New startup called "Desk" solves user personalization, offline, and user-installed apps challenges!

pDesk just emerged from stealth mode that hopes to shake up the desktop virtualization industry.

[NOTE: In case it's not obvious from the comments, this article was an April Fool's joke. The "p" in "pDesk" is for "physical." So this whole article, which talks about all these great advantages of a "pDesktop," is just describing the great advantages of traditional physical desktops that we don't get in the virtual desktop world today. More information is here.]

I just got back from a dinner with the folks at pDesk, a startup that just emerged from stealth mode that hopes to shake up the desktop virtualization industry. Their technology seems pretty amazing and appears to solve some of the biggest desktop virtualization challenges that we face today!

pDesk's main product is called "pDesktop," a software product that allows a desktop or laptop to execute a Windows isntance locally, overcoming the obstacles that plague both TS-based and VDI-based server-based computing environments today. A pDesktop client (or simply a "pDesktop") can be used offline by caching the entire Windows OS stack to the local device. (This cache can be a traditional hard drive or one of the newer SSD devices.) There are a number of ways to get the pDesktop image down to the local cache, but the most common is to do a one-time streaming "pre-cache" from an internal storage cloud.

One of the biggest problems with desktop virtualization today is that to fully realize the cost savings and get a good ROI, you have to get to the point where you have a single disk image that's shared by multiple users. The problem here is that Windows was never really designed for this, so user-installed apps and user personalization are tricky. pDesk gets around this in a somewhat ingeneous way by simply not using a single master disk image--brilliant! By removing the shackles of the single image, pDesktop users are able to install any application that the want, and pDesk guarantees full application compatibility. "If it runs on Windows, it runs on pDesk!"

User personalization is handled in a similar way. Each user's local OS image cache operates in full "read / write" mode, meaning that any changes a user makes throughout his or her session are written to the local cache and therefore available for them the next time they log in! And what about those situations where a user wants to use more than one device? In that case, the pDesk system will capture personality changes the user made throughout his or her session and write them up to an internal cloud server where they can "roam" with the user to any device the user logs into!

From a performance standpoint, the pDesk folks claim their solution offers "100% native hardware performance" and it works by "avoiding the performance 'hit' of a client hypervisor." They have a similar story for peripheral support, claiming to support more peripherals than any desktop virtualization solution on the market, including USB 3.0, isochronous USB, and eSATA.

And what about OS patching, like for security and anti-virus updates? Again, pDesk leverages the cloud for this, with users being able to select the level of "automatic-ness" they want to update their systems. (Notify only, notify and download, or full automatic install.) System administrators can even use the rich policy configuration options of the product to enforce specific settings.

The final area that's traditionally been a challenge for desktop virtualization vendors where pDesk shines is in the graphical performance of applications. They can support full Aero glass on Vista and (experimentally) Windows 7, and they can do so across multiple displays--regardless of each display's individual orientation. I saw a demo of this at dinner, and it was amazing. Full fidelity 1080p hi-def video and rich audio without ANY network bandwidth utilization. (Full diclosure: The source of the video was in their local "pCache". But still cool!)

The most amazing thing about pDesktop is that it's a client-based solution, so no additional servers to buy, no expensive datacenter storage, and no need for crazy network upgrades!

Pricing, licensing, and availability

pDesktop 6.0 (the first product released from pDesk) is available now in several editions:

  • pDesk Express Edition, free, base product only.
  • pDesk Advanced Edition, $100 per CCU, adds the "roaming" personality capability for up to two machines.
  • pDesk Enterprise Edition, $200 per CCU, all 'Advanced' features, plus increases the "roaming" personality to four machines.
  • pDesk Premier Edition, $900 per CCU, all 'Enterprise' features, plus increases "roaming" to unlimited number of machines, adds offline support, user personality support, user installed apps support, peripheral support, power state persistence support, cloud-based OS patching support, native performance support, laptop support, client hard disk and SSD-based caching support, domain support, full application compatibility support, full read/write local cache support, printing support, multiple display support, policy support, Aero glass support, internal cloud support, and user uninstallation support.

Maintenance is 20% per year and mandatory.

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April fools... the day is nearly over in my country.

And brian those lic costs are killer... i like the 900 per user one :-P


Amazing! (don't listen to the cynics Brian) As soon as the on-line ordering page comes up I'm in for 10,000 premier licenses (how can they do it for that price??). This is real innovation - Citrix and VMWare better be worried. I love the idea of giving users control over security; its going to make it much easier to manage. Do you think they'll enter the server un-virtualizaion market too?


Hmmm looks like Luflogix emerged from bankrupcy and re-org'd under pDesktop.  Brilliant move! ;)



I gotta give props to Gabe and Brian for putting some though and effort into it.



That was good.  Well done :)


Interesting read, but not a good April fool.


This sounds like Moka5 plus a few features that you would like to see, or is that the big joke you pull us on after the interview?