Windows Virtual Desktop preview goes public

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Back in September last year Microsoft announced the launch of its Virtual Desktop to allow Windows to be run in the cloud.

At the time, however, it was only a private preview. Today the public preview launches, so anyone with an Azure subscription can try out the service.


Windows Virtual Desktop offers simplified management, a multi-session Windows 10 experience, optimizations for Office 365 ProPlus, and support for Windows Server Remote Desktop Services (RDS) desktops and apps. It means users can deploy and scale Windows desktops and apps on Azure quickly and with built-in security.

It should be attractive to businesses that need to continue to support Windows 7 legacy applications as they migrate to Windows 10. They'll be able to use Windows Virtual Desktop to virtualize Windows 7 desktops with free Extended Security Updates (ESU) until January 2023 -- three years past the end of extended support.

Microsoft says on its blog, "As we start public preview, we'll continue listening and taking feedback, to ensure we’re meeting your needs as we head toward general availability in the second half of calendar year 2019."

The company expects that Virtual Desktop will gain more functionality in conjunction with third-parties. Citrix Cloud services can be used to extend Windows Virtual Desktop capabilities, and through partnership with Samsung, Windows Virtual Desktop will provide mobile workers access to a full Windows 10 and Office 365 ProPlus experience with Samsung DeX.

Software and service providers will also extend Windows Virtual Desktop to offer targeted solutions in the Azure marketplace. In addition Microsoft Cloud Solution Providers (CSPs) will deliver end-to-end desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) offerings and value-added services to their customers.

To start using the virtualization environment, users need to set up an Azure subscription. They can then choose the type of virtual machines (VMs) and storage they want to suit their environment. Costs can be optimized by taking advantage of Reserved Instances (up to 72 percent discount) and by using multi-session Windows 10.

For users accessing the Windows 10 and Windows 7 desktops and apps, there's no additional cost if they are existing Microsoft 365 F1/E3/E5, Windows 10 Enterprise E3/E5, or Windows VDA customers. For Windows Server desktops and apps, there's no additional cost for existing Microsoft RDS Client Access License (CAL) customers.

You can get started over on the Microsoft Azure site.

Image credit: spatuletail / Shutterstock

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