Microsoft’s responses to my questions about Windows Virtual Desktop

Officially, the use cases are still quite narrow.

After I wrote my second article about Windows Virtual Desktop, I had a few questions for Microsoft. A Microsoft spokesperson got back to me with the answers quoted below. Officially, Microsoft is still framing things in a very narrow way.

Those on the ground at Ignite 2018 might have heard slightly broader details, and the we'll all certainly explore those over the next few weeks. Since I wasn’t there in person, I’m eagerly awaiting the session videos and blog posts from folks that were there. In the meantime, I’m publishing my questions and answers today for the sake of completeness.

Next week, we’ll have some guest posts from Benny and Tim. (I’ll be away on vacation, but Kyle will be taking care of things here, so be sure and watch out for his posts, too.) I hope everybody that was at Ignite has a restful weekend—I’ll be joining the crowds there in person next year for sure!

Questions and answers

Question: First, I just want to confirm some information that was implied in the announcement blog post, and mentioned during some sessions at Ignite. Is it correct that Windows 10 Enterprise for Virtual Desktops (which many have been referring to as “multi-user Windows 10”) can only be used on Azure, in conjunction with the new Windows Virtual Desktop Service?

Answer from Microsoft spokesperson: Correct that it is only on Azure, but to clarify, it is a part of Windows Virtual Desktop (not separate from it). So, there isn’t a “Windows 10 Enterprise for Virtual Desktops.” The service is Windows Virtual Desktop, which includes the multi-user Windows 10 experience.

Question: Second, the Windows Virtual Desktop blog post mentions running Windows 7 and Windows Server workloads. Does this mean that Windows 7 VDI can now be licensed on shared, multi-tenant hardware, like Windows 10?

Answer: To be clear, customers can use Windows Virtual Desktop to virtualize Windows 7 environments, either desktops or apps, as customers prepare to make the move to Windows 10. The most common scenario is to virtualize Windows 7 applications that need to be remediated before they can be moved to Windows 10. In addition, customers will be able to use Windows 7 for three years beyond the end of service (January 2020) with the Extended Security Updates at no additional cost.

Question: If so, can any service provider do this, or is it limited to Azure, and/or usage in conjunction with Windows Virtual Desktop?

Answer: Windows Virtual Desktop is limited to Azure, and the virtualization of Windows 7 beyond the end of service (January 2020) with Extended Security Updates at no additional cost is limited to Azure as well.

Question: For Windows Virtual Desktops based on Windows Server operating systems, are RDS CALs required, or is licensing covered under the terms mentioned in the blog post (with Windows E3 or E5 licenses)?

Answer: The Windows Virtual Desktop service licensing is covered under the terms of Windows or Microsoft 365 E3 or E5 licensing. The only cost is for the Azure compute being consumed. RDS CALs will be required to run Windows Server OS in Windows Virtual Desktop, then Azure Compute and Storage applies.

Question: Lastly, I have a few questions that are more forward-looking. I suspect that Microsoft might not be able to answer these right now, but I wanted to ask them for due diligence. Are there any future plans to allow broader usage of the Windows Virtual Desktop service? For example, to support workloads in other clouds or on-premises?

Answer: There are no plans at this time.

Question: Are there any future plans to allow broader usage of Windows 10 Enterprise for Virtual Desktops (commonly referred to as multi-user Windows 10)? For example, usage with other cloud providers, usage on-premises, or usage in conjunction with a management infrastructure other than Windows Virtual Desktop?

Answer: Windows Virtual Desktop is the only service to enable a multi-user Windows 10 experience, including compatibility with Microsoft Store and existing Windows line-of-business apps while delivering cost advantages previously only possible with server-based virtualization.

Question: Will Windows 10 Enterprise for Virtual Desktops replace RDSH on Windows Server?

Answer: Again, to clarify, the service is Windows Virtual Desktop (there is not Windows 10 Enterprise for Virtual Desktops). However, this is isn’t a replacement of RDSH on Windows Server; it is an offering bringing a key feature of RDSH in multi-user benefit to Windows 10 multi-user in Windows Virtual Desktop. We are still committed to RDS and will release RDS 2019 in October and support customers looking to virtualize on-premises or with RDS on IaaS.