WSX turns any browser into a PC

I really like the idea of being able to work on the go. For those of us whose jobs can be performed entirely through a computer, it seems only logical with the advances in mobile computing and networking that we should be able to do that work wherever there is a half decent network connection and a tablet, ultrabook or even a smartphone.

This dream has yet to become a reality. Despite their popularity and obvious potential as work devices, tablet operating systems just don't support the apps most businesses need. And even with all the remote desktop solutions out there, it is still not easy to get a decent remote solution for all of your devices.

Remote desktops were fine when you were connecting from one single monitor system to another, but the concept of a desktop in a window really breaks down when you start mixing the number of monitors available on a system, or try to display a PC desktop on a touch screen.

There are surprisingly few ways to deliver single applications to remote systems. Linux has been able to do this for ever, but clients don't exist yet for mobile devices. On Windows system you have to use something like Citrix or the latest version of Windows server, but again clients for Linux and mobile devices are hard to come by. ThinVNC also apparently supports delivering single applications, but it just crashed when I tried to make it work.

The obvious solution is to deliver remote applications to a web browser. Now that Google is making a version of Chrome for Android, it's safe to assume that any upcoming computing device from a smartphone up will have a decent web browser.

To this end, VMWare have announced a new product, referred to as WSX, that has the potential to expose your applications to any network connected device via a web browser. I say potential, because the excellent Unity feature of VMWare Workstation 8 currently allows single windows to be delivered to the host desktop as if they were native apps, and hopefully WSX will do something similar.

If WSX does indeed deliver single applications, it would be a game changer. You would no longer be restricted by the availably of a client app for your OS, and you would be free to make the most of the display capabilities of your set up from three 27 inch monitors on your desktop down to a single low res (at least until everyone owns an iPad 3) touch screen.

Still, anyone who has been waiting for a decent way to converge their mobile and desktop space will have noticed a lot of promises and not much action. OnLive is dealing with licensing issues, Ubuntu for Android has some serious limitations, NX 4 (which also has a HTML5 based client) has been in preview for ages, and AccessNow is aimed squarely at the enterprise market (so unless you have a lot of money to spend, this is not going to let you access your own cloud desktop on the go). WSX might just provide a solution that the average person can afford, but I'll wait for the final product to make any real judgement.

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