A US and Israel-based company, InstallFree, has launched the first of a series of virtualisation products designed to give IT managers an easier and more secure way to manage and deploy virtual applications.

With some analysts predicting that virtualisation is set to be the biggest driver in IT for several years, InstallFree earlier this week introduced a desktop management product for virtual applications, known as InstallFree Bridge.

The company says InstallFree Bridge allows "virtual applications to be 'packaged once to run anywhere' across a full range of computing scenarios including Windows XP or Vista 32-bit PCs as well as 64-bit and server‐based solutions such as Citrix XenApp, Windows Terminal Server and Windows‐based virtual machines."

The InstallFree Bridge does not need to be installed on the host computer in order to function. Instead it is simply downloaded to the host PC using a simple logon script.

"When the user logs on using the normal Windows log-in screen, the InstallFree Bridge connects to the Active Directory server and based on their login credentials, downloads the user's applications and settings for local processing and integration into the Host OS," said the company.

"We estimate a cost saving of approximately 35 percent to 45 percent when switching from an unmanaged desktop or laptop to InstallFree," said Yori Gabay, chief executive and co-founder in a statement. Gabay used a series of TCO studies by Gartner as the basis for his estimation.

InstallFree says that its technology gives IT managers an easy-to-use interface to centrally manage and deploy virtual applications. And it seems the ease-of-use claim is backed by analyst house IDC.

"InstallFree offers a solution that, for many organisations, can address the often incompatible give-and-take between IT and users by giving both constituents the freedom, ease of use and security they require," said Michael Rose, a virtualisation research analyst at IDC.

The company says that end-users can access their encrypted InstallFree Virtual (IFV) applications in any location, including at home, kiosks, airports, hotels and even locked down computers. IFV applications can apparently be accessed via the LAN, Internet, or USB storage device. This ability for end-users to roam and yet still access their own personalised settings, will likely appeal to companies with remote workers.

InstallFree Bridge is available in the UK via download from the website, and the company told Techworld that it will be "announcing a relationship with a major European reseller soon."

InstallFree Bridge is priced at $100 (£50) for a three-year licence, and 18 percent annual maintenance.

InstallFree Desktop meanwhile will be available later this year. This is a personalised virtual desktop environment that is centrally managed and deployed with user specific IFV applications.