More thoughts on Windows Virtual Desktop: It’ll be useful for partners, and yes, it should be free!

But will Microsoft *ever* allow other uses of multi-user Windows 10? And RDSH has to be on its way out, right?

Windows Virtual Desktop (or WVD, if you’d like) was officially announced a day ago, and we’ve all spend the last day and a half thinking about and debating WVD. (48 comments and counting!)

One salient feature is that it’s free with Windows 10 E3 and E5 licenses (Or with Microsoft 365, which is a bundle that includes Windows). On first glance, this sounded a bit anti-competitive to some people.

But what this boils down to is that Windows 10 E3 and E5 purchased with an Enterprise Agreement and Software Assurance come with with virtual desktop access rights (VDA), and you could just as easily take those licenses and use them with another VDI or DaaS offering. And of course, you still have to pay for all the compute and storage for the workload VMs. (On Azure, of course, but more on that later.)

So what are they giving away? It’s just an Azure-based management plane, which as several folks, including Freek Berson on Twitter, have pointed out (but was not officially mentioned) is the evolution of Remote Desktop modern infrastructure.

For sure, giving this away for free is way more competitive than other vendors that charge $15 a month for their cloud-based desktop virtualization management planes, but that’s Microsoft’s prerogative. What are Windows Virtual Desktop services are going to cost Microsoft? Five cents worth of Azure compute per user per month? That’s a great deal Microsoft, considering they’ll get all the Azure usage from the desktop workloads.

Windows Virtual Desktop does have some holes around profile management, Outlook and OneDrive cache management, and so on, but that’s where the partners will step in. And if this really is a big deal to Microsoft, I’m sure they’ll take care of it in one way or another.

Bigger questions surrounding Windows Virtual Desktop

There are a few big unanswered questions, still.

First, will you be able to use Windows 10 Enterprise for Virtual Desktop, a.k.a. the new multi-user Windows 10 version, in other locations? All of Microsoft’s language right now (in blog posts and as quoted by Mary Jo Foley) indicates that it’s Azure-only, only for use with the Windows Virtual Desktop service.

Next, if you’re using Windows Virtual Desktop to manage a workload based on a Windows Server VM, do you need an RDS CAL? Also, since WVD will support Windows 10 workloads, does that mean we’re allowed to do Windows 7 on shared hardware? I haven’t heard the answer to these quite yet, but they shouldn’t be too hard to find.

Where these questions come together is in the future of RDSH.

Clearly, running desktop apps—and even having a GUI at in the first place—are on their way out for Windows Server. I wholeheartedly agree with the idea that RDSH has a limited future in light of multi-user Windows 10.

If Microsoft does kill off RDSH, you would think that they would have to let people use multi-user Windows 10 in other clouds and on premises, and with other management systems. If they didn’t open up multi-user Windows 10 but went ahead and killed off RDSH, that would be one of those crazy anti-competitive moves that would bring out the pitchforks.

In fact, things are already headed this way, considering all the Windows 10 features that you can’t get with RDSH on Server 2019, so it’s probably time to start making some noise.

On the other hand, the fully-realized version of this scenario is a couple years down the road. By then, don’t you think we’ll be ready to just do VDI for everything? I mean, multi-user Windows 10 will still have occasional app compatibility and security issues, and infrastructure providers are getting so fast at building up and tearing down VMs. Doing VDI with full normal desktop VMs could easily make sense for almost all use cases.

I also wonder if at some point, Microsoft will open up Windows Virtual Desktop-managed workloads to other locations (on premises and/or other clouds). That’s harder to imagine today, so I’m not holding my breath, but it’s another thing to think about.

The competition

As of Tuesday, I’m thinking that Windows Virtual Desktop is slightly less of a big deal to Citrix and VMware then I was thinking on Monday. It’s just one bit of infrastructure, and it almost feels like, “yes, this should come with Windows!”

Citrix and Microsoft will still have their own agents, analytics, security, protocols, clients, and halos of other products and services to offer, plus WVD covers the parts that Citrix is bad at.

Now, this doesn’t mean that they’re completely in the clear, competition-wise, but this is only one small component in an EUC stack.

Final thoughts

It’s actually far too early to have final thoughts, but this is where I stand for now. It’s time to go stream some Ignite sessions!

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"Wow I have no words for what I just saw on the Citrix Cloud. As it is marketed as a cloud based service, I was expecting cloud/Azure app like experience for all components. NOT the case. Studio launches within a session with the HTML5 client. Legacy tech embedded in the cloud".
So? Whether you manage CWC via h5 or a receiver session what's the difference? It's not your infrastructure which is the whole point of CWC. Honestly, find a better leg to stand on please before bringing that nonsense here. I like debates, but that's hardly one even worth responding to.
That was the first tweet in a thread (linked above) where a few people described having to call Citrix to have them reboot components (which is what I intended to highlight). That was in July, so things may have improved, but either way, the Citrix Cloud has to deal with this perception.

(Having said that, Microsoft may have to worry about people's memories of ARA, so there's that...)

Anyway, I seem to recall you commented a while back about considering Citrix Cloud—were you able to make that move yet? Anything to share?
So? It's damn legacy. I don't pay for crap. 
@Nickcasa5, one word. "Reliability". I don't know why anybody would spend time without confidence in the services reliability. Is there compelling customer evidence? RDMi will be basic for a long time. If it's free in E3/E5, why will Microsoft invest to make it great? Will they count on Citrix to fill the gaps? That could take years. Will VMware, Workspot or others also build on top, just like CloudJumper is planning? I'm really curious to know the details of how Citrix will build on top of RDMi. If they or others do, doesn't that mean they have failed at their own thing? I smell a lot of marketing and see no detail. Why would anybody build on top of RDMi until it is mature? That may happen over time, but for now, all I see is announcements. I think the biggest winner here is Amazon Workspaces, who will just keeping getting more customer proof points, while Microsoft has not shipped anything. All I can think is Microsoft just needs a check box against Amazon in the cloud portfolio marketing wars. The consumption of it is secondary with license and partner games. So I think it's very important to find evidence of success. I also think this is very bad for Citrix. Why pay the C Tax on top of WVD? The value is not clear at all. Citrix can't keep saying HDX. If that was the case VMware could say Blast...
Antitrust issues? Windows and Azure are separate products and MSFT is messing with AWS and VMWare.
@rainbow1. CloudJumper has already built on top of RDmi. Our platform works today in Azure and will fully support MS WVD as soon as it's launched. Feel free to reach out to me and I'll be happy to show you how we extend what's available today in Azure and what we'll be able to do with MS WVD once it's launched. ie. it's no vaporware.
I think Microsoft laid two golden eggs here:-
1) release of multi-user Windows - I don't know of many use cases where customers would cling to a server platform for RDS if the multi-user client platform delivers the whole desktop experience with all the components users expect for desktop replacement working & supported as mainstream.
2) Office365 optimisations - haven't seen detail around this, but apparently work has already been done to make this solution a superior experience with O365.
The breadth of release activity for O/M365 is immense. Alongside the clear drive for customers to 'adopt the Modern Desktop' I think Microsoft are addressing blockers to cloud migration for larger customers with on-prem VDI installations knowing that they'll bring their data with them. (Don't forget the App Assure thing - MS promise to fix any app compat for you)

It also releases the brakes on cloud migration for those committed to legacy Win7 installations too. 

However, if you're not on Azure...

Unless/until MS are ready make those two golden eggs available to customers/partners outside of Azure, RDSH will be an ugly sister (excuse me mixing my fairytales) who's already waited since 2016 to get the experience right and yet is the only option available to you. 

Unless you give everything to MS. 
Regarding the end of RDSH, Microsoft never mentions (at least not that i can find) the words "Multi-user Windows 10" or "Windows 10 Enterprise Multi-session". MS if very careful with their words. They only refer to it as "multi-user Windows 10 experience" which, to me, is just a Server 2016 RDS desktop with desktop experience setting enabled. To deliver a persistent VDI desktop experience, they have announced partnerships with other technologies to achieve this (eg. FSLogix, Lakeside, etc). So, to me, RDSH is far from dead. I think Microsoft will be leaning on it more than ever since it's the most efficient way to scale out DaaS environment. this is "RDMi evolved".
Watch for the Ignite Microsoft Mechanics releases for a session on Desktop Virtualization with Windows 10/O365. From memory you'll see either a task manager view of a Windows 10 client showing multiple users, or a view of the System dialog window showing the Windows 10 Enterprise Multisession SKU name. 
It's Win10 multi-user. Living under a rock, mate? 
....First, will you be able to use Windows 10 Enterprise for Virtual Desktop, a.k.a. the new multi-user Windows 10 version, in other locations? All of Microsoft’s language right now (in blog posts and as quoted by Mary Jo Foley) indicates that it’s Azure-only, only for use with the Windows Virtual Desktop service...


I would infer, going forward, it is in MSFT's interest to lets Windows 10 multi-user run in other locations. Why?

1) Compute and storage on public cloud isn't where vendors will make a lot of money. That's just infrastructure. It's the OS licenses, connection licenses and mgmt. that makes vendors a lot of money. MSFT would love for other cloud vendors to sell Windows 10 Enterprise and connection licenses. Why not?

2) Having more ISVs create effective mgmt. (on Azure or otherwise) around Windows 10 Enterprise, in turn creates more marketing and revenue for Windows 10. Customers can then choose from the various options. Why restrict them to RDMi or a few derivatives.

3) There are a lot of customers who'd like to run Windows 10 multi-user in on-prem data centers. Why would MSFT force them to move to Azure when running a hybrid cloud is the way to the future.

Unless MSFT wants Windows 10 Enterprise multi-user to be an Azure only appliance and not a platform for customers to adopt. 

Anyone have other thoughts? 
Interesting times. Lot of announcements. No real software in the market