Microsoft announced some new tools today for MDOP (Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack) customers. Beta versions are now available of an updated App-V 5.0 (Application Virtualization), and a new tool that takes virtualization beyond the desktop, and beyond applications–User Experience Virtualization (UE-V).
In a blog post unveiling the new betas, Microsoft explains that UE-V was borne from conversations with customers and industry experts in search of a more consistent experience across devices. A user invests a fair amount of time and effort customizing the Windows desktop, and the configuration of individual software applications to meet their needs. Having the system and software set up the way they want it enables users to be more comfortable, and more productive.
With UE-V, a user can log into a different system–physical or virtual–and enjoy a consistent Windows experience. The system configuration and application settings will be the same no matter what system the user logs into, making it easier to stay productive from device to device, or to resume work on another system in the event of a crash. UE-V integrates with Microsoft Desktop Virtualization tools, and can be deployed using Microsoft’s System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM), or third-party deployment tools.
The blog post states, “By implementing UE-V, IT departments can enable a consistent experience for users who have multiple devices provided by their company or choose to bring their personal PC or tablet to work.” But, when Microsoft says “tablet” it is referring only to the possibility of bringing a personal Windows 7 or Windows 8 tablet to work.
Developing a technology like UE-V that can maintain a consistent user state from one Windows PC to another, as well as to Windows-based tablets is a huge advantage for Microsoft. UE-V could be a driving factor for some companies to embrace Windows 8 and adopt Windows 8 tablets over rivals like the Apple iPad or Android based tablets.
As it stands, there isn’t enough parity of applications to even consider maintaining user state to other non-Microsoft platforms like iOS or Android. The operating systems and available software are so different there really isn’t anything to try and maintain consistency on. Some apps like OneNote or SkyDrive are available for competing mobile platforms, and do provide synchronization between the various devices, but that isn’t quite the same as what UE-V provides.
If (personally, I believe it’s more of a “when”) Microsoft makes the Microsoft Office suite available as iOS apps, there might be more reason, and more opportunity for Microsoft to try and bridge as much of the user experience as possible across multiple platforms.