Amazon WorkSpaces Provides Windows 7 Desktops In The Cloud

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is expanding from its server-centric roots with a new desktop offering that allows companies to roll out cloud-hosted Windows 7 desktops, paid for on a per-user, per-month basis. Here's what you need to know.

WorkSpaces, which runs on Amazon EC2, was announced today, but is currently only in a limited preview ahead of an expected full rollout next year. WorkSpaces clients can be accessed on desktop machines, Android tablets and iPads, while IT pros can manage the system via a browser-based console.

All clients include Windows 7, as well as Firefox, Adobe Reader, the Java Runtime Environment and 7-Zip. Note the lack of Google Chrome, a potential annoyance given its popularity, though IT managers can apparently further customise the bundles.

The Standard Plus and Performance Plus bundles also include Microsoft Office 2010. Persistent storage is also provided on Amazon's S3 storage and mapped to Drive D: within Windows. Most bundles include just one virtual CPU, but the Performance Plus bundle includes.

Here's what you'll pay per month for the different variants:

Package # vCPUs Memory Storage Office Price
Standard 1 3.75GB 50GB No $US35
Standard Plus 1 3.75GB 50GB Yes $US50
Performance 1 3.75GB 100GB No $US60
Performance Plus 2 7.5GB 100GB Yes $US75

There's no long-term contract, so this could be useful for environments where workers are frequently added and removed.

From Amazon's description, this won't suit extremely large rollouts; you can sign up any number of users, but you can only provision five users at a time. Provisioning time is said to be around 20 minutes.

Sound tempting? Tell us what appeals (or horrifies) in the comments.

Amazon WorkSpaces


    There are certain use cases where it might be worth it, but the price is too high.

    The "Performance" package actually has 2 vCPUs and 7.5GiB of RAM much like the "Performance Plus" package - the only difference between the two is the inclusion of Office 2010.

    My biggest disappointment is the lack of latest versions of Microsoft Windows and Office.

    I'd also be interested to see if you can get reserved instance discounts.

    How did they get around Microsoft's licensing limitations of Windows 7 OS as a service?

    How well does RDP traffic handle in an office with 20 or more users? With most regional internet connections i'm not sure this would be usable compared to an in-house server? I mean I get the cost different in the short term and maybe long term, but you would have to spend that money on a better internet connection anyway.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now