Image: VMware

VMware has announced something it said Samsung DeX users have been requesting for a long time: support for dual-screen VMware Horizon virtual desktops.

“Connected to an external monitor, flagship Samsung Galaxy devices (phones and tablets) can now use the device’s display as a secondary screen just as a PC has been able to provide, powered by VMware’s Horizon and Workspace ONE,” VMware said in its announcement.

Samsung DeX began life in 2017 as a way for Galaxy smartphones and tablets to mirror their displays onto an external monitor. Since then DeX has changed in several ways, including the addition of wireless capabilities for PC, Mac and TVs.

One thing that Samsung DeX lacked, until this announcement, was the ability to actually be a dual-screen Windows desktop environment. VMware has closed that functionality hole by using existing DeX dual-mode functions and APIs to add keyboard and mouse support for both the monitor and device screen.

In addition to being able to run VMware Horizon Windows instances, Android smartphone functionality is retained. Users can still open Android apps, which appear windowed, so email, phone calls, text messages and other unified communications features are retained while using VMware on DeX.

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For those unfamiliar with VMware’s offerings, VMware Horizon is the virtual desktop interface, whereas VMware Workspace ONE is a suite that includes Horizon, as well as identity and access management tools. The new DeX features are integrated into Horizon and are a part of Workspace ONE, so VMware customers should be able to use it no matter which service they have.

How to use VMware with Samsung DeX

According to Samsung, “DeX is available on Galaxy S9, S10, S20, S21, Note8, Note9, Note10, Note 20, and Z Fold series phones, and Galaxy Tab S4, S5e, S6, and S7 series tablets,” as well as the Tab Active 3 and Pro. So, if you have one of those and are a VMware customer, you’re in luck.

You’ll need to have the VMware Horizon Client app for Android installed on your Samsung DeX-capable device, so be sure you have that done prior to trying it out.

VMware said that Horizon treats DeX-capable devices as thin clients when in Horizon DeX desktop mode, so it may be a good idea to see what VMware has to say about using Horizon on an Android thin client, too.

VMware has also published a documentation page about using Horizon and DeX that includes a few notable restrictions, namely that there’s a problem switching input languages that spells trouble for multilingual professionals: “To switch the language input method in a remote desktop, you can use the language switch key on a Samsung physical keyboard.” So, if you don’t have a Samsung hardware keyboard you’re stuck with a single language input.

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Despite that restriction, VMware Horizon and Samsung DeX integration mean that remote work doesn’t even require a laptop, or a company-owned device to be secure.

“Using Horizon on DeX, companies can offer a more secure and fully powered desktop experience through a mobile device without a complicated deployment, even when traditional PCs are unavailable,” said Soon Kon Kim, VMware director of strategic technology in VMware’s strategic ecosystem and industry solution group.