I gave about 20 speeches about desktop virtualization in 2009, and one of the core tenants of those was that Windows 7 and desktop virtualization are sort of “codependent” on each other. I felt since most companies were still on Windows XP, there wasn’t really an incentive to go through the huge disruption and effort of desktop virtualization just to end up on Windows XP again (since that would have to be upgraded to Windows 7 at some point).
On the other side of that point, I believed that since moving to Windows 7 means having to deal with so much new stuff (new security, user profiles, application capability) the Win7 move essentially forces companies to redesign desktops from scratch. And redesigning from scratch means that it would be dumb not to re-think the way desktops are delivered.
In other words, Windows 7 is the perfect catalyst for desktop virtualization, and desktop virtualization is the perfect catalyst for Windows 7. Hence the “codependence,” and why last year I really thought there’d be a general correlation between the two in 2010.
But it’s 2010 now. Just about every company is well on its way to planning how they’re going to implement Windows 7. But very few companies are thinking about desktop virtualization in any holistic way. Sure, they’re thinking about it here and there where they really need it, but in terms of Windows 7 being a catalyst to major implementations of desktop virtualization, as BrianMadden.com user AppDetective wrote last week, “the Windows 7 train has already left the station.”
The products just aren’t good enough to replace the general purpose traditional desktop. As of now the only people using desktop virtualization are those who really need it. It’s all very tactical. Getting desktop virtualization to replace all desktops requires products that are so good that desktop virtualization becomes a “no brainer.” But we obviously aren’t even close yet, which is why people are moving forward with their Win7 plans sans virtualization.
And where have the big vendors been this year? What major breakthroughs have we seen in the past year? Sure, we’ve got steady improvements in user density and cost, but by-and-large the VDI of 2010 looks a lot like the VDI of 2009.
So the Windows 7 door of opportunity has closed. The ship has sailed. The opportunity has passed. That train is gone.
Maybe by the time the next big desktop refresh cycle comes around we’ll have our sh*t together. Until then, enjoy the tactical scraps.