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May - 2011 - issue > Technology
Time-to-Change-Revolutionary-Platform-Enables-Windows-App-Store
Rao Cherukuri
Friday, April 29, 2011
For ages, users were tied to physical devices for accessing their software applications. The internet, with the availability of connectivity everywhere brought in a new paradigm to software access -not struck to a physical device for my software. However, the flip side has been the limitations such as the need for being always connected and non-productive user experience.

The advent of next generation client devices and the new platforms has further fuelled the need to be able to execute any application on any platform and on any device. In that regard thanks to App Store model which takes the users in that direction a bit closer, but the ability to run an application on any platform is still an issue as there are no viable solutions to address this issue yet.

In this article, we will explore the trends that have contributed to the success of App Store model, the need for a Windows App Store and what is necessary to make the Windows App Store implementation successful and learn about an amazing success story and the technology behind.

Rise of App Store Model
Apple leads the way in delivering the ultimate in user experience with its new breed of applications delivered through the App Store while web application vendors (Google, Salesforce and more) lead the market in flexibility with their browser based access on any device and platform. Yet, both approaches fall woefully short with almost crippled support for migrating thousands of full-featured Windows productivity applications to run within a Web browser or on multiple mobile platforms. Meanwhile, Microsoft, which dominates the PC world, lacks both the flexibility and App Store like experience.

The proliferation of multiple platforms, on the other hand, raises a number of challenges – with the internet evolution, we moved away from writing platform specific applications to platform neutral applications, but now we are regressing to the age of writing applications for each next-generation platform such as iOS or Android. Also, as most productivity applications run exclusively on Windows PCs, nine out of ten users - collectively more than 750 million users - are forced to acquire and learn at least one new device, just to meet their mobile productivity needs.

In the interim, the current and next round of Virtualization and Cloud Computing vendors are proposing solutions that contradict the mobile lifestyle they extol, unaligned with popular App Store delivery models, and quite simply, don’t work very well. Industry analysts readily admit these solutions are expensive, deliver poor user experience and don’t offer mobile and offline usage. While Microsoft Windows remains, by far, the dominant choice for productivity, professional and gaming applications, neither Microsoft nor its vast ecosystem of ISVs and device vendors have any easy answers to meet the growing demand for new delivery vehicles such as a Windows App Store or Software/Game/Desktop-as-a-Service.

Windows App Store – What it takes to make it Happen?
Bringing the App Store model to legacy Windows Applications and games requires a revolutionary smart OS container technology which is capable of decoupling user’s workspace away from the OS similar to hypervisor technology (that decoupled the OS from underlying HW). Once the user’s workspace is decoupled, it is independent of target OS and its applications can be stored as a set of files in a central server. Now, these centrally stored application files can be delivered to any client device similar to App Store model and executed locally using the container application on the client.

Also, the technology should be a combination of best of the two worlds, comfort of being centrally stored and managed as a single copy of application, and delivered to any number of users in the App Store way. No change to applications, no complex packaging, a different approach making software delivery and execution miraculously efficient. Users should be able to run their Windows productivity applications and games even on non-Windows (MAC, Android, iOS, webOS) x86 devices - on demand or as a service - with native execution, online or offline.

Existing Solutions and Windows App Store
Apple’s App Store and iTunes are great for consumers but sloppy for companies. Yet only recently have vendors like HP have started working on an enterprise app store, for better productivity app deployment and management.

HP’s enterprise App Store and Intel’s AppUP center are other App Stores that are being talked about. Microsoft’s App Store is speculated to be using Silverlight and XNA just like for X-Box and windows phone or may be limited to small quickly downloadable apps, and not huge applications or OS changes.

While these App Stores are built to deliver new applications, porting legacy windows productivity applications and games requires a massive effort regressing rebuilding the applications for the new platform. This remains a big void in the game of App Stores.

A Success Story
DeskStream has developed a platform with a unique client container technology, using which we have had great success in implementing Windows App Store model. The idea is to build and demonstrate to our users that, if implemented differently and in the right way, technology exploited to create delivery platforms that can be a game changer for their business.

DeskStream platform stores the Windows Apps and Games as templates on a storage server. These applications are delivered to users and run natively using container application on the client device. Windows productivity applications such as MSOffice and games like “World of Warcraft” were run. Even processor intensive applications such as Auto CAD or complex multimedia applications and games were tried successfully. The platform is capable of delivering windows applications and games to tablet PCs or even to homes on smart TVs as a service, thus enabling true personal computing for the masses.

Looking Ahead
Traditional Windows applications that we all depend on every day, are meant to be installed and managed for every user discretely, and are not developed to be delivered in the App Store model. The existing solutions or the ones being proposed glaringly lack the ability to support the legacy applications and games.

Windows App Store is set to change the software delivery landscape where it delivers the entire Windows world anywhere, anytime and on to any device on-demand. This is all done without requiring changes or re-writes to the original apps or games.

Windows App Store empowers the vast eco system of Microsoft and the developer community, to continue to write their applications in the same way as before without any change to their processes and letting them build applications and submit to the App Store. Users get to benefit greatly as they, now have a single platform to get the legacy productivity applications and games or the latest and greatest one in the Windows world.

The author is Founder & CEO, DeskStream
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