Microsoft Windows Virtual Desktop Is Now Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD)

Sumeet Sabharwal, Chief Executive OfficerCloud Computing

Windows Virtual Desktop to Azure Virtual Desktop: Is it just rebranding or something more?

Ahead of next month’s Inspire conference (Microsoft’s annual partnership event), Microsoft recently announced a rebranding of its Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) to Azure Virtual Desktop. The news itself was not a surprise and arguably long overdue as Microsoft positions Azure as the foundational building block for cloud VDI beyond Windows. In doing so, Microsoft is also furthering its commitment to supporting an expanded set of remote and hybrid use cases post COVID. Digging a bit further in, the announcement has us quite excited, and we feel there is more here than just a name change.

A few notable highlights include:

Remote Application streaming with per-user monthly pricing

Microsoft is actively targeting independent software vendors (ISVs) looking to deliver specific applications to their customers and business partners in a multi-tenant, scalable model using Azure Virtual Desktop “as-a-service”. In doing so, it has worked in earnest to simplify the licensing model. The new licensing model for ISV application streaming allows ISVs to pay a per user price of $5.50/month for RemoteApp and $10/month for the desktop, removing the additional burden of Windows 10 Enterprise entitlements.

Enhanced support for Azure Active Directory

Users will be able to join their AVD machines directly to Azure Active Directory, eliminating the need for the session host VMs to be joined to an existing Active Directory domain and the associated complexity. This also unlocks additional features like single-sign on (SSO) and streamlined integration with Microsoft Endpoint Manager, while reducing reliance on local Domain Controllers.

Microsoft Endpoint Manager (MEM) support for Windows 10 Enterprise multi-session

Going beyond functionality, Microsoft has also extended the Endpoint Manager tool to manage both physical and virtual desktops, simplifying admin activities. MEM now supports managing Windows 10 Enterprise multi-session with device configurations. Given that this is still beta, there are limitations including the lack of support for “user scope policies”.

With these changes in place, it is also apparent that Microsoft is positioning AVD for a broader set of Operating Systems than just Windows. We were quick to jump on the WVD bandwagon, with several clients already enjoying the benefits of improved performance, security and deeper integration with Azure. We are looking forward to being early adopters of AVD and the new capabilities this brings to bear as well.