At the New Innovators both at VMworld 2008 was an interesting small booth from ThinLaunch, which was manned by three of the four people in the company. I had a short pow-wow with two of the folks there and came away with mixed feelings. The product, for which the company is named, appears to fulfill a couple of interesting needs, the first being IT shops that want to pilot virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) but don’t want to invest beyond the server room, and the second being smaller businesses that have server virtualization capacity to devote to hosting clients but have been loathe to rip and replace their thick clients with new thin hardware. I’m not too wowed by the product but I can see where it may be useful. That said, I was royally unimpressed with the technology.
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ThinLaunch can be cobbled together with a few Group Policy object edits in Active Directory without buying the product. Simply replace the shell with whatever VDI launcher (or other application) you want. Microsoft tells you how to do it here. True, ThinLaunch then monitors this process if it crashes and can automatically restart it, but this is also something that can be managed with an application or by copying the code from this site.
ThinLaunch is available as an MSI package, meaning it’s very easy to deploy via Group Policy. Then again, Group Policies are even easier to deploy via group policy. Duh. ThinLaunch requires .NET 2.0. and GPOs don’t. ThinLaunch supports Windows 2000 through Vista and 2K8. GPOs do too.
I can see the need for this package and I can even see some large enterprise customers who’d want a packaged application to handle the conversion of legacy desktops. I can even see using the product in small businesses with virtualization already in place but a lot of legacy desktops and a lack of cash. What I can’t see is how it’s innovative in its approach.
Sorry, ThinLaunch, but you get three out of ten pokers — there’s just nothing hot there.