Windows Virtual Desktop Review

During the last two months Ι am using Windows Virtual Desktop for my primary workstation.So, I think that it is an opportunity to share my thoughts with you about this product at the article below.

What exactly is Windows Virtual Desktop ?

Windows Virtual Desktop is a desktop and app virtualization service that runs on the cloud.More specifically we can deliver to the end users a full desktop experience (personal or pooled , we will analyze this later) or specific applications that will run virtual on Azure.

What is the main difference between Windows Virtual Desktop and Remote Desktop Services (RDS) ? Is there a good reason for migration?

A lot of Companies were using RDS to deliver a virtual desktop infrastructure (vdi) or virtual applications. Of course you will find a lot of comparisons with pros and cons but I think that there are two main reasons for these companies to start thinking the migration:

  1. Operating System – You can now use Windows 10
  2. Service Management – It is a PaaS offered by Microsoft.

How can I start using Widows Virtual Desktop ?

It depends from your current infrastructure. Active Directory and Azure Active Directory are required for a Windows Virtual Desktop deployment. There are two main cases:

  1. You have an on-premises domain – So you have to sync your users with AD Connect and extend your domain to Azure
  2. You have only Office 365 users – So you can use Azure AD DS to sync your users

This can change according to your infrastructure and requirements, there are many solutions and different setups which you can proceed.We will not analyze those at this article.

What about licenses and subscriptions?

You will need an Azure subscription and one of the following licenses for each user:

Microsoft 365 E3, E5, A3, A5, F3, Business Premium
Windows E3, E5, A3, A5

What the available images options?

You can use the following operating systems:

  • Windows 10 Enterprise multi-session, version 1809 or later
  • Windows 10 Enterprise, version 1809 or later
  • Windows 7 Enterprise
  • Windows Server 2019
  • Windows Server 2016
  • Windows Server 2012 R2

But we will focus on Windows 10 and these two image options:

  1. Windows 10 Multi-Session (Pooled) – More than one users will join to one Virtual machine
  2. Windows 10 Single Session (Personal) – Only one user will join to the virtual machine

There is of course and the custom image option in case that you want.

After the initial setup, how can I manage my Infrastructure?

As we have already mentioned Windows Virtual Desktop is a Platform as a Service. So we have to care only about our virtual machines and not for the availability of the initial service.

We have to manage two things:

  1. Virtual machines and Application deployments,assignments etc – Using Azure portal with Windows Virtual Desktop service
  2. Virtual machines operating system,security,policies etc – Traditional Group policies or Intune in case that our virtual machines are Hybrid Joined

What about the local printers,USB devices , microphone and camera ?

You can use the Azure portal to enable the redirection of all these devices,you can print browse your drives and join meetings with audio and video normally.

More specifically about audio and video,audio is very good with no delays.For the video I recommend to use Remote Desktop WebRTC Service in order to have the same results.

How can users join the virtual desktop or Apps? Do I have to open ports in Public? What platforms are supported?

Of course not, every user can access the available resources through the Web or the Remote Desktop Client.The client is available on Windows,Mac,iOS and Android.

After the user logs in to the client the available resources will showed up.It is very important to mention that MFA is supported.

When should I use Windows Virtual Desktop?

In my personal opinion they can be used almost at every case.Of course there are some cases that we can not apply this solution like field engineers, offline workers or where multiple vpn connections are required for clients.

The best use cases could be companies that have multiple clients for specific jobs like call centers,retail stores,data entry,secretaries etc .

What are the advantages?

Let’s say that you replace your desktops with thin clients and you build a windows virtual desktop infrastructure.

My calculations reveal to me that probably you will not save money , that is not the motive.Your infrastructure costs will almost be the same (based on my calculations,it is not a rule , of course it depends on your case).

Of course remote working is one of the biggest advantages,but except from that you will have a more secure infrastructure with better management,visibility,availability and less complexity.That will lead to less first level support ( hardware and software) and less troubleshooting.

The most important is that you will be able to start using all the Azure ecosystem, modern security,automation and other solutions will now be available.Your transform journey has already began..

The next article will be a tutorial about how to apply all these and start using the service.

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