Amazon WorkSpaces just made the Kindle a true work device

Credit: Amazon Web Services

At Amazon Web Services’ Re:Invent conference in Las Vegas today, the company took the wraps off a new service that should make traditional desktop virtualization developers nervous. WorkSpaces is a virtual desktop service that will be hosted by Amazon.

Amazon's entry into the virtualized desktop market is sure to be an eye opener for companies like Citrix, which has been offering desktop virtualization technologies for years, as well as others that have been advancing their offerings. For instance, VMware recently bought Desktone, a company that offers virtualized desktops as a service.

But Amazon's interest in this segment shows just how large the consumerization opportunity has grown. Desktop as a service offerings allow workers to use the device of their choice, including tablets, yet still access the software they need to do their jobs.

“Virtual desktops have been around for a while and never really taken off the way anticipated,” said Andy Jassy, senior vice president of AWS during the AWS Re:Invent conference this morning. His keynote was webcast.

He said current offerings are hard to set up and manage, requiring administrators to worry about virtualization software, hardware, and how to pay for licensed software. “As a result, this business hasn’t really taken off,” he said.

Yet he said that AWS customers have asked for a desktop virtualization service. The company designed WorkSpaces to be an easier to use service that administrators can use without worrying about hardware or software or getting locked into a long term commitment. The service comes with a monthly per user fee and can be used with existing software licenses. It can also be integrated with Active Directory.

In a blog post introducing the service, AWS evangalist Jeff Barr notes that this kind of service can let businesses allow their workers to use any device they want, including desktops, laptops, tablets, or mobile phone to access all the software they need to get their jobs done.

The service is an easy way for Amazon to bring its own Kindle tablets on par with other devices more typically regarded as productivity tools. If a business uses WorkSpaces, a Kindle user can get a full version of Windows plus Office, Adobe, Firefox, IE, and Trend Micro anti-virus software.

WorkSpaces doesn’t have the latest versions of all software, however. It runs Windows 7 and Internet Explorer 9.

Pricing runs from $35 to $75 per month, depending on storage, CPUs, and software licensing.

Oddly, the service doesn’t seem to be designed at least from the start for large businesses. The administrator console only allows managers to provision five WorkSpaces at a time. It’s possible that will change when the service becomes generally available. For now, Amazon is accepting sign ups for a limited preview of the service.  

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