I spoke with a couple of reporters earlier this week on the partnerships between Google and VMware and Google and Citrix around supporting Windows XP on Chromebooks. VMware has $200 off Chromebook discount for business buyers, and Citrix has a discount as well. Both are deep into vying with each other around the Desktop-as-a-Service market and interested in dominating that market which is looking to be driven by a pretty simple need: providing a way to use Windows applications on non-Windows devices.
The role of Chromebooks in all of this is interesting: perhaps it’s the cheapest “non-Windows end-user device.” It hasn’t seen massive market-share, but has been growing quickly to something like 2-5%, to throw out a wild-guess driven broad range. (ABI and NPD have some recent Chromebook marketshare estimates as well.)
Amazon launched a DaaS offering recently as well, which I covered in a 451 report; VMware released their DaaS just a tad before Amazon; Citrix, of course, sells a DaaS platform to others who want to run it, and of course has its current virtual desktop empire.
Back to the press part! Both Kevin McLaughlin of CRN (his story) and Dan Kobialka of Talkin’ Cloud (his story) asked for my take on the VMware/Google partnership, and then on Citrix’s involvement. Here’s the amalgamation of my responses to them:
Last I saw somewhere in Twitter there’s something like a quarter of the market still running XP which is certainly significant. I’m not really sure how many customers would take advantage of switching over to DaaS: the time and expense to do so might be the same as just upgrading to Windows 7 depending on how grueling the process was.
When I look at VMware and Citrix (just announced) working with Chromebooks the impact is mostly about adding legitimacy to Chromebooks as a viable business tool. VMware’s partnership means that there’s one way to keep using Windows applications on Chromebooks, through Horizon via the Blast protocol. Citrix announced a similar partnership today as well. Both have a constellation of service provider partners who do Desktop-as-a-Service (VMware has it’s own DaaS as well), or enterprises could just use their own on-premise virtual desktop setups, which both vendors support as well.
I’m not sure how many Windows applications are out there, but there’s likely an uncountable amount ranging from older packaged software to custom written applications used inside the confines of corporate firewalls. Rewriting all of these applications to be pure HTML or native iOS and Android is sort of ludicrous at this point, so as things like BYOD and the spread of iOS and Android devices in the enterprise plays out, companies will need some way of accessing these Windows apps. Android and iOS have had the kind of virtual desktop support needed for awhile, and the Chromebook work that VMware and Citrix are doing here is making it so that Chromebooks can fit, technologically at least, into that corporate mix as well.