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VMware Horizon 7.1 updates boost remote user experience

A host of new VMware Horizon 7.1 features add support for Microsoft's Skype for Business and aim to improve the remote user experience.

New features and updates in Horizon 7.1 aim to improve end-user experiences, including support for cloud-based and on-premises communications, interoperability with Microsoft services, and services for remote workers.

Here's a look at the three key updates in VMware Horizon 7.1: Blast Extreme Adaptive Transport, VMware Horizon Cloud and Instant Clone and Skype for Business.

Blast Extreme Adaptive Transport

Blast Extreme is a remote display protocol that enables end users to access virtual desktops through a web browser. Horizon 7.1 introduces Blast Extreme Adaptive Transport (BEAT) to improve situations in which there isn't a strong network connection. BEAT uses a collection of technologies that work across different network types to adjust the Blast protocol to network conditions, such as varying speeds or packet loss. BEAT is useful for remote workers who face low bandwidth or high latency issues.

There is no requirement for manual network analysis or complex configuration, as it occurs automatically with this upgrade. Blast Extreme supports more than 125 Linux and Windows thin clients as well as Mac, iOS, Android, Windows and Chrome.

VMware Horizon Cloud and Instant Clone

VMware Horizon Cloud is a new desktop-as-a-service offering that enables end users to deploy virtual desktops and applications in the cloud, on premises or in a hybrid environment.

Licenses start at $16 per user or $26 per concurrent connection. Users can pair the tool with either hosted infrastructure from VMware -- on IBM SoftLayer -- or bring their own infrastructure, such as Dell, Hitachi or QCT. This gives end users purchasing flexibility; one offering and one license cover both infrastructures in the cloud and on premises.

Horizon 7.1 also upgraded support for Instant Clones, which added three benefits.

1. The Instant Clone feature supports NVIDIA M-series cards, which enables admins to use Instant Clone desktop VMs for high-end workstation graphics. However, configuring PC over IP as the display protocol is just in technical preview.

2. Multi-Virtual LAN support allows IT teams to create a larger Instant Clone desktop pool. This is even possible if you divide the network into smaller groups and wouldn't normally support that many VMs.

3. Turning Maintenance Mode on in the ESXI hosts enables admins to perform maintenance on Instant Clone VMs. You can active Maintenance Mode through the vSphere Web Client. When a vSphere 6.0 Update 1 or newer host enters Maintenance Mode, the parent VMs power off and automatically delete. Instant Clones migrate to another host in the cluster.

Skype for Business

Horizon 7.1 also includes support for Skype for Business, teasing companies with possible benefits of the relationship between VMware and Microsoft. Even though it's just a tech preview, it's a feature that follows up on an announcement from VMworld Europe 2016. With this tech preview, VMware is catching up to Citrix, which had developed a Microsoft-specific plug-in. The tech preview for Skype for Business will only support on-premises Horizon 7.1 deployments.

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