VMware WSX: The consumerization of desktop virtualization. It isn't AppBlast, but it is kind of cool

This week, there's been some buzz outside the enterprise desktop virtualization space about VMware WSX, which is a technology that delivers Windows desktops via HTML5 technologies.

This week, there's been some buzz outside the enterprise desktop virtualization space about VMware WSX, which is a technology that delivers Windows desktops via HTML5 technologies. What's interesting is that this bit of tech seems to be aimed squarely at consumers, appearing in Engadget by way of Wired, and in Wired by way of ArsTechnica (basically, Ars broke the news).

When I first saw it, I thought "Oh, ok. This is AppBlast," but it turns out it's not the applications-via-HTML5 technology that we say at VMworld last fall. The HTML5 aspect is the same, but the similarities end there. A blog post by WSX developer Christian Hammond confirms this while dipping into how WSX works and why they've developed it. What follows is a quick overview:

WSX is built around VMware Workstation, and has nothing to do with VMware View or server-class virtualization technology. It's actually included in the most recent tech preview of VMware Workstation for Linux. It installs as a web service on the workstation.

The focus appears to be on making WSX a web-based management interface that can also deliver the console (which hasn't been possible on many non-Windows devices). Users can use WSX to manage VMs running on the machine where it is installed and, including (but with reduced functionality) shared VMs that became available in Workstation 8.

The "gee-whiz" feature that's being shown on the intertubes is Windows running in full screen on an iPad, including a screen shot of a YouTube video showing the trailer from The Avengers (which was partially filmed in my hometown, Cleveland!). There is no additional magic happening with this implementation of an HTML5 client, though. Audio still doesn't work, and you still need an endpoint with some decent horsepower to have a great experience, since the browser is rendering everything. For general, office-like desktop work, though, performance should be fine. This is experimental, so there are keyboard issues and only marginal support for Android. 

What's interesting to me about this is that anyone can use this with their own VMs, and by the time this is fully-baked, everyone will have access to it if they use VMware Workstation. I'm curious as to the legalities of this in terms of Microsoft licensing, since this is new ground. Any user could run Windows in a VM and access it remotely. Do you need VDA for that? Home users wouldn't have SA, but maybe the fact that the connection is being laundered through a web service and accessing the console of the VM is enough to avoid issues?

Either way - good for VMware (and Christian Hammond) for putting this together. I don't see much of an enterprise play right now (unlike AppBlast, which could fit well in the enterprise), but as a nerd, I like it. There could be a need for an enterprise HTML5 management solution someday, I guess.

 

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