI desktop.  The VDI desktop is always Internet connected and is a powerful machine.  The local device needs to operate disconnected and sync data.  In the end the main things I need when I don’t have an Internet connection is Evernote for writing and a document viewer for documents, synchronized with DropBox.  I’m not sure I need to have Office on my local device, complex document editing needs a powerful processor, lots of RAM and fast disk.  I’d be happy with a review and annotate application that syncs with my editing machine.  The main thing I’d do with the local machine is what my iPad does well, reading books and newspapers, watching movies and keeping up with social media.

For me the main thing that stops me from taking only my iPad when I travel is the inability to use an external mouse, particularly when I’m accessing a VDI desktop. Apple are happy to have a keyboard attached to an iPad bat a mouse is too PC like. If the new high definition iPad had mouse support then I would have stood in line all night when it was released.

Now I get where Microsoft is going with Windows on ARM (WoA). An iPad like portable device that is good for consuming media and viewing local copies but which allows me to connect to a remote full desktop for content creation tasks and enterprise applications.  All day battery life plus peripheral device support, lets hope the delivered devices match the promise. Will WoA devices have high resolution screens?  I hope so and I will be shocked if they don’t support external keyboards and mice.

Less that 24 hours after installing the Windows 8 preview I’m looking forward to the devices it will bring, colour me surprised

© 2012, Alastair. All rights reserved.

About Alastair

I am a professional geek, working in IT Infrastructure. Mostly I help to communicate and educate around the use of current technology and the direction of future technologies.
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