Microsoft Announces General Availability of Windows Virtual Desktop

Microsoft Announces General Availability of Windows Virtual Desktop

September 30, 2019 0 By Hoofer

By David Marshall

First announced last year at Microsoft Ignite and in preview mode since March, today, Microsoft has finally rolled out Windows Virtual Desktop as generally available worldwide.

Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) is Microsoft’s virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) or desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) solution that provides Windows 10 virtualization, along with multi-session Windows 10 capabilities and support for Windows Server RDS desktop and apps.  The service provides organizations with the ability to access applications remotely while running on top of Windows 7 or Windows 10-based client operating systems.  Those virtual machines run on Microsoft Azure.  And the service delivers Windows apps remotely on client machines running Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, and HTML5.

“Windows Virtual Desktop is the only service that delivers simplified management, a multi-session Windows 10 experience, optimizations for Office 365 ProPlus, and support for Windows Server Remote Desktop Services (RDS) desktops and apps,” said Microsoft in its announcement today. 

“Microsoft WVD will be successful because Microsoft themselves are committed to its success,” explained Tyler Rohrer, co-founder and Director Strategic Alliances, Liquidware, a Microsoft partner.  “Make no mistake, this is not just a new version of RDS on Azure.”

Want another reason to leverage WVD?  How about an extension on your Windows 7 desktop support?  That’s right, customers currently using and licensing Windows 7 as their desktop operating system should already know that Microsoft will officially end support (and security updates) after January 14, 2020.  However, with WVD and an eligible Windows 10 Enterprise or Microsoft 365 license, Microsoft said they will be extending security updates and support for Windows 7 in its virtualized format on Azure through January 2023, at no additional cost (beyond the Azure resources they consume, of course).

Microsoft has added other changes to help optimize the performance of its WVD service.  One of those key technologies is the roaming profile management solution which it acquired with the FSLogix acquisition it made about a year ago.  This technology saves a virtual disk file on Azure, and then subsequently will get attached to a session when an end user logs into the VDI service.  FSLogix gets rid of folder redirection, and virtually eliminates profile corruption and login storms.  The technology helps extend Microsoft’s virtualization capabilities and provides an even richer experience, enabling faster load times for user profiles. 

Microsoft also mentioned its “App Attach” technology which was designed for WVD.  App Attach enables MSIX-packaged applications to be stored outside a virtual machine, much like how FSLogix user profiles get stored, so that each application can attach itself when users need it.  Microsoft claims that App Attach goes beyond traditional app layering and app streaming approaches.  This is a key piece of Microsoft’s strategy coming from core changes made to Windows to separate user data, apps and the underlying operating system, and to support dynamic delivery.

According to Brad Anderson, Corporate Vice President for Microsoft 365, Microsoft has also worked closely with their partner ecosystem to help customers extend Windows Virtual Desktop and get the most out of existing virtualization investments.  How?  Anderson specified:

“Starting today, Citrix can extend Windows Virtual Desktop worldwide, including support for Windows 10 multi-session, Windows 7 with free Extended Security Updates for up to three years, and support for Windows Server 2008 R2 with free Extended Security Updates on Azure.

Later this year, VMware Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure will extend Windows Virtual Desktop and its benefits, such as Windows 10 Enterprise multi-session and support for Windows 7 with free Extended Security Updates for up to three years. Preview will be available by the end of the calendar year. 

We also engaged with hardware partners, system integrators (SI), who provide turnkey desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) offerings, and value-added solution providers, who add capabilities such as printing, application layering, assessment, and monitoring on Azure Marketplace. Learn more about Windows Virtual Desktop partners on the documentation page.”

“We’re proud to be working with Microsoft as the inagural WVD value added partner to offer enterprises with the best app delivery through FlexApp attachments from Azure, Migration and full UEM with ProfileUnity, and scalable User Experience monitoring with Stratusphere UX,” stated Rohrer.

Want to learn more?  Watch this video:

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About the Author

David Marshall is an industry recognized virtualization and cloud computing expert, an eleven time recipient of the VMware vExpert distinction, and has been heavily involved in the industry for the past 20+ years.  To help solve industry challenges, he co-founded and helped start several successful virtualization software companies such as ProTier, Surgient, Hyper9 and Vertiscale. He also spent a number of years transforming desktop virtualization while at Virtual Bridges.

David is an author of two very popular server virtualization books and the Technical Editor on Wiley’s “Virtualization for Dummies” and “VMware VI3 for Dummies” books.  David authored countless articles for a number of well known technical magazines, including: InfoWorld, Virtual-Strategy and TechTarget.  In 2004, he founded the oldest independent virtualization and cloud computing news site, VMblog.com, which he still operates today.

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