VMware pushing Windows apps to any device

VMware CTO Steve Herrod gives VMworld attendees a glimpse at a program that will let corporate IT departments grant access to Windows programs such as Excel on non-Windows devices such as iPads.

Jay Greene Former Staff Writer
Jay Greene, a CNET senior writer, works from Seattle and focuses on investigations and analysis. He's a former Seattle bureau chief for BusinessWeek and author of the book "Design Is How It Works: How the Smartest Companies Turn Products into Icons" (Penguin/Portfolio).
Jay Greene
2 min read

LAS VEGAS--Pressing its case that the desktop is moving away from the center of computing, VMware Chief Technology Officer Steve Herrod gave attendees at the annual VMworld conference here today a glimpse at a technology the company is developing that will let workers access Windows applications regardless of the type of device they're using or the operating system it runs.

VMware CTO Steve Herrod addressing the VMworld 2011 conference today in Las Vegas. Jay Greene/CNET

Herrod built on the post-PC era theme VMware's Chief Executive Paul Maritz laid out in his keynote address at the conference yesterday. Herrod showed off technology from VMware's labs, some of which is being released today, that lets corporate tech managers simply provision applications--such as Microsoft's Excel spreadsheet software--to employees to use on iPads, Android phones, as well as their Windows desktops.

"The world has changed," Herrod said of the era when IT managers doled out applications to PCs, which were then handed to employees. VMware is introducing technology that lets those manager "apply policy based on humans rather than devices," Herrod said.

VMware updated its Horizon Application Manager, which had only let users run cloud-based applications, to support Windows applications regardless of the type of device or the underlying operating system. Herrod also demonstrated ThinApp Factory, which lets employees pick among the applications that their tech departments make available to them. Companies can stitch those together with VMware's Horizon Mobile to make those applications easy to use on portable devices. And VMware announced that devices running Horizon Mobile will be coming from LG and Samsung, among others, in the coming months.

Herrod also previewed VMware's Project AppBlast a service that promises to deliver any application, including ones created for Windows, to any device supporting HTML5. And he demonstrated Project Octopus, a service that synchronizes data to enable collaboration over any device. He didn't disclose when either project would be available.

VMware's Project AppBlast interface. VMware

The idea is to free IT departments from the hassle of granting employees access to specific applications for every device they use. At the same time, it should make it easy for those workers to run a corporate application on whatever device they have in front of them.

In the demonstration, VMware showed an insurance adjuster selecting the apps he needed to do his job from his desktop computer, then finding those same apps running on his mobile phone using Google's Android operating system and later settling a claim from his iPad. And the adjuster was able to view and modify an Excel spreadsheet from his iPad.

"This is really a killer app in the labs," Herrod said. "I think it's going to be quite disruptive."

What's more, the technology keeps the corporate workspace separate from a user's personal apps. On the Android device, for example, the adjusters Facebook and Angry Birds apps remained on his home screen. The phone only changed to his digital workspace when he tapped on the corporate icon on his phone. That separation should also make it easy for IT departments to remove their programs when the employee leaves the company.