How to Get Windows Applications to Users

Last Updated:
April 11, 2024

How to Get Windows Applications to Users

Windows® applications (also called “apps”) are software programs written to run on the Microsoft® Windows operating system.

There are a variety of ways for Windows ISVs to make Windows apps available to customers:

  • The customer runs the app locally.
  • The ISV publishes the application(s) without using Microsoft Remote Desktop Services (RDS) and shares with customers.
  • The ISV delivers the application using Microsoft RDS.
  • The ISV delivers the application as part of a virtual desktop (VDI).

Running Windows Applications Locally

Windows apps are installed and run on end users’ devices (i.e., locally). Users have autonomy over the device and the application. While this approach is very user-friendly, when users utilize Windows apps installed on their device it creates issues for an ISV.

  • Licenses have to be updated on each device, which can be time-consuming and painful.
  • If the user wants to run the application on multiple devices, he may have to buy, install, and update the app on each device.
  • Users who run applications with high processing needs (for example, graphics apps) may need a device with more processing power, which can constrain the ISV’s total addressable market or force the customer to purchase a more powerful (and expensive) machine in order to use the app.
  • The data generated when using a Windows app is saved on the local device, not securely stored and backed up in the ISV’s data center, and could be lost forever due to user error, security breach, or device damage or loss—making customer support difficult or impossible for the ISV.
  • ISV help desks supporting users running local apps receive more help requests and must deal with each individually.

Windows Application Publishing without RDS

Published Windows applications are virtual software programs that look and act like local applications but are actually running on a server. A Windows ISV can set up published application access on the user’s device so that the user accesses and launches a published application the same way that they would a local application, which makes this a user-friendly approach that’s also good for a Windows ISV.

  • Published Windows applications look and feel like local applications, so customers are more comfortable using them.
  • Unlike local apps, the ISV retains complete publishing control and optimal visibility into how the application is being utilized.
  • Apps can be updated on the server, not on individual devices, saving money and time and reducing helpdesk calls.
  • Published apps can be run on multiple devices without installing the app on each device, allowing ISV customers to use the device that works best for their situation.
  • Since applications are run on the server, users’ devices do not need to have substantial processing power, even for apps that require it. Additionally, published Windows apps can run on non-Windows devices, allowing an ISV to accommodate users who want to use a variety of devices to do their work.
  • The data generated when using the app is centrally saved and backed up, providing an ISV with considerably more control of those assets—and more peace of mind.
  • Most app issues can be solved at the server level, reducing helpdesk calls and keeping customers more productive.

GO-Global is the only Windows application publishing solution providing multi-user access to Windows applications from any location, device, and operating system without using Microsoft RDS. Instead, GO-Global fully replaces RDS functionality, including multi-session kernel, Remote Desktop clients, display driver, protocol, internet gateway and management tools, eliminating Windows and unnecessary user licensing costs.  

Because GO-Global does not use Windows, applications published using GO-Global require less IT implementation and management effort, scale more economically, and provide users with a web-native experience on any device with a browser. Browser-based user access does not require installation of a client on a user’s device, making it easier to enable and support users with non-Windows devices.

Application Delivery Using RDS

 Microsoft Remote Desktop Services is a component of Windows that allows a user to initiate and control an interactive session on a remote computer over a network connection. RDS lets ISVs deliver individual virtualized applications and provide customers with the ability to run their applications from the cloud. RDS is Microsoft's implementation of thin client architecture, where Windows software, and the entire desktop of the computer running RDS, are made accessible to any remote client machine that supports Microsoft Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP). 

Delivering virtual applications using RDS has the same benefits listed above in the Windows Application Publishing without RDS section. However, there are some disadvantages to using RDS for application delivery:

  • Microsoft requires that the ISV purchase user licenses (one per named user or one per device) in addition to Windows to deliver virtual applications to users, adding additional costs for ISVs versus GO-Global.
  • GO-Global ISV customers moving from RDS to GO-Global tell us that GO-Global works so efficiently in comparison to RDS that they can accommodate twice as many users on the same servers that were used with RDS, and apps that need higher CPU to run provide a great user experience when using GO-Global for application delivery.
  • GO-Global ISV customers moving from RDS to GO-Global also tell us that using GO-Global to publish Windows applications reduced their system administration time by 50% compared to RDS.

VDI Delivery of Windows Applications

In a VDI (Virtual Desktop Interface) scenario, desktop environments (preconfigured images of the Windows OS and applications) are hosted on a centralized server and deployed to customers on request via a corporate network or internet connection. So, instead of sharing applications only, like GO-Global and Microsoft RDS, with VDI the user interacts with the operating system and its applications as if they were running locally on their device.

This approach provides benefits for ISVs that are similar to application publishing—see the benefits listed above in the Windows Application Publishing without RDS section. Additionally, with VDI, virtual desktops can be configured with more processing power for users that need it.

There are some challenges with VDI that application publishing doesn’t share:

  • VDI requires more software components than application publishing and enables different types and levels of server resource allocation, which makes it more complex to implement and run. Additionally, VDI requires a hypervisor to create and run a VM.
  • VDI is more expensive than application publishing. Implementing VDI requires a high up-front cost in software and hardware, plus the personnel needed to plan and execute an implementation.
  • VDI takes months—even years in some scenarios—to plan and implement.
  • Implementing, rolling out, and managing a VDI implementation requires a special skillset that can be hard to find. Also, personnel with that skillset can command more compensation than an IT admin managing an application publishing implementation.

Which Windows Application Delivery is Best for ISVs?

VDI is best applied to the enterprise that wants to standardize and control employees’ computing environments. Since most Windows ISVs need to deliver applications to customers, not a complete desktop, VDI maybe overkill. VDI is substantially more complex and expensive than application publishing, and planning and implementation is a lengthy process, requiring specialized and expensive skills before, during, and after implementation.

For most Windows ISVs, application publishing offers the best blend of user-friendliness for customers and centralized control for the ISV. For ISVs that want to maximize server and personnel resources and avoid overpaying for user licenses, GO-Global is the best choice for Windows application publishing.

To learn more about GO-Global, request a demo here or download a free 30-day trial.