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Microsoft's Rumored 'Mohoro' DaaS Project: It's Not So Far Fetched

Microsoft may be readying a future Windows desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) project, rumored to go by the code name "Mohoro," that will run from Windows Azure, according to a press account.

Veteran Microsoft watcher Mary Jo Foley described Mohoro last week, based on her sources, which went unnamed. One source told Foley that Mohoro is like a hosted version of Microsoft's RemoteApp. The service presently exists at an early development phase and it might not see the light of day until "the second half of 2014," Foley speculated.

Microsoft did not confirm Mohoro's existence. A spokesperson stated on Monday that "Microsoft doesn't comment on rumors or speculation and has nothing to share at this time."

Mohoro may sound like a standard virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) scenario, in which a desktop is remotely accessed from a server. That capability is nothing new, noted writer Steven J. Vaughn-Nichols, in a ZDNet story about Mohoro. However, Microsoft describes RemoteApp a bit differently, saying that "the RemoteApp program is integrated with the client's desktop." That sort of technology can be seen with Microsoft's "click-to-run" streaming technology, based on App-V, which allows "Office on demand," or the delivery of temporary copies of Office on local machines. In other words, the application runs locally, rather than on a server somewhere.

Currently, Microsoft's licensing only allows VDI via Windows Server 2008 R2 or Windows Server 2012. That distinction, while odd, is quite firm in Redmond's mind. For instance, DaaS company OnLive, which tried to host the Windows 7 client OS in multitenant scenarios for its customers, got slapped down hard last year for allegedly violating Microsoft's Service Provider Licensing Agreement rules. While it's technically possible to run the Windows client OS in VDI scenarios, it's not permitted under Microsoft's rules. OnLive later got sold off, perhaps for unrelated reasons, even though it apparently had tried to switch to using Windows Server for VDI. That switch got noticed by OnLive's end users as there appears to be some slight user interface differences to a VDI-delivered desktop using Windows Server.

Using Windows Azure to deliver the desktop is currently possible by running Windows Server 2008 R2 or Windows 2012 in a virtual machine via Windows Azure Infrastructure Services, which the company launched last month. Remote connections to these virtual machines can be enabled through Microsoft's Remote Desktop Protocol -- essentially, a DaaS-like scenario. Still, the end user is technically getting a Windows Server desktop, rather than the classic Windows desktop OS experience, and there might be some usability differences.

Mohoro, if it exists, might be a way to deliver a truer desktop experience to end users. It's also suggested by Foley that this VDI-like scenario might be the best way for organizations using Windows RT devices to tap "legacy" (or Win32) applications, since Windows RT devices cannot run applications that were originally designed to run on Windows 7.

Possibly, Mohoro could be a way for Microsoft to address its application problem for Windows 8 and Windows RT machines. Microsoft has gone the way of Apple in delivering (and controlling) apps from an online store. It needs developers to create so-called "modern apps" for Windows 8 and Windows RT, but Mohoro could backfill that catalog with older apps accessed as a service.

Microsoft charges a percentage for apps in its Windows Store, so it's unclear how legacy business apps might be supported under Mohoro scenarios. That point was noted by Gabe Knuth, a site editor at BrianMadden.com, in a blog post. He also whimsically noted that Microsoft could potentially violate its own EULA software use rights with Mohoro since running the Windows client OS in a multitenant structure is currently prohibited by Microsoft.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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