On the road to the virtual desktop
Windows application virtualization and streaming solutions from Microsoft, Symantec, and Thinstall are laying the groundwork for a subscription-based, click 'n' run future. Imagining the possibilities, we put them through a simple SaaS performance test
SoftGrid, by contrast, is a product in transition. The old bits are getting stale, but that’s to be expected for a code base that is in the process of being strip mined. Expect to see pieces of SoftGrid technology popping up all over Microsoft’s product line with the end game of delivering an on-demand platform from which the company can distribute most of its wares. In the meantime, the product that was Softricity’s crown jewel is now available as a freebie for Microsoft’s most loyal customers. These shops will want to take advantage of the opportunity to kick SoftGrid’s tires and to prepare for what will doubtless be a major push by Microsoft to seed its version of application virtualization throughout the enterprise computing landscape.
The odd man out in the trio is Thinstall. Thinstall's integrated Virtual Operating System is still a technical marvel. Where else can you find so much muscle crammed into a 300K file header? However, the company’s lack of progress in building out the management and delivery mechanisms has left Thinstall looking more and more like a one-trick pony. Those lingering deployment issues -- no caching, SMB-only streaming -- need to be addressed immediately, while the more visionary elements of the Thinstall executive team must start painting a bigger picture before enterprise customers lose interest. Perhaps the best case would be if Thinstall were acquired by a larger player (IBM and HP come to mind) who can help them weave their innovative virtualization tool into a cohesive delivery and management framework to counter those of Microsoft and Symantec.