Short-Take: Windows 7 for iPad, FreeMarch 9, 2011
Remember that announcement about View 4.6 and the PCoIP Software Gateway (PSG) a week or so back? If the existence of PSG got your imagination drifting towards running Windows7 over PCoIP on your iPad or Android tablet, then some of you are going to be very excited and some of you will have to wait a little bit longer.
Today VMware is taking mobile desktop to a new level by announcing the general availability of the View Client for iPad V1.0 – Android tablet users will have to wait! This is a iPad-native, PCoIP-only client for View 4.6 environments (i.e. PCoIP w/PSG support) with gesture-enabled navigation and virtual mouse pad. If you liked accessing your View desktop in Wyse’s PocketCloud for iPhone & iPad (RDP mode only), you’re going to love the View Client for iPad because it unlocks the rich, PCoIP goodness that you’ve been missing.
Last week a group of vExperts were briefed on the iPad app by its development team leader Tedd Fox who came to VMware in August, 2010 after nearly 8 years of work at Citrix (co-inventor/designer of Citrix Reciever for iPad & iPhone). To say Tedd knows iPad/mobile and remote app/desktop is an understatement, and VMware has committed to an aggressive “feature update” schedule for the iPad app on the order of every 1-2 months (typical of mobile application norms.)
Needless to say, we had a few questions. Here’s just a few of the responses from our Q/A and demonstration session:
vExpert: Will there be a iPhone link for touchpad control?
Tedd: No. Due to some patent-pending issues, we decided not to tread on that ground.
vExpert: Has it been enhanced for the iPad2?
Tedd: No. It’s [iOS] 4.3 “ready” but nobody’s got an iPad2 so no one knows if there application’s going to work. We’ve tested on dual-core architecture before, just not Apple’s dual-core architecture.
vExpert: Dual-core tested? So there’s an Android app coming?
Tedd: Android app is coming! We’re looking at mid-year for the Android. I just spent a few weeks in China getting that in alpha-alpha mode; so we actually have a UI and everything – we’re just building-up the bits… it’s going to be tablet only. It works on a 7″ right now, but we’re not sure if that’s a useful form.
vExpert: Is that because it’s too small [i.e. 7″ screen]?
Tedd: It’s because of the mouse pad and everything… it just doesn’t feel right – the resolution and everything.
vExpert: Not even with panning and side scrolling [small screen]?
Tedd: Not really. Panning a windows desktop is “okay” for like 10 minutes, after which you develop something like Tourette syndrome with curse words and all. We actually ran tests on that to figure that out, but it could change [given the right demand/use case.]
vExpert: Will it support bi-directional audio?
Tedd: No, uh, uni-directional is definitely on the roadmap so doctors can dictate and stuff like that. Otherwise, we’re going to see how the protocol matches up for [more complex] audio applications.
vExpert: Can we get more information on the Android app?
Tedd: I don’t want to get into the Android client because everything is still “in flux” and we’re still designing it…
vExpert: Will [View Client for iPad] work with bluetooth mouse and keyboard?
Tedd: Yes… You have to go into the iPad settings and pair them… then with you do the three-finger tap on the screen – like to activate the on-screen keyboard – that’s how you activate the bluetooth keyboard [only, no mouse support per Apple policy], and the [on-screen] toolbar drops down to the bottom of the screen… It’s very nice to use.
vExpert: Will it support multitasking, multiple sessions and session swapping?
Tedd: No. We’re working with Teradici on full-multitasking for one of the feature revs this year.
vExpert: It seemed that logging-in and getting to your desktop seemed pretty quick. What would you say?
Tedd: This [demo] is on 3G – by the way – so it’s fairly quick. The only [downside] is if you’re using RSA tokens: you’ve got to read the token and put it in… If the broker policy allows users to save their passwords, then you’d only need the token code.
vExpert: Is there a way to transfer data to/from the iPad from the [View client desktop]?
Tedd: Working on that – that’ll be in the next rev or two. There’s a grey area there with the shared foldering system in iOS – some people are like “yeah, awesome” but if you talk to DoD they’re like “heck no” so we’re working on an elegant solution.
vExpert: What about dropbox or something like that?
Tedd: If we have an internal solution then yes. I don’t want to be [bound by a third party] on our app – I want to keep it as “pure VMware” as possible. If the market screams for it in enough number, then of course I’m going to listen… If it’s allowed in your desktop’s environment [dropbox will work.]
vExpert: How’s the performance of the View client while other programs are in the background on the iPad?
Tedd: You don’t even notice it. If you know me you know I’ve constantly got white earbuds on. One of my test cases was working on a desktop while running on Pandora in the background.
vExpert: Price is free?
Tedd: Yeah, as long as I’m with VMware it will always be free.
Over the course of the demonstration, we saw Tedd put the application through its paces. It’s fast – even on the original iPad. The gesture interface looks well thought-out, has been thoroughly tested – Tedd says “rock solid” – and repeated three-finger abuses [rapid toggling the keyboard] won’t crash the View iPad app. Can’t wait to get it into SOLORI’s lab…
- The VMware View Client for iPad is available now from iTunes.
- The View Client for iPad official screen shots are available here.
- Support for the client is currently being handled through the on-line VMware View for iPad community blog.
- You might also be interested in Andre Leibovici’s unofficial and experimental VDI bandwidth calculator updated to accommodate View 4.6 parameters.
- Thanks to Eric Sloof for this link to a “sick” expansion to your VDI stack – PCoIP server off-load, supporting up to 64 client displays per PCIe card. Promises up to 50% reduction in CPU loads by handling PCoIP display compression tasks – VMware View 4.6 ready!
[Update: View 4.x -> View 4.6 (iPad Client designed for View 4.6 and PSG). Added community blog link, virtual keyboard and loupe screenshots. Remote add -> Remote app. Added link to Andre’s VDI calculator. Clarification on bluetooth mouse support. Related links section with PCoIP off-load.]