There's a difference between "a desktop" and "The Desktop." In 2011, both are anachronisms.

If you take a desktop and separate the data, the user settings, and the applications... what do you have left?

If you take a desktop and separate the data, the user settings, and the applications... what do you have left?

If you have a way to deliver the data, the user settings, and the apps... do you even need a desktop?

What is a desktop?

This website about is desktop virtualization. But really the "desktop" part of "desktop virtualization" is just to separate it from "server virtualization" or "storage virtualization." What's interesting about "desktop virtualization" is that the desktop doesn't actually do anything. The desktop is just a logical container that holds links to apps, user settings, and maybe data.

In the traditional Windows world, The Desktop is just a euphemism for "the Windows OS and its related components." So traditional "desktop virtualization" has really been "Windows client OS virtualization" or "a way to provide users will access to their Windows OS." But moving forward, if we can deliver web apps as links, Windows apps as remote seamless Windows, and non-Windows apps as native iOS/WebOS/Blackberry/Android/RIA apps, then why exactly do we need The Desktop? If we can connect users to their data via Dropbox or Box or MobileMe, why do we need The Desktop?

So application virtualization and delivering apps to users is important. Data virtualization and making sure users have access to their data is important. User profile virtualization and making sure users can maintain their own settings across devices is important. But desktop virtualization? Delivering desktops? That's so 2005. In 2011 the desktop doesn't actually do anything.

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What about printers (yeah yeah cloud printing blar blar - still some way yet)?


What about other devices?


The OS isn't just a container... Its the glue for more than just data/apps/profiles.


I see what your saying and I agree (specially in a BYO scenario) but until we can completely decouple devices (and other things) from the "desktop" it's still relevant for lots of use cases and for some time yet.


To Add... I love seamless apps (use them and will continue to do so in moderation) but we have over 1000 desktop apps here and I'm buggered if I'm going to manage them all as separate seamless apps :) - full screen desktop is much easier.


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I'm currently working on Virtual Desktop (the market) in my Windows Desktop (the UI) deliver by a Virtual Desktop (the method) from a physical Desktop (the equipment)... Don't know which desktop you're talking about ;-)


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Great point @Daniel Bolton.  


I think "The Desktop" will slowly get phased out but not as early as 2011.  People are still using "The Desktop" at home and expect to have that same familiarity with any work "desktop" you give them.  


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It may have taken a lot of years to understand what heck they meant, but perhaps Citrix really "got it" way early.  I never understood what Citrix meant by "Access" untill they stopped talking about it.  What we are accessing is personal.  Some might think of accessing their desktop, but the desktop is just a place to access their stuff.  And ultimately that is what we care about.  Getting at our electronic stuff.  For years my mind-set was that the applications were what is important, but lately I have come to think of the applications as a means and that it is the data that is truely important.  Applications are mearly tools to help me manipulate and connect.


I'll even be happy to take all my bits and put them in the cloud one day (many are there already).  But not until we work out a few things...


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Brian, you are completely right.  The desktop is nothing but a pretty thing on which to display your apps and data.  I would go further and say that the ascent of desktop and application virtualization signify the end of Microsoft's dominance over the desktop space AND THEY KNOW IT.


We aren't there yet though, but one day soon I hope.


@Daniel Bolton -  I KNEW you would be the first to comment, you seem to be up the *** of every blog and forum out there.  Have you no work to do ?


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The desktop is dead, long live the desktop!


Beyond anything that we talk about, the desktop is that construct where we work on our stuff. (@Tim M-kudos to your naming scheme, it's all STUFF.)


The desktop is what users customize, it's what users always want to see. It's comforting to have a desktop. I can put my links to stuff (that can be anywhere) on my desktop.


It's personal.


Sure, both 'a desktop' and 'The Desktop' are anachronisms. So? The desktop construct is still the strongest and most meaningful one that we have to work with. Even mobile devices carry desktop design similarities.


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@Guise Bule - After my recent appraisal I've been told to "network" and be more social, that and Brian always posts just before I open up Chrome. - Twitter is proving to hard to keep up with and my Mother has discovered other social networking sites - BrianMadden.com is a safe haven!


I guess vWorkspace is proving cost effect and enabling me follow such sites as this! Kaviza keeping you up late?


Does this mean all is forgiven or are we still having a tiff?


As always nice to see you back old chap!


I digress...


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For years I have proposed a Windows JEOS (Just Enough OS) , I dunno miniwin and something similar to the Linux Vine thing with the apps delivered within an app.virt layer that is completly self sufficent with JEOS for the app.


Well, that was a cool mind experiment but then there was 8 AM coffee and life continued... ;)


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Wouldn't the "desktop" still be whatever device you are using to access whatever information. Unless this is Neuromancer, Cyberpunk or Shadowrun happening and I missed that memo there is still something you are using as a portal to said information rather than just plugging yourself into the wire...


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I think of all this virtualization stuff as Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) with loose coupling and interchangeability.  The desktop is a Data Access Layer (DAL).  In SOA, DAL’s can be switched out (think Windows, Mac, web, mobile, etc.) and the top tier (Application layer from the OSI model) remains constant.  In the OSI model, Presentation layers (ICA, HDX, PCoIP, etc.) are interchangeable as well.


So, all that to say this - I agree that there is a difference between “a desktop” and “The Desktop”.  But, I think there will always be a DAL for the apps.  I do see the Windows desktop as *the* DAL fading quickly.


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I actually still love my desktop - one of the major benefits I find is the larger screen.  Sometimes it feels like I am getting "sucked in" by smaller screens and environments to work in.


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