Taking Windows Desktops to the Cloud

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Because of the way most people were first introduced to Windows, the assumption has always been that Windows needs to run locally on a PC. With the advent of cloud computing, however, that assumption is about to be challenged.

A cloud service provider called nivio is rolling out for the first time in the U.S., today, a service that gives users access to instances of Windows running in the cloud that can not only be accessed directly by standard x86 devices, but also from iOS, Macintosh and Linux devices, including Apple iPad and Android tablets, that support an HTML5-compatible browser.

The nivio service, previously available in Europe, Australia, the Middle East and India, consists of an nDesktop feature the company says gives access to a full Windows desktop from all their devices in less than 30 seconds. The company also offers nDrive, which allows users to create a document using their laptop, save it, then edit it with their iPad at home or work offline and synch the files later. Finally, nivio also created an app store where users can rent specific Windows applications.


The service itself runs in data centers managed by Rackspace, and makes use of IT management services from Quest and thin client software from Wyse Technology.

According to nivio Co-founder and Chief Wizard Sachin Dev Duggal, the service isn't really designed to replace to Windows deployments in large companies, but rather augment those Windows environments with a cloud service that provides additional flexibility. At the same time, Dev Duggal says that for smaller organizations, nivio may be all they will ever really need.

As mobile computing becomes more ubiquitous, Dev Duggal says that for a lot of organizations, relying on locally installed Windows applications is no longer sufficient. Workers are roaming from place to place using multiple types of devices. They generally have access to the Internet, but it's just that the device they are using at any given time changes. The nivio service is designed to give users access to their Windows desktop wherever they happen to be regardless of the device being used, says Dev Duggal.

From an IT perspective, Dev Duggal says the service eliminates the need to manage software upgrades and updates, and all malware issues are handled by nivio. Centralized management of Windows, of course, is hardly a new idea. But Dev Duggal says extending the access of a centralized Windows desktop to any device via the cloud takes that concept one step further, which he adds is a concept that many IT organizations are getting more comfortable with as they gain more exposure to other services such as Microsoft Office 365.

Currently in beta, the nivio service is being priced starting at $5 per month for up to 10 hours of access time during an initial promotional period.