The Elite x3 have had a troubled launch, but with a sudden retail release last week; it looks like HP wants to keep the ball rolling.
The Elite x3 was announced in February this year, along with the phone HP also announced a new service called “Workspace.” HP wants to give you access to full-blown desktop apps built for the x86 architecture, but on your phones.
Of course, a phone cannot run a desktop application – phones are based on the ARM architecture. Therefore they can’t execute x86 code on a hardware level. There are some who dare to pack an Intel Atom chip into the size of your palm, but not many succeed with that idea.
HP thought of something different – Workspace is a cloud-based service, that would stream desktop applications to your phone via the internet. The actual application is running on a virtualized machine somewhere in the cloud, but you can use it as if it was running on your phone.
The idea isn’t new – in fact, the idea has been tried and tested in the past few years – HP isn’t first company streaming live applications over the Internet; it is, however, one of the first few offerings designed for the enterprise.
One of the major issue with phones is the screen size – a desktop application isn’t designed for a 5-inch screen; therefore, it doesn’t scale very well for it. However, with Windows 10 Mobile’s Continuum feature you can dock your phone to an actual desktop monitor and use it with a larger screen.
This is where the problem lies as well – you are getting the full desktop interface with Continuum, but the interface is still running on your phone’s ARM processor – you still can’t run an x86 desktop application. Workspace would allow you to stream that application over the Internet, solving one of Microsoft’s major tech hurdles.
Availability & Pricing
HP’s Workspace app for the phone isn’t limited to the Elite x3 devices – you can run the app, and use the service on any Continuum-enabled Windows 10 Mobile device, as long as you have an Internet connection. Not tying the service to a particular device is good – it allows HP to target a larger user base, especially when the Windows 10 Mobile market share is already pretty small.
Those who bought the “Elite x3 bundle”, however, do get a 60-day trial for service. Now – here comes the bit that hurts: pricing.
The lowest tier HP is offering for a Workspace subscription costs $48 per user per month – or $579 per user per year – but here’s the problem: it only gives each user 40 hours of use per month.
This tier also limits you to 4 GB of RAM, and you can only run ten applications at the same time.
The “premium” tier, will give your employees 80 hours of use per month, but the cost goes up as well, with $78 per user per month – or $939 per user per year. The premium tier also lets you run unlimited applications at the same time, with 8 GB of RAM.
Additionally, HP is also selling a secure VPN service for $2,995 per year – not per user, but still pretty expensive.
Though since this service is targeted towards enterprise, these prices might not be too high for a company.