Last year I wrote an article called 8 reasons why Windows 8 on a tablet won't fix our legacy Windows desktop apps problem. Reason #6 was "If it were easy to rewrite your Windows desktop application for touch, then you would have done it by now." This is an important concept that deserves its own article (mainly so I can point people back here in the future), so here it is today.
While it's well known that I believe VDI will never reach 100% penetration, and I don't believe VDI is "the" future of the enterprise desktop, it's important to remember that many of today's enterprise applications are still Windows desktop applications. (I don't like to call them "legacy" desktops apps since they're still here.)
And let's face it: it's 2014. Web / Java "run anywhere" frameworks have been around for fifteen years. iOS and Android apps have been around for six years. HTML5 has been around for 3 years. If rewriting your Windows desktop application for one of these "new" platforms were easy, you would have done it be now. The mere fact that you still have Windows desktop applications in 2014 means that you'll have them essentially forever.
Sure, at some point we'll want to deliver those Windows desktop applications to our users—wherever they may be—without wanting to deal the "gunk" of Windows on the client device. (Even for touch-based devices, we have solutions like Powwow that make desktop applications more usable from touch-based devices—all based on remoting technologies.) This is why I like the concept of remoting Windows apps which themselves run on Windows. Doing so means we don't have to rewrite our apps while still having the ability to connect to them instantly from anywhere.
So as I wrote over ten years ago (!) in my 2003 post, The Future of Citrix in a .NET World, for years we've used Windows remoting to "web-ify" Windows desktop applications. (I guess moving forward we can use Windows remoting to "SaaS-ify" or "cloud-ify" those apps. That's a fine solution for today, and it's a fine solution for moving forward.
At the end of the day, yeah, I would love it if all our Windows desktop applications were not actual Windows applications. But if it hasn't happened by now, it's probably never going to happen. That's fine. We can just throw them on a server, remote the UI, and move on to worrying about other things.