Windows Virtual Desktop Now Available in Azure

Windows Virtual Desktop is a desktop and app virtualization service that runs on the cloud.

Windows Virtual Desktop is a comprehensive desktop and app virtualization service running in the cloud. It’s the only virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) that delivers simplified management, multi-session Windows 10 deployment, optimizations for Office 365 ProPlus, and support for Remote Desktop Services (RDS) environments.

Here’s what you can do when you run Windows Virtual Desktop on Azure:

  • Set up a multi-session Windows 10 deployment that delivers a full Windows 10 experience with scalability
  • Virtualize Office 365 ProPlus and optimize it to run in multi-user virtual scenarios
  • Provide Windows 7 virtual desktops with free Extended Security Updates
  • Bring your existing Remote Desktop Services (RDS) and Windows Server desktops and apps to any computer
  • Virtualize both desktops and apps
  • Manage Windows 10, Windows Server, and Windows 7 desktops and apps with a unified management experience
  • Deploy and scale your Windows desktops and apps on Azure in minutes, and get built-in security and compliance features


Who Should Use Virtual Desktops?

Types of users and their needs:

  • Kiosk Users (i.e. customers): This is the perfect place to deploy a virtual desktop that connects to a non-secure network. It allows functionality without credential access.
  • Task Workers (i.e. receptionist, call center, etc.): Critical data and business functions from these roles do not require remote or mobile connections, yet it is essential for them to be able to reboot a failed desktop quickly. VDI allows this.
  • Knowledge Workers (i.e. sales representatives, executives, etc.): RDSH is usually the best option for this type of worker. It enables out-of-office productivity.
  • Power Users (i.e. code or graphics developers, audio or video producers, etc.): A virtual desktop is ideal for power users who want to be able to use their preferred apps from producing and programming, yet still need to be able to connect to the company network. They can use this service to accomplish both on the same device.


Specific purposes for virtual desktop use:

  • Security and regulation: Allows employees to work remotely without storing company information on their personal device.
  • Financial services: Enables data separation so that information stays on the server rather than the endpoint.
  • Healthcare: Ensures optimal HIPAA compliance.
  • Government: Provides additional data security and is easier to implement with the government’s more elastic workforce.
  • Mergers and acquisitions: Allows companies to have easier access to each other’s infrastructure as they collaborate to merge their assets.
  • Short term employees, contractors, and partners: Companies can provide access to their network without device provision.
  • BYOD policies and mobile access: There is access and additional security for workforce members who prefer to use Android and iOS devices.
  • Hotelling call centers: They provide network access for workforces that are moving from desk to desk.
  • Branch workers: Specialized workloads can be created for employees at different branches.
  • Design and engineering: Instead of depending on high-powered workstations, these employees can now use N series VMS. This means for intensive applications there will be a dedicated GPU inside of the virtualized environment.
  • Legacy applications: Legacy LOB applications can be containerized. These old applications that block upgrades from Windows 10 can be virtualized with the user treating the virtualized session as its own application.
  • Software development testing: Instead of having to set up entire machines to test on, developers can put any number of machines in the virtual environment, saving time and money.


What operating systems does Windows Virtual Desktop support?

Windows Virtual Desktop supports Windows 10 multi-session, Windows 10 single-session, Windows 7 single-session, and Windows Server 2012 R2 and newer operating systems.

How do partners add value to Windows Virtual Desktop?

Partners such as Citrix and VMware will deploy integrate and build on the Windows Virtual Desktop capabilities. Microsoft Cloud Solution Providers will offer Windows Virtual Desktop to their customers. Software and service providers will offer targeted solutions in the Azure Marketplace.

How do I access and pay for Windows Virtual Desktop?

Access Windows 10 Enterprise and Windows 7 Enterprise at no additional cost if you have an eligible Windows 10 Enterprise or Microsoft 365 license. Access desktops powered by Windows Server Remote Desktop Services at no additional cost if you’re an eligible Microsoft Remote Desktop Services (RDS) Client Access License (CAL) customer. You pay only for the Azure compute, storage, and networking associated with the virtual machines you use in your environment. Take advantage of options such as one-year or three-year Azure Reserved Virtual Machine Instances, which can save you up to 72 percent versus pay-as-you-go pricing. Reserved Virtual Machine Instances are flexible and can easily be exchanged or returned.


There are a few things needed to set up Windows Virtual Desktop and successfully connect users to their Windows desktops and applications.

Microsoft will add support for the following Operating Systems, so users need to use the appropriate licenses based on the desktop and apps they plan to deploy:

OS Required license
Windows 10 Enterprise multi-session or Windows 10 Enterprise Microsoft 365 E3, E5, A3, A5, F1, Business
Windows E3, E5, A3, A5
Windows 7 Enterprise Microsoft 365 E3, E5, A3, A5, F1, Business
Windows E3, E5, A3, A5
Windows Server 2012 R2, 2016, 2019 RDS Client Access License (CAL) with Software Assurance

Your infrastructure needs the following things to support Windows Virtual Desktop:

  • An Azure Active Directory
  • A Windows Server Active Directory in sync with Azure Active Directory. This can be enabled through:
    • Azure AD Connect
    • Azure AD Domain Services
  • An Azure subscription, containing a virtual network that either contains or is connected to the Windows Server Active Directory


For optimal performance, make sure your network meets the following requirements:

  • Round-trip (RTT) latency from the client’s network to the Azure region where host pools have been deployed should be less than 150 ms.
  • Network traffic may flow outside country/region borders when VMs that host desktops and apps connect to the management service.
  • To optimize for network performance, we recommend that the session host’s VMs are collocated in the same Azure region as the management service.


Supported Remote Desktop clients

The following Remote Desktop clients support Windows Virtual Desktop:


Supported virtual machine OS images

Windows Virtual Desktop supports the following OS images:

  • Windows 10 Enterprise multi-session
  • Windows 10 Enterprise
  • Windows 7 Enterprise
  • Windows Server 2019
  • Windows Server 2016
  • Windows Server 2012 R2

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