VMware is hoping to persuade more enterprises to make the leap to virtual desktops by improving graphics capabilities and allowing them to circumvent Microsoft's licensing terms.
Desktop virtualisation was a major theme at this week's VMworld Europe in Barcelona alongside the company's plans to colonise the whole data centre, including storage and networks. This week it acquired desktop-as-a-service company Desktone.
But its bread and butter is still the Horizon View platform, which will soon be upgraded to version 5.3, Pat Lee, director of product management, said in a blog post.
Running the most advanced 3D graphics applications has been the holy grail for desktop virtualisation platforms and VMware is adding vDGA (virtual Dedicated Graphics Acceleration) to make that possible, according to Lee. The feature is based on VMware's DirectPath I/O and Nvidia's Grid technology, which together allow users to run their applications on a dedicated GPU.
In View 5.3, VMware has also added the ability to use Windows Server 2008 R2 as a stand-alone virtual desktop, in an effort to get around some of Microsoft's licensing terms when running a desktop in the data centre or in the cloud.
For example, desktop-as-a-service providers can't resell access to a client flavor of Windows, instead users have to bring their own licenses, which can be cumbersome.
"VMware of course doesn't make a practice of advising on the specific ins and outs of Microsoft Windows licensing. ... But with this addition, all Horizon View 5.3 customers, those with private cloud deployments and those consuming from a public or hybrid-cloud service provider, will have greater flexibility and choice in how a VDI deployment is properly licensed with our friends up in Redmond," Lee said.
Windows Server 2008 instances can be configured to "pretty much look and feel just like a Windows 7 desktop," according to Lee.
That addition may not sit well with Microsoft, but VMware has made some additions in version 5.3 that should make the company a little happier, including support for Windows 8.1-based desktops and multimedia redirection for video playback on Windows 7. For the latter to work, the client must have a GPU that can H.264 video. Formats such as Flash and Windows Media Video are being considered for future releases, according to the blog post.
There is a new client optimised for iOS 7 and better for performance when accessing a desktop via a browser, as well.
VMware is also tying together View 5.3 with its growing aspirations in the data centre by bundling a VSAN (Virtual SAN) beta. The platform is used to create pools of capacity from a combination of hard drives and solid state storage that come with servers. The goal is to improve resiliency while at the same cut storage related costs.
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