It is also used as a means of providing access to Windows applications on non-Windows endpoints (including tablets, smartphones, and non-Windows-based desktop PCs and laptops).
Object Desktop 2.0 was an update to all previously released components, and an integration of the Professional features into the main package. It was priced at $99.95; users of Object Desktop Professional could upgrade for $39, while other versions could be upgraded for $69.95.
Remote desktop virtualization implementations operate in a client/server computing environment. Application execution takes place on a remote operating system which communicates with the local client device over a network using a remote display protocol through which the user interacts with applications. All applications and data used remain on the remote system with only display, keyboard, and mouse information communicated with the local client device, which may be a conventional PC/laptop, a thin client device, a tablet, or even a smartphone. A common implementation of this approach involves hosting multiple desktop operating system instances on a server hardware platform running a hypervisor. This is derivative of the earlier Multiwin Engine developed by Citrix under license from Microsoft. Its latest iteration is generally referred to as "Virtual Desktop Infrastructure", or "VDI". (Note that "VDI" is often used incorrectly to refer to any desktop virtualization implementation. ). Forrester Research identified in its report the Forrester Wave on Server-Hosted Virtual Desktops (VDI), Q3 2015 the seven most significant software providers: Citrix (XenDesktop), Dell (Quest – EOL), LISTEQ, Microsoft (Hyper-V), Nimboxx (VERDE – now part of NComputing), Oracle (VirtualBox), and VMware (Horizon View).
Local desktop virtualization implementations run the desktop environment on the client device using hardware virtualization or emulation. For hardware virtualization, depending on the implementation both Type I and Type II hypervisors may be used.
Object Desktop Professional was (as the name suggests) aimed at professional users of OS/2. It was released on 24 August 1996, priced at $179; users could also upgrade from OD 1.5 for $69.95, or from OD 1.0 for $119. In addition to the features of OD 1.5, the package included:
Local desktop virtualization is well suited for environments where continuous network connectivity cannot be assumed and where application resource requirements can be better met by using local system resources. However, local desktop virtualization implementations do not always allow applications developed for one system architecture to run on another. For example, it is possible to use local desktop virtualization to run Windows 7 on top of OS X on an Intel-based Apple Mac, using a hypervisor such as VirtualBox, Parallels Desktop for Mac, or VMware Fusion, as both use the same x86 architecture, and it was possible to run Windows on a PowerPC-based Mac using Virtual PC.
The initial release of Object Desktop was both praised for its functionality and criticised for performance and compatibility issues.
Object Desktop 1.5 was released on 2 May 1996, fixing many problems, and adding the following components:
Remote desktop virtualization can also provide a means of resource sharing, to distribute low-cost desktop computing services in environments where providing every user with a dedicated desktop PC is either too expensive or otherwise unnecessary.
OpenSolaris Desktop 01 (released October 28, 2005) was based on GNOME 2.10 and OpenSolaris Desktop 02 (released December 23, 2005) was based on GNOME 2.12. The last version was released with the release of OpenSolaris 2009.6, and was based on Gnome 2.24. It also included Firefox 3.1, OpenOffice 3 and Sun VirtualBox. The OpenSolaris Desktop line of the Java Desktop System became defunct with the end of the OpenSolaris project.
OpenSolaris received its own version of the Java Desktop System. OpenSolaris Desktop was tied to the OpenSolaris operating system, and did not have its own release schedule.
Mainstream desktop environments for Unix-like operating systems use the X Window System, and include KDE, GNOME, Xfce, and LXDE, any of which may be selected by users and are not tied exclusively to the operating system in use.
With version 6.0, if the Desktop Experience component is plugged into the remote server, remote application user interface elements (e.g., application windows borders, Maximize, Minimize, and Close buttons etc.) will take on the same appearance of local applications. In this scenario, the remote applications will use the Aero theme if the user connects to the server from a Windows Vista machine running Aero. Later versions of the protocol also support rendering the UI in full 32-bit color, as well as resource redirection for printers, COM ports, disk drives, mice and keyboards. With resource redirection, remote applications can use the resources of the local computer. Audio is also redirected, so that any sounds generated by a remote application are played back at the client system. Moreover, a remote session can also span multiple monitors at the client system, independent of the multi-monitor settings at the server. RDC can also be used to connect to Windows Media Center (WMC) remote sessions; however, since WMC does not stream video using RDP, only the applications can be viewed this way, not any media.
Desktop Effects was built upon Xgl and Compiz to enable a variety of advanced graphical effects in the user interface, such as "application tiling" (similar to Exposé) and a spinning cube that interactively switches between desktops. The now included GNOME 3 Shell includes several graphical desktop effects by default.
The Amiga approach to desktop environment was noteworthy: the original Workbench desktop environment in AmigaOS evolved through time to originate an entire family of descendants and alternative desktop solutions. Some of those descendants are the Scalos, the Ambient desktop of MorphOS, and the Wanderer desktop of the AROS open source OS. WindowLab also contains features reminiscent of the Amiga UI. Third-party Directory Opus software, which was originally just a navigational file manager program, evolved to become a complete Amiga desktop replacement called Directory Opus Magellan.
Remote desktop virtualization can also be provided via cloud computing similar to that provided using a software as a service model. This approach is usually referred to as Cloud Hosted Virtual Desktops. Cloud Hosted Virtual Desktops are divided into two technologies: (1) Managed VDI, which is based on VDI technology provided as an outsourced managed service, and (2) Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS), which provides a higher level of automation and real multi-tenancy, reducing the cost of the technology. The DaaS provider typically takes full responsibility for hosting and maintaining the computer, storage, and access infrastructure, as well as applications and application software licenses needed to provide the desktop service in return for a fixed monthly fee.
X window managers that are meant to be usable stand-alone — without another desktop environment — also include elements reminiscent of those found in typical desktop environments, most prominently Enlightenment. Other examples include OpenBox, Fluxbox, WindowLab, Fvwm, as well as Window Maker and AfterStep, which both feature the NeXTSTEP GUI look and feel. However newer versions of some operating systems make self configure.
Cloud-hosted virtual desktops can be implemented using both VDI and Remote Desktop Services-based systems and can be provided through the public cloud, private cloud infrastructure, and hybrid cloud platforms. Private cloud implementations are commonly referred to as "Managed VDI". Public Cloud offerings tend to be based on Desktop-as-a-Service technology.
Windows Desktop Sharing API is used by Windows Meeting Space and Windows Remote Assistance for providing application sharing functionality among network peers.
The most common desktop environment on personal computers is Microsoft Windows' built-in interface. It was titled Luna in Windows XP, Aero in Windows Vista and Windows 7, Metro in Windows 8 and 8.1, and Fluent in Windows 10. Also common is Aqua, included with Apple's macOS.