Windows Virtual Desktop – What is it actually and limitations

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One of the other big announcements at Microsoft Ignite was the Azure Windows Virtual Desktop, which essentially seems to me as a DaaS (Desktop as a Service) offering on top of Microsoft Azure. So what is it actually and how does it compare to the older service that they had which was Azure Remote App.

  • Multiuser Windows 10 running in ONLY Microsoft Azure. Multiuser Windows 10 will not be available elsewhere.
  • Master Image is based upon spinning up a virtual machine using scale set in Azure
  • Customers only Pay for the Virtual Machine Consumption running on Microsoft Azure
  • The other RDS services are running as PaaS Services in Azure, which are managed by Microsoft and not seen within the customer subscription.
  • Access to it is still using RDP Client or having RDP Feed integrated to the desktop
  • Windows Virtual Desktop is included in the Windows E3/E5 license.
  • Windows Virtual Desktop will be included in the non-profit SKUs as they mimic the commercial SKUs.
  • M365 E3/E5/F1/B will ALL contain the rights to Windows Virtual Desktop
  • Native User Profile Disks (Like with RemoteApp)
  • Web Access using HTML5 based RDS Web Access
  • Can be configured using reserved instances to ensure lower pricing for compute capacity.

All the Windows 10 machines will need to have an agent installed that communicates with the PaaS Service components using WebSockets in Azure to allow communication from the outside. Since the PaaS services are responsible for handling the connection to the different Windows 10 machines. Now since it is dependant on Scale-sets it does not yet have any good mechansmisms for handling power up and power down based upon actual sesion load, only based upon CPU metrics. So what do we need to consider or limitations that are known so far?

  • No integration with Azure AD – Only trough AD using VNET or AD DS. Meaning AD based authentication to the desktop. So that means that we do not have any SAML integration
  • No support for UDP Protocol Since the connections are based upon using WebSockets – which is similar to what Citrix is doing with NGaaS
  • No image provisioning feature, you would need to update image and then redeploy the scale set.
  • No ability to configure policies, (That might change if Microsoft is going to create more ADMX files for Windows 10 multiuser which includes some RDS policies)
  • Still our responsbiliity for having an Azure subscription and making sure that the backend machines are working properly

So based upon I’ve seen so far, there are still a lot of limitations and not that tightly integrated with Azure AD.
I was hoping that for instance the RDweb could be integrated into the MyApps portal to have a single application portal to get the legacy systems based upon that as well. But this seems to me that it is just another RemoteApp service without Azure AD support.

In terms of timeline, it will come into public preview later this year and then GA early 2019.

The upside I see however is especially with the Windows 10 Multiuser is that customers can use that in other scenarioes and avoid the RDS CAL license if they already have licensed for it using Microsoft 365 for instance. But the way I see it as of now is this is 1: RDMi components hosted my Microsoft in Azure, 2: Multi-user Windows 10, 3: Bundling of liceses.

 

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About the Author: Marius Sandbu

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