What Is Windows Virtual Desktop?

June 2, 2019
A standard Windows PC booting up: So what is Windows Virtual Desktop?
Booting up and getting ready: So what exactly is Windows Virtual Desktop?

It is now in the public preview, but what is Windows Virtual Desktop exactly and what are the benefits of desktop virtualization?

Well, Windows Virtual Desktop is a platform that has been wanted for a long time now. It is a Windows operating system that allows administrators to have the interface and usability of a Windows 10 environment while only consuming the resources of a terminal server.

Right now, if you want to provide virtual desktops as a terminal server you don’t get all the user-friendly features of Windows 10 because you would have to go with an operating system that is windows-based. Users miss out on features and some third-party apps simply do not work.

At the same time if you want to go with a virtual desktop environment, you run into licensing problems and you have to setup basically one virtual desktop for each individual user, which becomes very resource intensive.

What is Windows Virtual Desktop? ezeep’s CEO Christoph Hammer explains.

Some Benefits of Windows Virtual Desktop

Multi-session Windows 10 allows multiple users to share an operating system at the same time and therefore keeps resource consumption down.

Licensing, previously a major drawback of desktop virtualization, has now also been addressed. Microsoft is putting a great deal of effort into making the licensing very attractive and very encouraging for those willing to make the switch to the Windows Virtual Desktop platform. For example, Microsoft basically gives part of the licensing away for Windows Virtual Desktop. Holders of the following licenses can access Windows desktops and apps at no additional cost:

  • Microsoft 365 E3
  • Microsoft 365 E5
  • Microsoft 365 F1
  • Windows E3
  • Windows E5

Support for the platform is extended across other systems, so it becomes cheaper to provide virtual desktops individually.

All in all, it’s an attractive package for a variety of reasons. Companies get great performance, a reduction of resource usage and more competitive, if somewhat complicated pricing.

What is Windows Virtual Desktop’s Pricing-Structure?

So how much will it cost? That’s one question that is not so easy to answer due to the large number of variables that make each environment different. Microsoft provides a few Windows Virtual Desktop pricing examples on the Azure website. There’s also a pricing calculator which you can try out.

That being said, this article from The ITAM Review provides a good overview of why this is still a complicated area. To summarize, decision-makers need to consider things like the number of VMs, Reserved Instance, Azure Hybrid Benefit and the level of management IT is willing to take on to get the most cost-effective plan.