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TechEd Announcements that enhance End User Computing

By Gunnar Berger | June 03, 2013 | 0 Comments

At events like Microsoft’s TechEd it can be hard to hear the important updates through all the announcements. I wrote this blog while cramped in the keynote and honestly it can get a bit overwhelming because there are a ton of announcements and not all of them are very interesting to an analyst that focuses on end user computing. So for those of you interested in what Microsoft is doing (and isn’t doing) in the world of EUC here you go:

Windows Clients: Microsoft has heard our screams on Windows 8. We don’t all work from touch devices and working from Windows 8 from a desktop doesn’t give the best user experience (Two points if you can sum it into a single word). As I’ve said in previous blogs, mouse input seemed as an afterthought on Windows 8. So its not surprising, but I’m happy non-the-less, that one of the most notable changes in Windows 8.1 is the UI:

  • Organizations will be able to boot the OS directly to the desktop. Don’t need to look at Metro, find that increases the learning curve and doesn’t offer much benefit to your users? Well you aren’t alone, with 8.1 you can boot directly to the desktop. Woot!
  • Desktop links launch desktop applications. One of the more annoying features in Windows 8 is that when you click on a PDF or a Mail link it defaults to the Metro app. Microsoft has fixed it so that if you want to run in desktop mode it will default to desktop apps (and the reverse is also true).
  • We have a start button. To me this isn’t a big deal, but some may find having a button on the screen to the Start Screen is helpful.
  • Start Screen is different for desktop users: One change that is welcome is how the Start Screen works if you are in desktop mode. Instead of dropping you to Metro, the Start Screen overlays your desktop (this sounds a lot like Apple’s Launchpad). Basically they are letting desktop users stay within the desktop.
  • Other Start Screen changes:  Admins are able to create a custom start experience, enabling all applications to display or only a select few applications, whatever the organization wants.

While the traditional start menu is gone and probably never come back. Giving orgs the ability to better customize this screen and not focuses users into Metro is a welcome change for this analyst.

Windows Server 2012: A lot of the buzz for me is what happening in Windows Client (8.1) but as I am reminded on twitter on a daily basis is that VDI is a much smaller market than traditional RDS. So for those interested in RDS updates, here are some announcements around Window Server 2012 that make VDI and RDS better.

  • Session Shadow: I doubt you hear much about this as an added feature but its a new one (if you can believe its “new”) Session Shadowing allows admins to control active sessions. I must have missed the memo where this feature was lost, guessing it happened around RDP8 but will update this blog once I have more details.
  • Deduplication Storage: Storage is one of the highest costs of virtual desktops. Thankfully Microsoft has done a lot of work to make this more cost effective. To start we now have block level de-duplication. For VDI this is a very important feature. After all if you are going to deploy hundreds of Windows desktops on the same storage infrastructure chances are good a huge chuck of that data is going to be identical. Block level de-dup saves us on the capacity side.
  • Storage Tiering: Capacity is only a part of the problem, the other more difficult problem is the sheer amount of IO needed to handle these workloads. To help with this Microsoft gives us Storage Teiring. This technology allows organizations to mix and match local disks and it will tier it automatically. Moving commonly accessed data to a faster teir on the fly.
So better storage is a major feature of Server 2012 R2 and its very welcome as far as I’m concerned. The cost of storage needs to drop and I’ve been very public in my desire to see these costs drop drastically. In my mission of having storage cost less than $100 per user for VDI workloads these changes in Server 2012 R2 are helping pave the way for organizations to see this as a reality.

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Come see me “Attack the High Costs of Desktop Virtualization” at the Gartner Catalyst Conference.

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