Spoon.net is still going strong, and their take on app. virt. is different enough to be interesting

It's been about four years and a name change (it used to be called Xenocode) since I last spoke to Kenji Obata, Spoon's CEO, and I recently caught up to him to find out about what's going on with their application virtualization product.

I’ve been having some great calls lately with vendors that have been relatively quiet, and Spoon is the most recent company to join that list. It’s been about four years and a name change (it used to be called Xenocode) since I last spoke to Kenji Obata, Spoon’s CEO, and I recently caught up to him to find out about what’s going on with their application virtualization product.

Spoon’s product is built on streamed, application-specific virtual machines. These VMs are executed via the Spoon client side components, which captures deltas and sends them back to the server to preserve state. You can deliver applications as executable packages or via a web interface. The VM itself contains only the application, so it leverages the underlying instance of Windows, and if you deliver a package it includes the VM and the bits necessary to execute it. The web interface requires a browser plugin that downloads/executes applications delivered via a web interface, which is probably the thing most people are familiar with.

As Kenji put it, they are selling to people that actually care about their applications. In today’s era, that number of people is growing, although I think that people that care about their apps are, more often than not, choosing something other than Windows apps. I’m not sure how long the so-called “prosumer" audience will be a viable target demographic for them, but there’s always a straight up enterprise angle, too.  

To some enterprises, app virtualization might be six of one, a half dozen of the other. Can I package the app? Great. Can I deploy it through one of several methods? Awesome. Sign me up. In fact, it typically comes down to which app virt solution works with the most applications in a company, or which one addresses a very specific need. On that front, Spoon can address most of the compatibility issues inherent to Windows XP apps running in Windows 7 or 8, including IE 6 and Java. Many of the issues people have are with lack of UAC support, but since the Spoon client side component handles the UAC, apps that don’t support it run just fine inside the Spoon VM. At the very least, it gives you one more tool to get yourself off of Windows XP.

The isolation provided by the VM is configurable through an admin app called Spoon Studio. Studio allows you to control what level of interaction is allowed to/from the application down to system services, folders, the clipboard, and so on. Studio is also where you do your packaging and provisioning. From there you can also set up a team portal collaboration feature, whereby users can distribute apps and data to other team members. This is most helpful if you choose to deploy a web-based desktop to your users, although you still need Windows so I’m not sure how much better this would be than whatever it is you currently have (ShareFile, Horizon Data, Dropbox, Box, etc...).

This week, Spoon is refreshing the Spoon Studio product, adding support for Windows 8.1 and introducing a free version called Studio Express. The only limitation of Studio Express is that you can only deploy applications through Spoon.net. Publishing to Spoon.net builds awareness of Spoon as a product, but doesn’t give you the control and overall user experience that deploying the enterprise version would. Still, it’s a great way to check it out for yourself.

We’ll see what the future holds for Spoon in the next year or so. They feel they most closely compete with ThinApp, which would have been an advantage for them had VMware not decided to "de-EOL" the standalone version earlier this year. That said, Spoon is still an interesting take on application virtualization, and there is lots of room for solutions that aren’t named ThinApp or App-V in the market, especially if it aids in migrations and works well for non-enterprise desktops.

Have you used Spoon? What are your thoughts?

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The most broad use case I have seen is developers testing their apps in multiple browsers from spoon.net that IT won't provide as part of a standard build.

I have always liked the speed of their streaming over diverse networks. Just works.

IMO, mindshare and clearly articulating use cases to get traction vs. incumbents has always been suboptimal.


Harry, agreed on our publicity -- we've been heads down R&D the last couple years building our technology stack, which is now a much bigger story than just app virt. Definitely something that will change as we unveil the goodies in 2014.

And glad our transport stuff works so well for you, it is pretty awesome ;)