This blog post was co-authored by Julia White, Corporate Vice President for Microsoft Azure, and Brad Anderson, Corporate Vice President for Microsoft 365.
Today, we are announcing Windows Virtual Desktop, the best virtualized Windows and Office experience delivered on Azure. Windows Virtual Desktop is the only cloud-based service that delivers a multi-user Windows 10 experience, optimized for Office 365 ProPlus, and includes free Windows 7 Extended Security Updates. With Windows Virtual Desktop, you can deploy and scale Windows and Office on Azure in minutes, with built-in security and compliance.
For many companies, the specific needs of their business require a virtualized desktop experience. The reasons for virtualization vary. For example, for regulated industries like financial services and healthcare, a virtualized desktop experience ensures compliance regulations are met and access to sensitive data is securely managed. For mobile workforces and Firstline Workers, desktop virtualization makes managing and provisioning access to corporate data and apps easier. It also gives IT options in supporting scenarios such as giving access to specific apps to certain employees.
Introducing the Windows Virtual Desktop
While desktop virtualization helps in many business scenarios, it has historically been complex and expensive to deploy and manage. To solve some of these complexities, we have developed Windows Virtual Desktop with both IT and the user in mind.
Windows Virtual Desktop includes the following benefits:
- The only service to enable a multi-user Windows 10 experience, including compatibility with Microsoft Store and existing Windows line-of-business apps while delivering cost advantages previously only possible with server-based virtualization.
- The best service to virtualize Office 365 ProPlus running in multi-user virtual scenarios. Microsoft Office is the most virtualized app used, and we are committed to deliver the best possible virtual experience. In the months ahead, we will have more to share on our investments in the Office 365 virtualized experience for the Windows Virtual Desktop service.
- The only service to provide Windows 7 virtual desktop with free Extended Security Updates, giving you more options to support legacy apps while you transition to Windows 10.
- The most scalable service to deploy and manage Windows virtual machines, using Azure for compute, storage, rich diagnostics, advanced networking, connection brokering, and gateway. You no longer need to host, install, configure, and manage these components yourself—so you can deploy and scale in minutes.
- The most flexible service allowing you to virtualize both desktops and apps, meaning you can choose between providing your users the entire desktop experience or delivering only specific apps. When you deliver virtual apps to a Windows 10 endpoint, they are integrated seamlessly into the user experience.
- Deeply integrated with the security and management of Microsoft 365. The Microsoft 365 conditional access, data loss prevention, and integrated management are natively built in—providing the most secure and simplest solution for protecting and managing all your apps and data.
Windows Virtual Desktop ecosystem
Windows Virtual Desktop is a comprehensive virtualization solution. However, we recognize that there is a need for different capabilities to serve our broad set of customers. To accommodate this need, we have built Windows Virtual Desktop as a platform that can be easily extended and enriched by partners in the following ways:
- We will have many partners that extend the service through the Azure marketplace and are already working with leading partners, including Citrix, CloudJumper, FSLogix, Lakeside Software, Liquidware, People Tech Group, and ThinPrint.
- The extensive network of Microsoft Cloud Solution Providers will be able to offer Windows Virtual Desktop to their customers and offer additional value around the service.
- We are also working with partners such as Citrix to deeply integrate and build upon the Windows Virtual Desktop capabilities.
We will have more to share on our ecosystem approach in the near future.
Access to Windows Virtual Desktop
We’re excited to offer this service to Windows 10 Enterprise and Windows 10 Education customers. Once you sign up for Windows Virtual Desktop, you only need to set up or use an existing Azure subscription to quickly deploy and manage your virtual desktops and apps. The only additional cost to you is for the storage and compute consumption from the virtual machines themselves, which will live in your Azure subscription. You will be able to take advantage of any of your existing Azure compute commitments, including Azure Virtual Machine Reserved Instances (RI).
We are working hard to put the finishing touches on a public preview, which will be available later this year. If you would like to participate in the public preview, you can register your interest now. In the meantime, please visit the Windows Virtual Desktop website to learn more, or contact your Microsoft account team or Microsoft partner.