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Over the last two weeks or so, I was on a business trip to London and Frankfurt. Upon arriving in London, my well padded ultrabook (the one I have written about previously here) turned on, and all I saw was horizontal and vertical streaks. Additionally, there was a big black crack in my screen. There was absolutely no physical damage on the outside. So perhaps the pressure of the plane, or the altitude at which we were flying did something to the screen.

That wasn’t so much my problem. My dearest girlfriend had her laptop, which survived the trip. My biggest problem was that I do not have any of my settings. I could use her laptop to access data, and do email, etc.

In fact, GMail, Neuralytix’s email platform and Google Chrome, our preferred browser performed as advertised when I logged onto my account. All my preferences were immediately loaded, and I could be minimally productive.

The problem was more about the fact that none of my Windows preferences were there. My corporate fonts were unavailable. My links and favorite folders were no longer favorites.

Over the course of the roughly 10 days I was out of commission (since my better half needed her laptop for her job), I found myself at internet kiosks and other make-shift end-clients. My Google Nexus 7 provided email, but I couldn’t do any heavy duty writing or publishing.

At that point, I realized that there were really two things I could have done:

  1. I could have P-to-V’d my laptop (physical to virtualized my laptop image) onto an external hard drive, and carried that around. There are specific issues with this. First, synchronizing the session across my multiple desktops, laptops, etc. is a royal PITA (pain-in-the-arse). Secondly, the whole idea about having a sub-3 pound laptop is the convenience and minimal weight of the device. Carrying an additional hard disk drive defeats that purpose and adds unnecessary weight to the problem. Not to mention, the hard disk interface (USB2.0) performs significantly slower than my solid state disk (SSD) drive connected directly to the motherboard;
  2. I could have leveraged desktop virtualization with a user virtualization platform (UVP) such as the one offered by AppSense. The key difference is that I would essentially carry my preferences with me (or download it from somewhere) and fire up a loaner laptop and have all of my preferences securely available.

Ultimately, the problems associated with mobile virtual desktop environment are a persistent internet connection and secure user environment restoration.

In my situation, even if I had just simply gone to Curry’s (the UK Best Buy/Frys), with Microsoft Office, I would have had to spend hours redeploying my preferences. A virtualized user session, or the realization of a virtualized user session would save hours of reconfiguration.

For what it’s worth (FWIW), HP’s response to my issue has been (to date) beyond expectations.