What Is Windows Virtual Desktop?

UPDATE: Windows Virtual Desktop is now in General Availability. Watch our Tech Talk to learn how to Set Up Windows Virtual Desktop.

Windows Virtual Desktop has recently been announced. Microsoft has officially dropped Office 365 ProPlus support for Windows Server 2019. This is a move by Microsoft to encourage customer cloud desktop adoption. The end goal is to accelerate the movement of customer apps to the cloud, and, more specifically, Windows Virtual Desktop. This push, plus the technology’s affordable pricing model, will encourage many current Office users to make the migration to Azure.

A public preview of Windows Virtual Desktop was released at the end of 2018. General availability of the product is expected in the second quarter of 2019. Register below to be notified of releases.

What Is Windows Virtual Desktop?

This new Microsoft Azure service is specifically designed for virtual desktop infrastructure and Remote Desktop Session Host management. It enables users to have access to a complete modern desktop from any device. This is accomplished through Azure and offers comprehensive compliance and security.

The new offering is lucrative for businesses for a number of reasons. First, it is both optimized for Office 365 ProPlus and offers a multi-user Windows 10 experience. Second, it is the most scalable service to deploy and to manage. Third, due to the fact that users can virtualize apps and desktops, it provides unparalleled flexibility. Fourth, free Extended Security Updates come with the Windows 7 Virtual Desktop. Finally, fifth, it is integrated with Microsoft 365’s security and management.

Who Should Use Virtual Desktops?

Does everybody need virtual desktops? Not necessarily. However, many companies will significantly benefit from it. The key to deciding if there is a need lies in identifying the potential VDI users within the organization and what their needs are.

Types Of Users And Their Needs:

kiosk using virtual desktop for secure data

  1. Kiosk Users (i.e. customers): This is the perfect place to deploy a virtual desktop that connects to a non-secure network. It allows functionality without credential access.
  2. Task Workers (i.e. receptionist, call center, etc.): Critical data and business functions from these roles do not require remote or mobile connections, yet it is essential for them to be able to reboot a failed desktop quickly. VDI allows this.
  3. Knowledge Workers (i.e. sales representatives, executives, etc.): RDSH is usually the best option for this type of worker. It enables out-of-office productivity.
  4. Power Users (i.e. code or graphics developers, audio or video producers, etc.): A virtual desktop is ideal for power users who want to be able to use their preferred apps from producing and programming, yet still need to be able to connect to the company network. They can use this service to accomplish both on the same device.

Specific Purposes For Virtual Desktop Use:

  • Security and regulation: Allows employees to work remotely without storing company information on their personal device.
  • Financial services: Enables data separation so that information stays on the server rather than the endpoint.
  • Healthcare: Ensures optimal HIPAA compliance.
  • Government: Provides additional data security and is easier to implement with the government’s more elastic workforce.
  • Mergers and acquisitions: Allows companies to have easier access to each other’s infrastructure as they collaborate to merge their assets.
  • Short term employees, contractors, and partners: Companies can provide access to their network without device provision.
  • BYOD policies and mobile access: There is access and additional security for workforce members who prefer to use Android and iOS devices.
  • Hotelling call centers: They provide network access for workforces that are moving from desk to desk.
  • Branch workers: Specialized workloads can be created for employees at different branches.
  • Design and engineering: Instead of depending on high-powered workstations, these employees can now use N series VMS. This means for intensive applications there will be a dedicated GPU inside of the virtualized environment.
  • Legacy applications: Legacy LOB applications can be containerized. These old applications that block upgrades from Windows 10 can be virtualized with the user treating the virtualized session as its own application.
  • Software development testing: Instead of having to set up entire machines to test on, developers can put any number of machines in the virtual environment, saving time and money.

What Is The Value Of Multi-Session Virtualization

One of the biggest advantages to virtual machines comes from the value that they create in terms of whitespace resource utilization. With single-user environments, the company not only pays for any resources used, but also the overhead that goes unused when the virtual machine is not running at peak demand. Multi-session environments considerably reduce this whitespace. A good way to picture this difference in resource utilization can be seen by comparing the numbers. If a company uses single-user virtual desktops that need 2 vCPUs and 4GB of RAM and they have 24 users who all need this environment, that requires 48 vCPUs and 96GB of RAM. With the Windows Virtual Desktop for multi-user, only 8 CPUs and 32GB of RAM would be necessary for the same scenario. While there will still be overhead from usage peaks, distributing the load has eliminated 40VMs and 64GB of RAM in waste.

In other words, stop paying for whitespace! Resource use oversight, as well as the rest of administration, is much more straight-forward with Windows Virtual Desktop. Additionally, transitioning to WVD is made even easier by the fact that existing management tools, such as Intune and SCCM, can be used.

Load Balancing: Breadth Mode And Depth Mode

The two types of load balancing offer separate but powerful benefits. Breadth mode is all about performance. VMs are allocated to users evenly. This assures that they have the maximum amount of resources, which is ideal for intensive applications. This can be especially useful with Azure reserved instances, which require an upfront commitment to compute capacity.

Depth mode, on the other hand, is about cost efficiency. Through it, every user is allocated to a single VM. When it reaches a predefined peak, a new VM is automatically created and new users are allocated to it. This creates enhanced control over variable costs, which is particularly useful in cases such as call centers where shift-based workers arrive and leave in groups, forcing the VMs to start and stop in clusters.


Companies that want to use Windows Virtual Desktop will need one of the following:

  • M365 E3/E5
  • M365 Business/F1
  • Windows E3/E5
  • Windows 7, Windows 10, Windows 10 Enterprise Multisession, or Windows Server 2012 R2+ in their own Azure subscription

Learn More About the Windows Virtual Desktop

Agile IT provides guidance and management for Azure. Our Readiness Assessment Planning Workshops can help you plan your cloud migration and avoid overspending on underutilized resources. Click here to book a call.

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