Welcome to my first “What´s new in Windows Virtual Desktop” post. I use this series to highlight the new features and announcements in the world of Windows Virtual Desktop on a monthly basis. In April there were a lot of Updates announced and a lot of exciting partners application updates released, which will be reviewed hereafter.
A very special focus will be done on the huge updates coming in the “Spring Update” in the following weeks / months.
Windows Virtual Desktop Stateless VMs with Azure using Ephemeral OS disks
You might know the Azure Academy YouTube series by Dean Cefola already, but one personal highlight this month was the configuration of stateless VMs in Windows Virtual Desktop. This How-To explains the pro´s and con´s of using ephemeral OS disks in Azure as well the realization within WVD.
A big pro of using ephemeral OS disks is that you can use this disk type on Azure Marketplace or even your own image! Additionally the disks will be used directly from the host, this is kind of comparable with the usage of the “temporary disks” provided on an Azure VM, this means, that you will not see any hard disk object anymore from within the Azure Portal. From the point of cost you benefit a lot in the utilization of ephemeral disks, because they don´t cost anything!
The disadvantages on the other hand are for example, that this disk type can´t be used as a disk image, which means that the creation of a golden image is not possible. The other disadvantage is the compatibility in terms of VM sizes which are currently supported. Currently, there are only a few sizes supported (DSv1, DSv2, DSv3, Esv3, Fs, FsV2, GS, M).
You can get more information on the official Microsoft documentation, or by clicking here. If you´re interested in how to create stateless VM´s in Azure, I want you to have a look at this great video from the Azure Academy:
Deploy a WVD environment via Infrastructure-as-Code from Azure DevOps
This topic is related to a post from Tom Hickling, posted in March about how to deploy HostPools as Code from Azure DevOps! Very exciting article which guides you through the deployment of HostPools from another angle.
As the deployment of infrastructure as Code has several benefits, starting from a more exact deployment in general over saving costs due to fewer experiments in the deploying of resources (once the code is ready), as well as the re-usability and the time saved to run it in multiple kinds of scenarios.
Have a look at his blog article by clicking here.
Microsoft Tech Talk Review and Questions I´ve asked
On Friday 24.04.2020, Microsoft focused on their weekly TechTalk on Windows Virtual Desktops and the new features coming in the so-called “Spring Update”. Several known functionalities have been presented, but I had the chance to ask some questions besides the standard program, which I want to present to you right here as well, if you weren’t able to attend.
First of all, it was a very informative Tech Talk with a lots of basics reviewed for those, who didn´t know all of the capabilities from WVD. Adam did a great job in answering basic questions about the general licensing or the partners / compatibilities (especially highlighted the compatibility with Samsung DeX and Igel Systems.).
#News1: Third-Party Management applications
As a great plus, he also highlighted third-party / community software to generally manage Windows Virtual Desktop like:
- WVD Monitor – Community Edition
- WVD Admin
- Azure Starter
The Azure Starter application e.g. wasn´t known to me before and for this reason a big thanks to Adam for presenting this tool! If you want to know more about these, I will create a comparison for next week’s Sundays post to guide you through each install process and give my personal feedback at the end.
#News 2: Partner Ecosystem with Citrix / VMWare
Furthermore, Adam explained the partner ecosystem with other well known VDI vendors Citrix and VMWare and how the integration into Microsoft’s cloud ecosystem is working. He explains especially while using VMWare Horizon or Citrix products, the Windows 10 Multi-Session Image can exclusively be used for running in the cloud.
#News 3: No more need of app installation – MSIX App Attach in Public Preview
As one of the new technical features/integrations about to come is, that MSIX app attach is announced to be in Public Preview! For those of you, who don´t know it here are the key facts of this functionality:
- Rapidly attach applications just-in-time when the users logs on
- Is comparable to FSLogix user profiles, just for applications
- Visibility per user – Based on security groups, applications can be attached and are exclusively visible for this user session / not per machine
- No repackaging required for the applications
If you want to know more about this feature, please leave me a comment, but I´m sure it will be a topic when it will be released for General Availability, which is currently planned to be in Summer 2020.
#News 4: Microsoft Teams updates for WVD
The next point should cover the new Teams enhancements that should be also available very soon, here are the benefits at a glance:
- Less network bandwidth compared to USB camera redirection
- Increased video framerates (up to 30fps)
- Enhanced UI for virtual environments
- Ability to redirect multiple cameras
- High-performance audio & video calling due to end-to-end connection
#News 5: The new and long awaited Management UI (WVD Workspace)
And now I want to highlight the most exciting features, for those, who want to manage WVD HostPools and Session Hosts directly from within Azure.
With the new Spring Update, Microsoft will release the so-called “Windows Virtual Desktop Workspace”, which brings the following benefits:
- Management of Tenants / Host Pools / Application Groups / Users from within the Azure Portal
- Metadata is not exclusively binded to the US and can be transferred to the preferred location
- Role Based Access Control (RBAC) for existing tenants
- Security Group support for Application Groups (the pitty with the script comes to an end!!!)
- LogAnalytics support for diagnostics
- Support to control the general RDP settings like FullScreen or Windowed Mode, Printer or Clipboard redirection, Smartcard or audio input / output settings
As you might see, there are a lot of new capabilities coming which will highly decrease the effort to provision Windows Virtual Desktops especially for new customers or for those, who don´t wanna investigate in learning the PowerShell, to already use these features.
For me it was a very exciting session especially as I had the chance to ask multiple questions, which have been perfectly answered by Adam. the new features about to come, regardless of the new Management Workspace or the capabilities for application attachments or user profile treatment make me even more excited how it will improve our kind of working in the future.
Stay tuned about what is coming in the next week.