App streaming or desktop virtualization: Which one is right for you?

Key Takeaways

  • App streaming is a process where end-point devices access virtualized apps from a remote server setup. The apps delivered are virtualized on a server.
  • Virtual desktops are VDI-based desktops that are equipped with specific configurations and operating systems. They have dedicated resources, applications, and user settings.
  • App streaming provides stand-alone applications, while virtual desktops offer dedicated desktop environments. Both have their own set of pros and cons. Companies must first define their requirements and then select between an app streaming solution and virtual desktop accordingly.

The corporate world experienced a lot of rapid transformations and challenges since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier, remote working was just a matter of convenience, but considering the current situation, it has become a necessity to ensure businesses keep running. Having said that, migrating the entire workforce to the work-from-home model is a challenge in itself and is easier said than done.

What businesses and enterprises need is a remote working solution that can facilitate business continuity while also maintaining peak productivity levels. There are several solutions already available in the market to cater to the individual requirements of the users, but before selecting one, it is important to consider what you want and your budget for it. For example, if you are a small business, you may only require stand-alone apps to carry out your business operations, while others may have to go for a complete desktop setup for their daily tasks.

Once enterprises have figured out their requirements, there are primarily two solutions they can opt for. They are app streaming and virtual desktops. The desktop virtualization and app virtualization spaces are witnessing a strong upward growth, which is expected to continue in the future. These solutions are offered as services by third-party providers, and opting for their services can help to reduce capital expenses and on-premise IT challenges. 

Let’s take a look at some of the basics of app streaming and virtual desktops that can help you select the solution that is right for your business.

Defining app streaming and virtual desktops

So, what is app streaming? It is the process where end-point devices access virtualized apps from a remote server setup. The apps to be delivered are virtualized on a server that can either be present on a remote data center or on-premise.

Virtual desktops, on the other hand, are VDI-based desktops that come equipped with specific configurations and operating systems. Virtual desktops are virtual machines that have dedicated resources, applications, and user settings.


Consider a traditional office scenario where multiple employees work. The applications that they work on and required for business are the same, but you have to install all of them on every desktop or computer system. The applications are bound by the OS as well. App virtualization involves creating virtual images of applications to be published on a server. Here, the apps are no longer attached to the operating system. The applications are separated from the underlying OS so that efficient application delivery can be ensured.

App streaming eases the process of application delivery on end-point devices. Every application consists of multiple blocks of code. A part of the code is installed on the end-point device, and the remaining part is streamed through protocols such as RTSP, or Real-Time Streaming Protocol. To work on these apps, the user has to install client software on the end-user device they will use to access the virtual apps. (In certain cases, streaming apps can be accessed directly from a browser, too, with no special software required on the end-user device.) Since the apps are streamed to a device and not installed on it, the operating system of the end-point device is typically not very important.

As for desktop virtualization, this means desktops that are hosted on a server or the cloud with the help of VDI technology. A management portal will enable the provisioning and management of the virtual desktops and also allow them to make changes to the desktop configuration as necessary.


App streaming is an excellent option, in terms of cost-efficiency, for businesses that need a limited number of applications. In the conventional approach, businesses would have to offer a dedicated desktop to their employees even if they need to work only on one application. But with application streaming, they can ask for only those apps that are required and get charged accordingly.

When compared to app streaming, the costs associated with a virtual desktop are higher because it offers a complete workspace solution. But having a virtual desktop is still cost-effective as businesses can cut down on the expenses of deploying an on-premise IT setup. Besides, virtual desktop providers typically offer their services according to pay-per-use pricing plans, where the charges incurred are only in accordance with the resources used.

Personalized Experience

App streaming only delivers you the applications necessary to perform your daily tasks. As users work with the same application, there is no scope for a personalized experience.

That’s not the case with virtual desktops. The complete desktop solutions offered by virtual desktop providers can be personalized according to user requirements. Virtual desktops can be persistent or non-persistent. Delivering a personalized experience is possible with a persistent virtual desktop.


The industry in which your business operates should also be considered when deciding whether to go for app streaming or desktop virtualization. App streaming can be suitable for businesses where employees depend on only one or two applications. An example of such a business could be a healthcare facility that uses a customer management application to handle and keep track of its clients.

However, if your business needs diverse apps like CRM software or the Microsoft Office suite, choosing a virtual desktop would be a good fit. The complete desktop solution it offers will help you work on any application without performance problems.


Both app streaming and virtual desktops are popular among enterprises looking for remote working solutions. App streaming provides stand-alone applications, while virtual desktops offer dedicated desktop environments. The one that will work the best for your organization will depend on your business requirements. So, it is crucial to analyze that before opting for an app streaming solution or a virtual desktop.


What is application streaming virtualization?

It is a software distribution system where users receive applications on-demand. In application streaming, the software is stored on a central server and packaged as information blocks called starter blocks, predictive blocks, and demand blocks. When the user launches the software application, starter blocks are sent to the user, which helps initialize the application and run the necessary components.

After that, the predictive blocks are sent, which are important for closing the application. Finally, demand blocks are software components that are sent only upon request as the need arises.

When should I use desktop virtualization?

Desktop virtualization will work the best for you in the following scenarios:

  • If your organization is dependent on several servers, hardware like laptops and networks, desktop virtualization can help to reduce the operating costs significantly.
  • Your business employs more people than traditional servers can manage.

If your business has to manage large server racks, you will need IT personnel and office space. By adopting desktop virtualization, your office space can be put to better use and the hardware costs can be reduced.



Anunta is an industry-recognized Managed Desktop as a Service provider focused on Enterprise DaaS (Anunta Desktop360), Packaged DaaS, and Digital Workspace technology. We have successfully migrated 600,000+ remote desktop users to the cloud for enhanced workforce productivity and superior end-user experience.