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Telecommunications company and cloud provider Telefónica said today it is buying eyeOS, an open-source desktop-virtualization startup based in Barcelona, Spain, that lets companies use the cloud to deliver business-class applications on employees’ laptops, mobile phones, and tablets.

eyeOS offers its own business apps — for email, messaging, and task management — but it also lets companies easily convert their heavy desktop apps for use in the cloud: It changes them from desktop-based Windows or Linux apps to HTML5 apps, which can then get delivered in an eyeOS cloud desktop.

As a result of the deal, Telefónica will be able to offer an open-source service for virtual desktops. Telefónica, based in Madrid but active globally, wants to target small and medium-sized businesses and the public sector. And it’s looking to sell eyeOS software in Spain and other countries.

Big tech vendors have been making plays lately around virtual desktops, which enable users to keep running the operating system they prefer on their devices while also setting up a second operating system through which to run applications, all streaming from the cloud.

Public-cloud market leader Amazon Web Services made its WorkSpaces virtual-desktop service generally available last week. In October VMware announced that it was buying Desktone, a desktop-as-a-service startup. Citrix has been offering more choices for the infrastructure from which customers can deploy cloud desktops. And Google is now working with VMware to bring virtual desktop capability to Chromebooks.

Companies like IBM, Mitsubishi Electric, NEC, Nexica, and Unisys use and partner with eyeOS. SAP uses eyeOS to make some of its applications available on cloud desktops.

The eyeOS headquarters and staff will remain in Barcelona. The startup opened in 2006 and raised 1 million Euros in funding in 2011. Investors included Inveready.


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