Do you really need the desktop?

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Charles Ponniah, Fujitsu’s lead architect for End User Services challenges the role of the desktop in the organisation…

With so much technology around us, there are plenty of questions for every CIO, IT Department and the end users themselves.

One major question that seems to be constantly asked is “Do you really need the desktop?”. The “desktop” here isn’t about the hardware workstation or PC that sits on or under your work desk. The “desktop” here is all about the familiar sight we all see once we’ve logged in past the “CTRL + ALT + DEL” screen and for some of us its that “cluttered” workspace with all our shortcuts, files, folders, music, pictures and anything we can get our hands on.

The “desktop” still has a part to play in the end user computing world and how we use our workstation today. Currently around 80% of applications require a desktop,  but in 2-3 years time this could reduce to as low as 30%.

This predicted massive percentage drop over the next 2-3 years has very much to do with the proliferation of the multitude of devices ranging from tablets, smartphones and “phablets (combining the feel of a tablet with the convenience of a smartphone).

The huge way in which end users make use of their smartphones and tablets at home is quickly being transferred to the workplace. End users expect the ability to work with these devices at work and the quickly changing technology landscape is fast becoming an enabler for these devices in the workplace.

The reason: people are using and want to use applications in their natural form, sized for things like the iPad with a smaller form factor, portability, responsive on touch screens, tablet ready and so on.

In today’s world the VDI word keeps getting repeated for the ability to deliver end user’s their workspace anywhere, anytime and from any device. But you’re still stuck with a desktop that appears hard to navigate on a small form factor device as mentioned above.

Enter the applications only workspace. Take away the desktop, the need to secure the desktop, the need to have shortcuts on your desktop or in your documents folder and the need to launch a start menu to launch applications.

Imagine a world where, you pick up your mobile tablet, scroll across your tablet screens and find an icon called Office Email, touch the icon to launch it and hey presto your working on your office email and happily responding to work emails, adding meetings, responding to meeting invites and so on. Then you look for an icon that says Office Browser, launch that and perform functions like approving time sheets, expenses and entering your timesheet for the day. The next thing is to launch an icon called Office Docs which then you proceed to launch a document called “Company Ideas – My review.docx”. You then type in your review, comments and corrections.

From the above, you’ve just done what you normally do by getting to a company office desktop but this time avoiding the need to go looking for the start menu or shorcuts to the programs, finding the shorcut you’ve created in a folder called “a million shortcuts” through launching Windows Explorer, to finding the shortcut to a word editing document and you do get the picture of how very quickly the “desktop” world will be replaced by the “apps” world. Continue reading