A virtual desktop is a pre-configured desktop environment in which the operating system and applications it represents are separated from the physical hardware on which it runs. Users can access these desktops remotely through a network (including the internet) using any device they desire, such as a laptop, desktop, smartphone or tablet.
For the user the desktop operates in the same way as one that is installed on their local computer; the user experience is often better because the software it displays is run on powerful storage, processing and database hardware. Depending on how the desktop is implemented, users can also save changes to data and install new applications if required enabling them to work remotely. These type of virtualization is offered by cloud computing providers who host this functionality using a subscription payment scheme where they only pay for the resources they use.