Amazon Web Services (AWS) has made its hosted virtual desktops, known as WorkSpaces, available in Europe.

Amazon's desktop-as-a-service offering was previously only available from US data centres in North Virginia and Oregon but the latest announcement means it is now being delivered through Amazon's Dublin data centres. 

Prior to the European expansion, enterprises outside of the US were welcome to evaluate the service, but if end users were located more than 2,000 miles from the two data centres then Amazon warned them that they may receive a less responsive experience.

The desktops are based on Windows Server 2008 R2 with RDS (Remote Desktop Services), which gives users an environment that is akin to Windows 7.

WorkSpaces desktops can be integrated with Microsoft's Active Directory so that your users can continue using their existing enterprise credentials. Otherwise, users have to sign in to WorkSpaces with a separate password. Once set up, users can connect to their new desktop from PCs, Macs, iPads and Android-based tablets, including Amazon's own Kindle Fire family, after installing dedicated client-side software. When users move between devices, they can continue where they left off.

There are four WorkSpaces bundles to choose between. The Standard and Standard Plus have one virtual CPU, 4.03GB of RAM and 50GB of storage, while the Performance and Performance Plus versions have two virtual CPUs, 8.05GB of RAM and 100GB of storage.  

Users in the UK and Europe are forced to pay for the service in US dollars as opposed to British Pounds or Euros. They cost $37, $52, $64 and $79 per month and user respectively, which is slightly more than US users are charged. 

Amazon WorkSpaces doesn't have any technical restrictions on the kind of software that companies can install on top of the desktops as long as they are compatible with the underlying OS.

VMware, a rival to AWS in the desktop-as-a-service market, offers a standard desktop with one virtual CPU, 2GB or RAM and 30GB of storage for $35 per month, and an advanced option with two virtual CPUs, 4GB of RAM and 30GB of storage for $50 per month.

Unlike Amazon, VMware lets users run Windows XP, 7 and 8, in addition to Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows Server 2012. The company also lets users access their hosted desktops from thin and so-called zero clients as well as smartphones and Google Chromebooks.

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