What is WVD?
WVD, or Windows Virtual Desktop, is Microsoft’s brand name for its Azure-hosted VDI and shared desktop technology. Azure, VDI and shared desktop (aka session-based virtualisation or server-based computing) have all been around for years now, so there’s nothing new with the individual concepts.
Azure, VDI and shared desktop – big deal…!
You would be forgiven for wondering what all the fuss is about, but there are some fundamental differences between WVD and solutions from all other vendors, big and small (Citrix, VMware, being the two most prominent in this space). Firstly, as VDI and shared desktop scenarios are 90% Windows-based, Microsoft has a lot of control that it can assert over licensing models, costs, legalities and connection models. For years now one of the biggest complaints with shared desktop environments has been that users connect to a Windows Server (2003, 8, 12, 16, 19) RDS server, and so to some degree have a diminished end user experience as a result as they’re connecting to a server OS rather than a client OS. Much of the admin’s job has been to make that desktop as ‘Windows 10’ as possible.
Multi-User Windows 10 (shared desktop)
The first key difference between WVD and every other solution on the market is that it is the only way for organisations to provide shared access to a single Windows 10 virtual machine whilst remaining compliant with Microsoft’s licensing programme. The principles are similar to those of Microsoft RDS, except you can guarantee the full Windows 10 user experience and with most application compatibility issues no longer being an issue. Microsoft acquired FSLogix prior to the launch of the public beta of Windows RDS which has helped to address many of the common technical problems IT admins experience when trying to provide a consistent user experience for multiple users in non-persistent virtual environments.
Windows 7 Support
With a substantial number of customers still using the tried, tested and ever-reliable Windows 7, Microsoft made a fairly aggressive move by offering continued support to Windows 7 desktop users without cost, but only when used in a WVD environment. This gave millions of organisations an option for extending their migrations and avoiding inevitable panic and cost by having to pay cost-prohibitive pricing to keep their Windows estate maintained until at the very latest 2022.
It’s cost-free (for most organisations)
Any organisations with valid Windows 10 software maintenance or Microsoft 365 E3 subscriptions will incur no additional licensing costs of any description. That is to say, that the technology that makes WVD work at its core, and all of the perks previously mentioned are completely cost-free for most organisations.
It’s all about Azure
Microsoft’s long term game plan has for some time now been about encouraging adoption of its public cloud, Microsoft Azure. WVD itself is not a licensed product. If your licensing tier qualifies for WVD, then you will be able to deploy it without any cost, but you do have to pay for the compute, storage and network resource consumed. It’s a clever, if somewhat aggressive move (with some speculation that it may need to be reined in), by Microsoft. They want customers on Azure so they provide themselves exclusivity to Windows 7 maintenance and Windows 10 shared desktop on the proviso that organisations take up their private cloud offering. It’s a very compelling offering, and one that many organisations have rushed to adopt, many out of necessity.
Eco-system to the rescue
Microsoft is and always have been a two-thirds company. They have always recognised the importance of strategic alliances, and combine the value of bringing products to market at an earlier stage of their lifecycle with partnerships that help add kudos and encourage adoption. WVD is absolutely no exception to this rule, with long-time partners Citrix being core to providing enterprise customers with many of the functional capabilities to orchestrate and manage large-scale deployments now seen as being essential for larger deployments. The VIP list includes the likes of Nerdio, Liquidware, Lakeside, ThinPrint, PeopleTech and CloudJumper whose combined solution stack allows for:
- Print management
- Workspace presentation
- End user monitoring and diagnostics
- Application layering
- Application readiness (assessment and remediation)
Who is it for?
Good question. We’ve been working with WVD since the closed beta appeared almost two years ago. At that stage, it was an impractical set of PowerShell scripts that were inflexible and riddled with complexities that made it very raw. Honestly, it had changed that much by the time it was generally available, but since then the solution has seen rafts of improvements driven by a very enthusiastic community and partner eco-system who clearly understand the potential of the solution.
WVD is aimed at everyone. Microsoft wants you using its operating system on their Azure platform and the easier they make it for you to get there, whether you’re a one-man-band or a multi-national conglomerate, the better. Bearing that in mind, Microsoft has focused a lot of time and attention on educating and informing their partner base. As specialists in this area, we’ve made it our business to learn the technology and its implementation best practices. As with any and every technology project, you should start with the requirement and work from that. We can help you work out whether you or your partner would be well suited to WVD now or in the future, and would be happy to talk to you about it.
I want to try it
Of course you do. Why wouldn’t you? It’s free (for the most part) and there are lots of opportunities for partners to take advantage of and umpteen ways that end customers can realise significant savings and benefit. Let us know what your objectives are and we’ll happily help you get set up and going in the right manner. We’re happy to work on your behalf to assist end customers – just let us know what you need and we’ll get something sorted.