Microsoft announced the cross platform Remote Desktop Services client..

On the 18th of October this year Microsoft announced the Remote Desktop Services client for Android and iOS, bringing the Windows desktop to phones and tablets. Although at first I couldn’t find any additional information it looked like Microsoft has an agreement with iTap as the RDP apps for iOS, Mac OS X and Android platforms from iTap are discontinued as of 18th of October as stated here.

But during my research for this blog post I found a statement from Brad Anderson (Corporate Vice President, Windows Server & System Center) stating the following:

The RDP clients that we released into the stores yesterday are not v1 apps. Back in June, we acquired IP assets from an organization in Austria (HLW Software Development GMBH) that had been building and delivering RDP clients for a number of years. 

The iTap client was a product from HLW Software, the link that Brad’s referring in his article “Wow: Remote Desktop Goes Cross Platform!” to http://hlw-software.com/ doesn’t work anymore so we can only guess what happened to them.

Screenshots from Google Play Store and iTunes

One of the reasons of this blog post was to gather some thoughts on this announcement. I’ve had a couple of discussions about this and still can’t figure out if Microsoft is following the money (announcement because of a big demand of cross platform clients) or if it’s the execution of their new strategy of being a ‘devices and services company’.

The reason why this is important (to me) is that it if it’s an execution of strategy it could be a good signal to Citrix/VMware and all other players on the desktop virtualization magic quadrant. If Microsoft is capable of supporting a Remote Desktop Services client on Android, IOS and Mac OSX it will gain traction by delivering a more complete solution for mid-sized companies and enterprises.

The whole BYOD strategy is still under development as Microsoft announced the discontinuing of the Microsoft UAG and will stop support on April 14, 2015, and paid, extended support through April 14, 2020.

With DirectAccess they have a great VPN-like solution for domain-joined machines and Work Folders and Workplace Join. But who would add his own tablet or phone to the Workplace of his employer? To me that’s more likely in a situation where COPE (Corporate Owned, Personally Enabled) is adapted and you can enforce people to use those techniques rather than just adding personal owned devices to some corporate management solution.

On the other hand there’s a change in the services Microsoft can offer with the traditional RDS and the newer VDI proposition based on Microsoft technology only. Key will be features and bandwidth as both VMware and Citrix have a head start on both key points.

My thoughts on this one: It’s a step Microsoft had to make, either by following the money or a well thought out strategy the cross platform client was asked for so Microsoft delivered. The quality of the client (both in UX and functionality for admins) and the technology to deliver this to non-domain joined devices will determine if it’s a successful move.

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Kees Baggerman

Kees Baggerman is a Staff Solutions Architect for End User Computing at Nutanix. Kees has driven numerous Microsoft and Citrix, and RES infrastructures functional/technical designs, migrations, implementations engagements over the years.

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