[AI] Carry your desktop wherever you go

Pranav Lal pranav.lal at gmail.com
Tue Sep 4 20:16:39 EDT 2007

Hi all,

In accessibility terms, most of these applications are not accessible.  The
only screen reader that can support such environments is system access.


-----Original Message-----
From: accessindia-bounces at accessindia.org.in
[mailto:accessindia-bounces at accessindia.org.in] On Behalf Of Mohammed Asif
Sent: Tuesday, September 04, 2007 4:14 PM
To: accessindia at accessindia.org.in
Subject: [AI] Carry your desktop wherever you go


Priyanka Joshi / New Delhi September 04, 2007

OFFICE LIFE: Online desktops could be the next big step in the IT revolution
- bandwidth permitting.

Virtualisation is fast touching data centres, but it's the desktop where the
next round of advances is expected. For now, the offtakes of virtual
or online desktops appears slow.

A couple of strong-willed companies like Nivio and Red Hat are busy pumping
money into research and development and marketing, so as to get the product
right for the masses, but the buying proposition for online desktops is yet
to be clarified to the 40 million internet subscribers in India.

Online desktops are best described as operating systems that keep all their
information online. Using virtual desktop services, a user can take his PC
to different machines (including mobile phones) without physically
transferring data.

For instance, if he logs into a newly-installed computer, or is travelling,
his PC environment will be waiting for him, with no set-up to redo. If you
moving information between machines painful, then consider using an online

"Thanks to online desktops, software and files no longer run on users'
individual computers or local file servers. Instead, all applications, data,
and are delivered from a managed data centre. IT is thus centralised and
simplified, and all you need is an internet connection," explains Sachin
CEO, Nivio.

The company is offering a virtual Windows XP environment to users at Rs 399
(per month), where one can select software suites like Microsoft Office,
tools, instant messengers, security software and multimedia applications,
among others.

A Red Hat spokesperson says that the company is preparing to release in
India this month the new Global Desktop that over time will grow into an
desktop, integrating online services into a client desktop platform.

Red Hat has teamed up with Intel for the platform. Local PC manufacturers
will build the actual systems, which will target small businesses and
in emerging economies, while the software will be made available on Intel's
Classmate PC, a low cost notebook computer for students.

"Integrating the online services with local data is what we will provide for
our next-generation online desktop," explains the Red Hat spokesperson,
"We won't be recreating a Windows paradigm, but delivering a customised
Linux desktop instead."

Red Hat has planned online Linux desktops in around seven regional languages
in India, so that it can convince users and government institutions to

Nivio seems to have gathered some steam, having raised over $3.5 million
through private equity. Earlier, the company had voiced its intentions of
$5 million to fuel expansion, a search for investment that ended with AMD
investing an "undisclosed sum" in R&D. Red Hat will also be announcing
in India to promote its global PC.

"We think that migration from local applications to rich, collaborative
online services such as Google Apps and Flickr potentially represents a huge
for open source on the desktop. So we're working to define and implement a
contemporary desktop experience for this connected world," says the Red Hat

Also striking an optimistic note, Duggal says, "If you like web-based
instant messengers, why stop there? Web-based operating isn't a bad idea
Nivio targets registering 100,000 users by end-December 2007.

Nivio's business model will be structured on selling storage beyond the five
gigabytes that comes free and selling subscriptions to a forthcoming
version of the service. Duggal says his company works on the belief that IT
should be a commodity accessible to all regardless of socio-economic

But first, companies need to ensure that they bundle a broadband connection
with the online desktop products. While Nivio is already working on the
Red Hat seems to have no plans to tie-up with internet service providers.
One close competitor here would be Sify, which recently launched Sify
which too works on the virtual PC environment idea.

One wonders: what is the real target market for the online desktop? Emerging
markets may seem the likely answer.

But the fact that these markets are plagued by low or no bandwidth
availability, extreme conditions, power issues, old or incompatible
machines. And despite
all optimisn, all these factors could combine to make online desktop
services a tough sell.

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