Amazon announces WorkSpaces, and shifts Kindle into business tool

Amazon has announced a new virtual desktop service, WorkSpaces, hosted on Amazon’s EC2 platform. The immediate impact is on the virtualization marketplace for VMware, Citrix, and others. But it also opens the door to Kindle as a business device, competing with iOS, Android, and Windows devices. Most particularly Windows devices, like Microsoft’s Surface and Nokia Lumia tablets.

Jeff Barr of Amazon outlines the value proposition:

Jeff Barr, Amazon WorkSpaces – Desktop Computing in the Cloud

WorkSpaces Feature Set
Amazon WorkSpaces provides, as I have already mentioned, a desktop computing experience in the cloud. It is easy to provision and maintain, and can be accessed from a wide variety of client devices.

Each WorkSpaces user can install the client application on the device of their choice. After a quick download, they have access to a complete Windows 7 experience in the cloud, with persistent storage, bundled utilities and productivity applications, and access to files and other resources on the corporate intranet.

The devices are provided with a full virtual Windows 7 desktop experience and all versions, ranging from $35 to $75 per month per user, include Microsoft Office Professional. This includes Outlook, Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Access, OneNote, and Publisher.

A virtual file store is mapped to the desktop’s D: drive, and Amazon offers a number of options for varying amounts of space.

For someone who is not spending 100% of their time creating and editing Office documents, a virtual desktop may be a very useful adjunct. Having a full Windows and Office environment available on the Kindle cuts off a lot of the appeal that Windows tablets might have.  And of course this undercuts Microsoft Office 365 and SkyDrive, which are necessary for people wanting to use Office on other tablets.

WorkSpaces running on a Kindle

Registration for the WorkSpaces limited preview is now open.

The Bottom Line 

Amazon continues its all-out assault on… well, everything and everybody. In this case, they are in one stroke reconfiguring the entire virtual desktop marketplace and repositioning the Kindle as a virtual business desktop, competing with iOS, Android, and Windows tablets. Since the desktop being virtualized is Windows, Microsoft — and its Surface and Nokia tablets, and Office 365 — is the ox being gored here.