What Microsoft Really Needs To Decide

Brian Madden had a great post today over on techtarget.com. In it, he outlined eight challenges that he contends that Microsoft will have to deal with in the realm of desktop virtualization. You might want to bounce over there and read his post before you continue. Go ahead, I’ll wait. (Note, however, that you might have to register with techtarget.com and give up your email address to read the content. Do it. In my opinion, the content is worth it.)

While I agree that all eight of the challenges he identifies are indeed issues that have to be dealt with, there is something that he failed to point out (perhaps he thought it was already clear): these issues exist regardless of whose VDI solution you choose. Whether you’re a fan of Citrix XenDesktop, VMware View, Microsoft’s own VDI solution, or someone else’s, if you’re going to be virtualizing Windows desktops you’re going to have to deal with these issues. And people are going to be virtualizing Windows desktops. And a lot of those desktops will be Windows 7 desktops.

What Microsoft really needs to decide is whether they want to proactively smooth the way for people by making it as easy as possible to virtualize Windows, or whether the projects will be done by people who are muttering and swearing under their breath about what a pain in the you-know-what it is to navigate the labyrinthine licensing requirements, deal with KMS license activation, etc.

There are a lot of really smart people at Microsoft. I know some of them – after all, here on the East Side of Lake Washington, you can hardly throw a rock without hitting a Microsoft facility. And I’m sure that many of them are smart enough to know that it’s in Microsoft’s long-term best interests to make desktop virtualization as easy and painless as possible, since people are going to do it anyway. The easier it is, the faster it will be adopted, and that adoption will boost Windows 7 adoption in the process.

But Microsoft also has a great deal of institutional inertia. I liken it to a fully-loaded oil tanker that takes five miles to start turning after you put the helm over. So it will be really interesting to see whether the really smart people will be able to overcome the institutional inertia. The fun will begin tomorrow, when we see what Microsoft has to say in their “Desktop Virtualization Hour” Webcast.

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