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Windows Virtual Desktop

Author by Paul Harris

What is it?

Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) is a modern product to reduce the complexity of running Virtual Desktops in the cloud. The service allows you to manage multi-session, full Windows 10 desktop deployments in a unified manner via the Azure portal. It also offers a way to virtualize Office 365 ProPlus licenses, and bring Remote Desktop Services (and Windows Server) desktops and apps to any internet connected device. Also, a great benefit is extended security updates for those who need Windows 7 past the end of life date in January 2020.

Finally, user profile data will persist between logons and sessions allowing applications like Outlook to function the same as if they were ran locally on a traditional computer. Users also have access to all their files stored in OneDrive, but loading on-demand files launch very quickly due to the high speed networking infrastructure native to Azure. For sensitive data, Admins have the controls to be able to keep sensitive files on the Virtual Desktop, thus minimizing the risk data loss. WVD also supports the use of Azure AD and Multifactor Authentication for securing logons. Windows Hello is also enabled. WVD also has a long list of compliance offerings (ITAR, ISO, SOX, etc).

In more visual terms; WVD allows you to go from a traditional RDS infrastructure:

To something more streamlined and Microsoft-managed like this:


Requirements to leverage this?

Naturally, there are a couple items you must acquire in order to provision Windows Virtual Desktop. But, those requirements are not too bad. Let’s assume you want to provide Windows 10 environments for your users.

  • First, an Azure Subscription with a virtual network that has or has access to Active Directory.
  • Second, you will need a valid Windows 10 Enterprise license, as well as Microsoft 365 E3, E5, A3, A5, F1, or Business Windows E3, E5, A3, A5 licenses.
  • Third, you will need an active Azure Active Directory or a Windows Server Active Directory leveraging Azure AD Connect or Azure AD Domain Services to sync.
  • Fourth, HTTPS access to a list of trusted Microsoft websites.
  • Fifth, the VMs created must be Domain-joined or Hybrid AD-joined.


Other helpful tidbits

There are a few other pieces of information that I would consider good to know before going all in with WVD. You will want to minimize latency between your users and the actual WVD VMs. Microsoft recommends 150ms or less to be sufficient. Be aware however, network traffic can at times flow outside countries or region borders when the VMs connect to the management service.

Pricing is only the cost for the infrastructure (compute and storage) that is consumed. As always, be sure to consider using Reservations whenever possible to bring costs down. Azure does feature a monthly payment option for Reservations as well.

Custom as well as pre-configured images are available allowing the option to bring your own Remote Desktop delivered applications to WVD. If you are running graphics heavy workloads, GPU acceleration utilizing Azure’s N-Series of VMs with NVIDIA graphics cards are also available.


For guided tutorials and more information about Windows Virtual Desktop, see the official documentation.

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