Microsoft SoftGrid App-Virtualization

Microsoft's SoftGrid App-Virtualization seems like a very over complicated technology

I bet it will do really really well in the enterprise. It's almost like a standalone desktop intranet (If that makes any sense).
"This allows companies who want to make available a single image of Office or even a custom line-of-business application to multiple users to push it out to them without having to touch each desktop. It also will aid companies in deploying application patches, as only the changed/updated bits will be streamed to users’ desktops (rather than all of the bits, including those which haven’t changed), she said."
Q: My major wonder is what benefit does this service serve within the internet application space? A: It keeps us on the Windows OS (and if that is an answer then ...).

As outlined in the following blog,

"“SoftGrid just pull (the bits) that are needed,” said Gavriella Schuster, Senior Director of Product Management of the Desktop Optimization Pack team.”IT doesn’t have to do all the regression testing it normally does. It doesn’t need to check in advance for potential application conflicts and crashes. It’s especially good for users with lots of custom business applications.

SoftGrid also allows users to work offline, since the bits that are installed on a user’s desktop remain there, Schuster noted, even when the machine is disconnected from the corporate network.

SoftGrid application virtualization version 1 (which is part of the current MDOP) allows users to stream applications to any desktop inside their firewall, Schuster explained. But the next version will allow users to stream any application that can be virtualized to their desktops or the Web, she said."

My question remains, how is this any different from hosted rich internet applications?
  1. Regression Testing: isn't required with RIA's at the machine level.
  2. Application Conflicts: isn't an issue with RIA's, they reside on different servers and run within a web browser.
  3. Lots of Custom Business Applications: it's easier in many cases to build RIA's than custom stand alone business applications, further with RIA's that leverage a modular design pattern (think gadgets / widgets) it's possible and easier to X-Integrate RIA's than stand alone applications.
  4. Work Offline even when machine is disconnected from corporate network: this has to be one of the biggest sales gimmicks of the digital era. RIA's can already work offline (AIR / AJAX + Cookies + iFrame Storage Layers + Greasemonkey).
  5. Stream Applications to any desktop inside firewall or on the web: I'm sorry but isn't this the basis of Markup Language over HTTP? Isn't this the underlying nature of WWW? Why would we over complicate again?
Seems to me like this product will do well because it's basically being forced on administrators. Seems to me like every software developer will hate this technology because it adds unnecessary complexity to an already defined and evolved internet based operating environment.

As an enterprise I'd love this as I get to keep my data on my network. But if that is the largest limitation of say "Google Premier Apps" success, then it's just a matter of time until they build a corporate network data connector, and sell you a GDA (Google Data Appliance) that will snap into your hosted RIA's.

Over and Out

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