Microsoft recently announced the general availability of Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD).  This is significant news for any organization using or planning to use remote desktop services.  In this article, I give an overview of WVD and the advantages it has over a traditional Remote Desktop Services (RDS) implementation.

Remote Desktop Services Implementation

Until Windows Virtual Desktop, implementing Remote Desktop Services (RDS) in Windows involved Remote Desktop Web Gateway and Web Access servers for external connectivity, Connection Brokers to manage user sessions, and several Session Hosts to run the desktops and applications.  A Licensing server was also required along with load balancing services to facilitate high availably.  Once finished, an implementation looks like the diagram below.

Windows Virtual Desktop implementation

Windows Virtual Desktop significantly reduces the number of servers involved and the complexity to implement remote desktops by combining the Remote Desktop Web Gateway, Web Access, and Connection Broker into an Azure Platform as a Service (PaaS) offering.  Even better, there is no cost for using the WVD service.  The only costs with WVD are associated with running virtual desktop hosts in Azure, including IaaS VM’s, data storage and transfer costs.

Another significant advantage with WVD is the availably of a multi-user version of Windows 10.  Many users can now access a small number of windows 10 VM’s running in Azure.  This greatly simplifies virtual desktop management.  With RDS hosting desktops on a server OS, a separate set of application packages, GPO’s and login scripts may have been required for RDS and the Windows desktop computers.  With WVD, one Windows 10 OS is used for both the on-premises desktop and remote desktop environment, providing a unified management experience.

In addition, with the proper Windows 10 Licensing there is no need to purchase RDS CAL’s for WVD.  This reduces the cost associated with CAL’s as well as a licensing server and greatly simplifies the implementation.  A WVD implementation looks like the image below with Windows 10 multi-user.

Additional Benefits

For those who are not ready to move off Windows 7 at the end of extended support in January of 2020, Microsoft offers free extended security updates until January of 2023 for Windows 7 workloads moved to WVD.  Windows 7 does not support multi-user, but WVD can be implemented in a one-to-one VDI type deployment.  Also, desktops and applications on Server OS 2012 R2 and above are an option for those not able to move their virtual environment off a Server OS.

Microsoft has made other improvements including the integration of FSLogix for user profile management and has partnered with Citrix to provide built-in support for Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktop service.  For more information, see Microsoft’s WVD overview page or contact us.