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Microsoft today announced that Windows Virtual Desktop has hit worldwide general availability. As a result, you can deploy and scale your Windows desktops and apps on Azure “in minutes,” the company said today.

Think of Windows Virtual Desktop as a tool for deploying and scaling Windows desktops and apps on Azure with built-in security and compliance. The Azure-based service provides a virtualized multi-session Windows 10 experience and Office 365 ProPlus virtual desktop on any device. The Windows Virtual Desktop client is available on Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and HTML 5. Windows Virtual Desktop also supports Windows Server Remote Desktop Services (RDS) desktops and apps in a shared public cloud.

Microsoft announced Windows Virtual Desktop in September 2018, but only in private preview. In November 2018, Microsoft acquired app-provisioning startup FSLogix. That platform’s strength was reducing the resources, time, and labor required to support desktop and app virtualization. FSLogix technologies in Windows Virtual Desktop enable faster load times for non-persistent users accessing Outlook or OneDrive, plus support for client and server RDS deployments. Windows Virtual Desktop hit public preview in March, with a promise of a full rollout in the second half of this year. Today the company has delivered.

Windows 7 end of support

Windows Virtual Desktop also includes free Windows 7 Extended Security Updates (ESU) until January 2023. Because Windows 7 will hit end of support on January 14, 2020, Microsoft is strategically offering the almost decade-old operating system via Windows Virtual Desktop. This will be useful for any company that still needs to support Windows 7 legacy applications while migrating to Windows 10. (Windows 10 commands over 50% market share, but Windows 7 is a close second with just under 30%.)

Furthermore, Microsoft has tapped its partners to extend Windows Virtual Desktop. Starting today, Citrix includes support for Windows 10 multi-session, Windows 7 with free Extended Security Updates for up to three years, and Windows Server 2008 R2 with free Extended Security Updates on Azure. VMware will follow suit later this year.

To deploy and manage your virtualization environment, you’ll need an Azure subscription — you can optimize costs by taking advantage of Reserved Instances and by using multi-session Windows 10. You will not be charged more for accessing Windows 10 and Windows 7 desktops and apps if you have Microsoft 365 F1/E3/E5, Windows 10 Enterprise E3/E5, or Windows VDA. You will also not be charged more for using Windows Server desktops and apps if you’re a Microsoft RDS Client Access License customer.

Microsoft said today that “general availability is just the beginning” and to expect more desktop and app virtualization features “in the coming months.”


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