Windows DaaS: goodbye to ‘your’ PC as you know it

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30 July 2018 | 0

For over 30 years, we have thought of PCs primarily as Windows machines, which we owned and controlled. That is about to change.

This is not about Microsoft pushing Windows 10 as fast as it can, rather it is about Microsoft abandoning the Windows platform as a conventional desktop.

Microsoft is getting ready to replace Windows 10 with the Microsoft Managed Desktop. This will be a “desktop-as-a-service” (DaaS) offering.

DaaS for Windows is not new, Citrix and VMware have made a living from it for years. Microsoft has offered Remote Desktop Services, formerly Terminal Services, for ages. However, Microsoft Managed Desktop is a new take in that it avoids the latency problem of the older Windows DaaS offerings by keeping the bulk of the operating system on your PC, but you will no longer be in charge of your Windows PC. Instead, it will be automatically provisioned and patched for you by Microsoft.

Few will have been unaware that IT departments have not been happy with Microsoft’s twice yearly major “upgrades” to Windows 10. Many are of the opinion that these are not upgrades or updates — they are service patches (SP).

Take the Windows 10 April 2018 Update; it came with more than its fair share of bugs. What was especially annoying was that “Update” fouled so many of Microsoft’s own programs. When even Word, Outlook and File Explorer lock up, you know you have a mess on your hands. There were even recommendations to turn off automatic updating. Windows patching was always chancy, but with Windows 10 you are more likely to have trouble when you patch than you are to avoid problems.

Given this track record, many are expressing misgivings at paying to let Microsoft maintain fleets of desktops.

Nonetheless, DaaS Windows is coming. Microsoft has been moving away from the old-style desktop model for years now, with Office as a good example. Microsoft would much rather have you rent Office via Office 365 than buy Microsoft Office and use it for years. Microsoft Managed Desktop is the first move to replacing “your” desktop with a rented desktop. By 2021, it is expected that Managed Desktop will be to traditional Windows what Office 365 is to Office today: the wave of the future. Or maybe tsunami, depending on perspective.

For many industry veterans, especially those that recall the PC revolution, this is not a trend to excite. Users went from depending on mainframes and Unix boxes for computing power to having the real power on their desktops, which was liberating. Now Microsoft, which helped lead that revolution, is trying to return to that old, centralised control model.

If Microsoft continues on this course, soon the only real choices if you really want a “desktop” operating system will be Linux and MacOS. There will still be “Windows”, but not necessarily as your “personal” desktop.

 

Steven J Vaughan-Nichols is an industry veteran journalist writing for ComputerWorld

 

IDG News Service

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