Microsoft has commenced a public preview of Windows Virtual Desktop, its virtual, cloud-hosted desktop-as-a-service.
Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) matters for three reasons.
The big one is that WVD is Microsoft’s all-but-preferred option for those who want to keep using Windows 7. As that OS goes end of life in January 2020, users are being warned that security updates will soon become unavailable unless they either:
- Pay a hefty fee;
- Move their Windows 7 desktops into Azure and WVD, because desktops hosted there will continue to receive security updates, gratis.
Microsoft’s also priced the service sweetly – it’ll cost nothing extra under some Windows 10 Enterprise or Microsoft 365 licenses - other than Azure compute, storage, and networking costs associated with the virtual desktops you run. But that arrangement also means Windows 7 users will be paying Microsoft for an OS licence and cloud services.
A second point of significance is that WVD means Microsoft has caught up with AWS, Citrix and VMware. AWS offers Workspaces, a cloud-hosted desktop consumed through a dedicated software client. Citrix and VMware each have desktop virtualisation software they’ll happily run in a public cloud. Microsoft reckons it has them all covered by running on any device and its always-updated desktop OS proposition.
The third reason is that WVD gives Microsoft a new way to address mobility, a market in which it has strong apps but lacks a platform play other than Windows itself on a laptop. WVD delivers for Microsoft because it’s made clients for the service to run on any device, which means the chance to put a Windows desktop on an iPad or Android.
Microsoft’s not said when the service will graduate from a Public Preview, but hasn't advised against running production workloads. Azure services that reach Public Preview are usually pretty robust and tick over to a proper product in not too many months.
Microsoft’s popped up a demo video with more details and you can watch it below.