Hosted desktop pioneer Nivio has taken an undisclosed investment from AMD to help it work on its ambition of making virtual Windows XP desktops and software accessible from any connected device - even a Linux PC or a smartphone.

The Nivio service uses virtualisation to provide users with a virtual PC, which they can configure and even synchronise with their own PC, if they have one. The virtual PCs are hosted on AMD servers at datacentres in Geneva and New Delhi, and streamed out over broadband.

Nivio says it can stream a Windows XP desktop, complete with applications, to any device with a compatible web browser. Software - including Adobe and Microsoft applications - can be rented by the month, so users don't have to purchase a package that's only needed for the duration of a short project, said the company's founder Sachin Duggal.

Like virtual desktop approaches such as Citrix and VDI, it means users can get access to the latest applications on a device that can't run that software itself, but can act as a kind of VDU or thin client. That could mean a PC running Linux or an older version of Windows, or perhaps a lightweight device such as OLPC - the One Laptop Per Child project.

The Nivio service is currently in private beta-testing mode, but has already proven popular with Indian students who don't own PCs but do have access to Internet cafes, Duggal said. He added that the AMD investment should help it go public within the next few months.

"We've already received significant positive feedback following the private beta and feel that this announcement is testament to the hard work the team has put in over the last 18 months," he said. "Nivio is a simple idea in theory, yet we believe its impact could be huge."

Giuseppe Amato, AMD's European technical sales and marketing director, said that the investment was part of his company's 50x15 Initiative, which aims to bring Internet & IT access to 50 percent of the world's population by 2015.

"That initiative needs enabling technology, and we see Nivio helping by moving the complexity from the user back to the server," he added.

Duggal said that Nivio is also developing a simplified user interface which could be overlaid for use on small client devices. "The aim is for our UI to be as easy to use as a mobile phone, but you can also click out of it to the standard XP desktop," he added.