Desktops Can Still Do It – Virtualization Isn’t the Answer to Everything

Run from desktops…we were told a couple of years ago. Desktop computers are old and antiquated…only people that “don’t get it” will keep them around. Go wireless or get laughed out of the tech conference.

But, we live in reality and there is still a place for them – as Miguel Guhlin has written about before. In my experience other options to run high-end applications just don’t work.

I inherited a virtualization project. The partner that helped with installation made a big deal out of it, like it was the wave of the future for schools with a 1:1 initiative. Honestly, I wasn’t much help in the project because of my lack of knowledge with the technology. Looking back, it couldn’t have gone any worse. I remember back in the day having some thin clients, but kids didn’t find them useful because you couldn’t us an old timey (now old timey) spining 3.5 inch floppy disk (this was 2003). So, I shouldn’t have been all that surprised that this didn’t work out.

On the surface it might seem to make sense – you’re buying cheap wireless devices that don’t have a lot of processing, so have host servers do the heavy lifting. What confused me the most through the whole process was teachers saying they were told that they could wirelessly run InDesign or SolidWorks…not problem.


I’ve learned enough networking on the job to be barely dangerous, but that claim made no sense to me.  30 computers on 1 AP trying to pull resources to run an application. I can’t show the detailed arithmetic outside of that, but the math doesn’t add up.

There was and continues to be a lot of buzz about outsourcing, virtualizing and going to the cloud, but I think ed tech needs to get back to some basic things that just flat work. Labs aren’t the wave of the future but, in some instances a good old desktop with locally installed programs is all that you need to do to meet your learning goals for the day.

Long live the desktop! Yes, it’s death was greatly exaggerated.

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