Amazon tweaks AppStream to ease Windows app streaming

Amazon Web Services has updated its AppStream service so developers can set up Windows apps to stream down to mobile devices more easily.

Amazon AppStream, announced a year ago, makes use of AWS’s muscular Nvidia GPUs and STX streaming protocol to speed up the often sluggish performance of desktop apps running on mobile devices. AppStream offloads the number-crunching heavy lifting of AutoCAD or other graphics-heavy applications so they can run on small devices without a ton of lag time, according to the company.

Before now, to use AppStream, the developer had to futz with Microsoft’s DirectX rendering library. That apparently is no longer the case. According to a blog post by AWS evangelist Jeff Barr:

You can now stream just about any existing Microsoft Windows application without having to make any code changes. You simply step through a simple installation and configuration process using the AWS Management Console. Once you’ve completed the process, your users can begin to use the application.

Some clarification is needed about what “just about any existing Windows application” means, given that many of these apps are now well over 20 years old. I’ve asked about that and will update this report as needed.

An Amazon spokeswoman said via email:

 We have always supported Windows apps, but before yesterday, a development team would need to integrate it with our SDK.  We heard from our customers that this was not desirable, as many were trying to deploy old apps for which they no longer had the source code.  Now, with the new deployment GUI (basically, an [remote desktop protocol] session to the host server), anyone – even non-technical folks – can start streaming apps with AppStream.

AppStream is part of a growing array of AWS services meant to appeal to bigger business users as opposed to born-to-the-web startups.

Check out the video below for a quick look at AppStream.


Note: This report was updated at 8:17 a.m. PST with an AWS spokeswoman’s comment.