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Read all about it: VMware® Horizon View™ 5.3

by Pat Lee, Director of Product Management, VMware End-User Computing

On behalf of everyone at VMware End-User Computing, I’m proud to bring to you an exciting product announcement from EUC, just in time for VMworld Europe!

Now, you may be wondering—Horizon View 5.3? Wasn’t there just a 5.2? Isn’t 5.3 just a minor release? Perhaps this is true by the standards of release numbering, but it is so much more in the context of the work we’ve done and the features we’re delivering.

There’s a treasure trove of value to be found here. We’re talking about things like full workstation class user experience with high-performance 3D graphics, enhanced abilities to access virtual desktops from any HTML5-capable web browser, a beautiful new iOS 7 client, as well as a completely rewritten Windows client with support for Windows 8.1.  As if all of that weren’t enough already—we’re providing a brand new way to use Horizon View in Desktop-as-a-Service deployments using View Direct Connect. And one more thing: support for deploying Windows Server 2008 as a desktop.

So, without further adieu, we’re proud to highlight some of the awesome new features and capabilities you’re soon to be seeing with the forthcoming release of Horizon View 5.3.

Here are some additional details on what’s in store…

Richer User Experience

vDGA delivers high performance 3D workstation graphics for VDI

Running the highest end 3D graphics applications has been the holy grail for VDI. Today, Horizon View 5.3 delivers high end 3D applications with vDGA direct passthrough graphics support of NVIDIA GRID GPUs.

vDGA is built on VMware’s DirectPath I/O and NVIDIA’s GRID SDK to enable use of high performance NVIDIA GRID GPUs with Horizon View virtual machines.  You have full access to the native NVIDIA drivers for the latest DirectX, OpenGL and CUDA support.

Run the latest high end 3D applications for 3D CAD/CAM design, media & entertainment, oil & gas exploration, and many others while also leveraging the high performance, security and remote access benefits that Horizon View is well known for.

Multimedia Redirection for Windows 7 desktops

Customers using Windows 7 desktops with Horizon View can now leverage multimedia redirection for video playback.  Multimedia redirection provides a smoother video playback experience, lowers bandwidth usage substantially and improves server scalability for customers.

With this initial release, customers using Windows Media Player to play H264 encoded video will be able to use multimedia redirection when connecting from a Windows client.  The client endpoint must have a GPU capable of decoding H264 encoded video.  Other video formats and containers, such as Flash and Windows Media Video (WMV) are already being considered for future releases.

Real-Time Audio-Video for Linux clients

Many customers were excited about the Real-Time Audio-Video feature released for Windows clients and naturally asked for additional client support.  With the new View 2.2 client, customers now have access to the Real-Time Audio-Video feature when using Linux clients.

To recap, the Real-Time Audio-Video feature optimizes the delivery of webcam and microphone traffic for Horizon View desktops.  By encoding and compressing audio and video using standardized codecs, the upstream bandwidth is reduced to as low as 300kbps for webcam traffic.  The benefit that the Real-Time Audio-Video feature provides to customers is broader application support with microphones and webcams, improved end-user experience, and support for more users over the same network link.

Even Lower TCO

New Datastore storage overcommit policy

Horizon View 5.3 introduces a new storage overcommit policy known as “unbounded” overcommit. This policy provides the flexibility of placing a large number of linked clone virtual machines on the selected datastore.

View Composer API for Array Integration (VCAI) Support

Horizon View 5.3 removes the tech preview designation of VCAI and makes it generally supported for specific partner storage technologies. Thanks to our design partner Hitachi Data Systems who worked with us to successfully test and certify their NAS-capable storage system with Horizon View 5.3.

VSAN Tech Preview

View 5.3 introduces the use of Virtual SAN (vSphere 5.5) beta as a tech preview feature. Customers can try to use VSAN as the storage backend for Horizon View 5.3 based VDI deployments and experience first hand the simplicity, performance and TCO benefits of the integrated solution.

Operating System Choice, Enable Desktop-as-a-Service and More

Leverage the latest from Microsoft with Support for Windows 8.1 Based Desktops

It’s fair to say that Windows 8 hasn’t yet set the world on fire when it comes to enterprise adoption.  However, many organizations have been holding off until the new equivalent of “SP1” comes out.  Well, Windows 8.1 is upon us, so many folks will want to kick the tires, and for the first time really take the new stuff seriously.  Horizon View 5.3 with vSphere 5.5 are there for you in this exploration with support for Microsoft Windows 8.1. It’s ready for you to play with, pilot or roll into production.  Enjoy!

Lower costs by using Windows Server 2008 as a desktop

There are lots of reason to use a standard Windows Client OS like Windows 7, 8 or 8.1.  But there are also times when the licensing terms for these flavors of Windows can prove limiting for some VDI deployments: VDA subscriptions can be challenging to track, let alone pay for, and would be DaaS service providers cannot legally resell access to a client flavor of Windows – would be DaaS customers have to bring their own license – which can be cumbersome.

With Horizon View 5.3, we add support for running Windows Server 2008 R2 as a standalone virtual desktop.  This isn’t to be confused with RDS – each user still gets their own dedicated virtual machine and all the power & benefits associated with that.  But Windows Server 2008 instances can be reskinned to pretty much look and feel just like a Windows 7 desktop.  So you get the same basic experience, but with a different set of Windows licensing terms.

VMware of course doesn’t make a practice of advising on the specific ins and outs of Microsoft Windows licensing – consult with your local expert on that.  But with this addition, ALL Horizon View 5.3 customers, those with private cloud deployments AND those consuming from a public/hybrid-cloud service provider, will have greater flexibility and choice in how a VDI deployment is properly licensed with our friends up in Redmond.

Better Branch Office Deployments with View Agent Direct Connection Plugin

This is an interesting one that has been stealthily out there for almost a year now.  To enable partners like Dell and Navisite to deploy public cloud DaaS offerings using the combination of VMware Horizon View and Desktone by VMware technologies, we created a special extension for the Horizon View Agent called the Horizon View Agent Direct Connection Plugin.  This plugin allows a Horizon View Client to connect and authenticate DIRECTLY to a virtual desktop – bypassing the standard Horizon View Connection Server all together.  This enabled creative architectures for DaaS service providers, and by including this technology as part of all Horizon View purchases, VMware will enable more creative Horizon View deployments in the cloud.

However, why should someone other than a service provider care about this technology?  Simple!  Remote Office/Branch Office (aka ROBO) deployments!  Particularly with all the great new partner technologies for ROBO deployments of View from the likes of Cisco, Riverbed and others, more and more folks are overcoming the challenges of poor network connectivity to a datacenter by running virtual desktops on ESXi-based appliances in the branch.  Historically though, unless you also placed a Connection Server in the branch too, you couldn’t get your clients to establish new connections to desktops if the uplink to the datacenter went down.  With the View Agent Direct Connection Plugin, you can still manage your virtual desktops centrally from the datacenter, but put their runtime AND connectivity all in the branch.  Simple network routing rules can be used to direct users or clients to their branch desktop of choice, and connections can still take place even if the network connection up to the mother ship is offline for a while.  Historically DaaS focused technologies bring great new architectural possibilities for robust ROBO deployments!

Access Your Desktop from Device You Want To Use

HTML Access Brings Love for ChromeBooks and Better Performance for All  

We are excited about the new HTML Access feature included with the Horizon View 5.3 Feature Pack. HTML Access runs on all major browsers, including Chrome on ChromeBooks and provides zero install access to your View desktop. HTML Access now supports audio playback, so users can watch videos or listen to audio files on the virtual desktop. We have also added text copy and paste from the local system to the View desktop, as well as full screen viewing and optimizations for high resolution displays on ChromeBook Pixel and retina MacBook Pro. Under the covers, we’ve been able to cut CPU requirements, especially for video playback.

New iOS Client Optimized for iOS 7

We are excited about iOS 7 and the opportunities it brings for developers. The new Horizon View Client is optimized for iOS 7 and looks great across the board. Unity Touch now feels at home on iOS 7 and still makes it easy to open files and launch Windows applications all from an iOS native menu.

New Windows Client With Support for Windows 8.1

With this release, VMware is also introducing a completely rewritten version of the VMware Horizon View Client for Windows. The new Horizon View Client for Windows now supports Windows 8.1. The user interface has been updated to match the other Horizon View clients, giving end users a more uniform experience across platforms. The new Windows client supports all the same features as our previous client, including USB redirection, printer redirection, smartcard authentication and command line support. The new client is more flexible and modern, enabling VMware to roll out the innovations we have planned as we move into 2014.

We are excited about VMware Horizon View 5.3 and hope you are as well. Stay tuned for the latest information on when you can download Horizon View 5.3 and deploy in your environment.

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