Microsoft Releases Windows RT Azure RemoteApp Client
Microsoft released its Azure RemoteApp client for Windows RT devices this week.
The release is noteworthy for Windows RT users because it represents a way for them to access apps that they can't install on their machines. Windows RT machines, such as the Microsoft Surface 2 tablet-PC, are based on ARM chip technology and can only run Windows Store Apps (formerly known as "Metro" apps or sometimes called "Modern" apps). Using the RemoteApp client, it's possible for Windows RT device users to access "Desktop" apps, which are the more traditional Windows 7-like apps.
Desktop apps can be accessed on Windows RT machines using the Azure RemoteApp client because the application resides in a virtual machine on a remote datacenter. The app appears to run locally, though, according to Microsoft's announcement of the Azure RemoteApp client for Windows RT.
While the applications accessed via the Azure RemoteApp client have to be hosted remotely to be accessed, Microsoft offers a demo for organizations or individuals who haven't set that up. The demo provides testers with five minutes of free access to Excel, PowerPoint and Word running on the Azure RemoteApp infrastructure, as described here.
In addition to the Windows RT client for Azure RemoteApp, clients are available for Android, iOS and Mac OS X platforms. Microsoft is planning to release an Azure RemoteApp client for Windows Phone 8.1 sometime this summer.
The Azure RemoteApp service was announced at Microsoft's TechEd event in May. It's not the same as a desktop-as-a-service offering, which Microsoft hasn't really talked much about for Azure. However, Brad Anderson, Microsoft's corporate vice president for Windows Server and System Center, suggested in a recent talk that Microsoft might consider virtual desktop infrastructure solutions for Azure sometime "in the future."
Azure RemoteApp uses Microsoft's Remote Desktop Services protocol to connect with clients. It taps Microsoft Azure datacenter infrastructure or it can be set up in a hybrid network. At present, there's no indication when Microsoft plans to roll out the service commercially.
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.