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iPhone gets virtual Windows desktop

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Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

Virtual desktop provider Citrix has, again, announced it'll be developing a client for the iPhone, providing the option of a Windows desktop on an iPhone: albeit at a distance.

Citrix runs services such as GoToMyPC that allow remote access to desktop computers, as well as more comprehensive virtual desktop products that allow thin clients to connect and act as though they're running the desktop locally. The company demonstrated remote access from an iPhone back in June (two minutes 30 seconds into the following video), but it will be early next year before we see a real iPhone product:

Citrix has announced the project before, since setting up a poll of users to see if anyone wanted an iPhone version, but now the company is promising that iPhone users will be able to interact with XenApp (for applications) and XenDesktop (for the whole desktop experience) remotely by the middle of 2009.

Desktop virtualisation certainly has its place, but accessing a desktop interface from a hand-held is of more dubious value - you're certainly not going to do a day's work sliding around your virtual desktop from a phone, and it's hard to think of an application that wouldn't be better served using a proper mobile client rather than via a shrunken interface on a touch-screen phone.

Citrix already provides clients for S60 and Windows Mobile devices, and a device like HTC's Advantage, or something along the lines of the Redfly, makes the process quite practical: it's a shame the iPhone can't support a larger screen or keyboard, at least not yet. ®

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