Some Nordic Thoughts on App Remoting and User Interaction

Last week I attended the Norwegian Citrix User Group Spring Event in Lillestrom (which is close to Oslo). There were roughly 100 attendees and this crowd is really inspiring. Despite the fact that they were never cheering and screeming while I was presenting my sessions, I had some really good conversations with individual memers of this group. In addition, we had some round table discussions which made me think about our industry.

One question I was asked was “What do you think was among the most influencial technologies developed over the last years?”. My answer was touch screens and gesture-oriented computer interaction. I truely believe that these technologies will massively influence the way how people interact with computers. This doesn’t mean that they will replace keyboard and mouse in all use cases. However, touching a screen and using gestures is a lot more intuitive for many users, so they will be adopted rapidly. Unfortunately, most existing applications cannot really profit from a touch screen yet. I expect many application designers and developers to come up with new solutions for that, revelutionizing “natural” user interaction within the next five years.

What does that mean for virtual desktops and and remote applications? There are so many existing Windows applications – in particular in enterprise environments – that will not disappear shortly. I believe that Windows will slowly turn into an application hosting platform providing such Windows applications for dedicated touch and gesture-oriented frontends. These frontend devices will go beyond the iPad form factor as we it know it today. The application runtime logic including the graphical UI will be clearly separated from the device used for user interaction. As a consequence the difference between web applications and traditional Windows applications will disappear step by step. This will not only be the case at work but also at home. In other words, desktop virtualization and application remoting will be a commodity. Microsoft and Citrix (and to some extend VMware and other vendors) will provide the necessary base technology regarding application runtime platform and remoting protocol. Multiple vendors will provide the forntend devices, satisfying the requirements of a heterogeneous target audience. Do you agree? What are your thoughts?

Isn’t it funny, I didn’t even mention the hype phrase “cloud”, as cloud is only one scenario among so many that can benefit from mature desktop and application remoting technologies.