Microsoft Launches Public Preview of Windows Virtual Desktop

Posted on March 21, 2019 by Mehedi Hassan in Cloud, Office 365, Windows, Windows 10 with 14 Comments

Back at Ignite 2018, Microsoft launched a new service called Windows Virtual Desktop that allowed users to run a multi-user Windows experience powered by Azure. The service first launched in a private preview, and Microsoft is today expanding the preview to let anyone try the service out.

Microsoft’s Windows Virtual Desktop is an Azure-powered service that lets users access a multi-session Windows 10 experience from anywhere. The service comes with Office 365 ProPlus integration for enterprise customers, as well as support for Windows Server Remote Desktop Services. The idea is that businesses can easily deploy and scale their Windows desktops and apps quickly and easily through the power of Azure.

Windows Virtual Desktop isn’t limited to Windows 10 only, and Microsoft is still offering Windows 7 as an option. But with Windows 7’s extended support ending in January 2020, Microsoft is offering three additional years of support for those who still want to set up Windows 7 virtual desktops on the service.

Microsoft says the company is also working with companies like Samsung and Citrix to further expand the functionality of the service, with users being able to access their Windows 10 desktop from Samsung DeX, for example.

You can find out more about Windows Virtual Desktop’s public preview here.

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Comments (14)

14 responses to “Microsoft Launches Public Preview of Windows Virtual Desktop”

  1. Tony Barrett

    ...and this people, is the real 'subscription' future of Windows 'as a service'. Like we didn't know this was coming, even though MS said it wasn't...

    • warren

      In reply to ghostrider:

      Yeah yeah yeah, you have a fetish for being wrong on the internet. We -know-, you don't have to keep proving it to the rest of us. Sheesh.

      This is a cloud-hosted version of MED-V, which Microsoft has been selling for a decade now. It's for businesses that need to give their users access to VMs for additional computing power...... or to run an individual application virtualized on an old version of Windows.

      Nothing more.

  2. BigM72

    I would be interested to see a consumer version of this (perhaps paying for minutes that the session is open). Then I could run a Chromebook (or Windows Lite) and turn on a remote Windows session specifically when I need to.

    • jbinaz

      In reply to BigM72:

      I see our as an option to start weaning people away from win32 and full Windows towards windows lite, as an effort to combat the Chromebook concept.

    • christian.hvid

      In reply to BigM72:

      Amen to that. Microsoft should be able to leverage whatever they're doing in Project xCloud to offer low-latency streaming of heavy-duty desktop applications like Photoshop or Premiere. This would of course cannibalize on the Windows licensing business, but that's consistent with what Microsoft is doing with Office and with its server products.

  3. christian.hvid

    Interestingly, Microsoft used to have a similar service called Azure RemoteApp (although more oriented towards app streaming than full desktop virtualization). RemoteApp was heavily touted in 2016, and then suddenly killed after Citrix had gone ballistic over the unexpected competition. This time, Citrix seems to be on board, but it's also a fair assumption that Virtual Desktop won't be powerful enough to encroach on Xen territory.

    • mrdrwest

      In reply to christian.hvid:

      Curious why Microsoft conceded on-premises VDI to Citrix.

      Windows Virtual Desktop on Azure threatens Citrix.

      But it appears Microsoft and Citrix are playing nice: What's up with that? Why won't Microsoft go after Citrix's jugular?

      Azure could be / is a VDI game changer.

      • christian.hvid

        In reply to mrdrwest:

        Microsoft could easily put Citrix out of business, but it has chosen not to. I don't know the politics behind that, but presumably Microsoft sees the long-standing relationship with Citrix as a benefit. Plus, the antitrust shadow is always looming.

        • AnOldAmigaUser

          In reply to christian.hvid:

          I wonder about the politics as well, since, from what I have heard, no one that is using it has much love for Citrix.

          The interesting thing is that Amazon or Google could offer the service without the shadow of antitrust looming, only because they do not produce the desktop OS. I would be surprised if they do not, at some point, if only to add a pain point for Microsoft.

        • Skolvikings

          In reply to christian.hvid:

          I don't see this as an antitrust issue since they're not bundling this with the OS. It's a separate cloud service one has to go out of their way to purchase.

    • bls

      In reply to christian.hvid:No politics, just good old US capitalism. Citrix generates a LOT of revenue for Microsoft at virtually no cost to Microsoft. No sales, support, training, etc.Citrix does it all. Citrix would have to duff really badly for Microsoft to feel compelled to evaporate that.
      That said, it will be VERY interesting to see whether Citrix customers are ready to jump ship to this new service.

  4. Joshua Manring

    Funny. They used to offer this same service and then killed it in favor of an offering from Citrix.

  5. leonardojones

    Indeed, Windows Virtual Desktop is an important change for Desktop as a Service in the IT world. However, the public preview is still a bit difficult to use and doesn’t seem to be quite fit for end user consumption yet. If anything it will draw more public attention to the various options available for DaaS, and broaden the solution set for partners. 

    It seems that for the time being the only really viable options are Citrix, VMWare, Amazon workspaces, or NetConnect by Northbridge Secure.

    For myself, I have a preference for NetConnect because it’s so much more cost effective and so much easier than the other solutions to use. You can run it in your own infrastructure or any cloud you want, it’s compatible with traditional Remote Desktop, and very user-friendly. Plus it’s got all the DeX compatibility and HTML5 client that WVD is pushing as well – they even have a mouse for ipad users. 

    Ultimately I think it’ll be interesting to see if a multi-user Windows 10 makes a real different from a standard RDS server – if it doesn’t there’s a good chance I’ll stick to NetConnect…