What we know so far about Windows Virtual Desktops. Yes, here we go again.

My last blog post about WVD created a huge discussion on Twitter and in less than a couple days already reached close to 1,500 views and for the Twitter specialists out there, over 6,500 impressions with a healthy 17% engagement rate.

All that was written in that post was based off what we knew from Microsoft Ignite and further interactions on Twitter with several people, Scott Manchester included. If you do not know Scott, he is the Group Manager for RDS within Microsoft.

Of course given the fire that was out due to that post, he read it and a couple days later replied to my tweet with the following:

And right after, he replied to someone else’s question:

With that in mind, what did we learn and what can we deduct from all this?

  • Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) seems to be what RDS (or more precisely RDmi) will be called moving forward. So it is more like a brand name for an umbrella of solutions running under it. That includes Windows Server 2012 R2 to 2019 (with the RDSH role we assume) and any desktop OS from Windows 7 (assumed to be SP1) to the latest Windows 10 build, with or without its new multi-user capabilities enabled.
  • If you decide you do need Windows 10 with multi-user capabilities, you can have it, as long as that machine is running on Azure.
  • Why did I mention RDmi (what stands for ‘Remote Desktop Modern Infrastructure)? If you do not know what RDmi is, the short version is, it was supposed to be an Azure service that replaces all the RDS components (except RDSH). With RDmi, the control plane (brokering, web access, gateway) runs as a service on Azure. Then, on all the machines you want to make available to your users, you load an ‘agent’, similar to what the Parallels Agent or the Citrix VDA does. Based on Scott’s reply, it seems that WVD will be that. All the control plane made available on Azure. You then load this ‘VDA’ on any machine you have either on-premises or in the cloud. As he does not mention anything regarding physical vs virtual machines or even which clouds, I have to assume that you could even load the ‘VDA’ on a physical box (server or desktop OS) and even on VMs running on different clouds (i.e. AWS). The only exception to this, as per his second reply, seems to be Windows 10. If multi-user, it has to run on Azure. Otherwise, as long as you bring your own licenses AND reach the minimum number required, it seems that you could host Windows 10 single-user on AWS, with the control plane on Azure.

I think this is exactly what WVD is and what it means for everyone trying to understand the mess created given the information relayed during Ignite and the lack of information thereafter. As I mentioned to Scott on Twitter, the key thing is proper communication with the industry and their own customers. After all they are not Mickey-Mouse software house, even though sometimes it appears to be the case.

So resuming:

  • WVD seems to be a much bigger thing, an umbrella for all what we know today as RDS (RDSH or VDI).
  • Its control plane will be potentially an Azure thing, with no need anymore for the traditional RDS roles (broker/web access/gateway).
  • If you need Windows 10 multi-user, you need Azure.

Keep in mind this is what we know as of February 2019 and as I am no longer an MVP I may be completely wrong. On top of that, as before, there is nothing that prevents Scott from going on Twitter and posting that I am insane and that WVD will run on any cloud and on-premises as well. And support Windows XP as long as you pay huge amounts to Microsoft.

Until then, take all this with a grain of salt. A bag actually.


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The Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) BS.

Of course after all these years listening to the doomsday fanboys that every year would be the year of VDI, people got tired of that joke. Knowing the EUC industry likes a good joke, Microsoft had to come up with something.

So for your amusement, Ladies and Gentlemen, Microsoft brings you Windows Virtual Desktops! WVD for short or just Windows Virtual Delusion as I decided to call it.

If you follow the right people on Twitter, you will notice that my ol’pal Steve Greenberg tweeted this:

” Well Thin Client/Server Based Computing has come full circle. Excessive application resource requirements and various compat issues, mostly with OS patches, are introducing scalability issues and stability problems on shared server OS pushing VDI to be increasingly preferable “

Translating this to plain English, he is implying that due to compatibility issues and patches in a SERVER OS platform (i.e. Window Server 2016, Windows Server 2019), VDI is growing. We can logically imply that if VDI is being used for that, this means VDI has way less compatibility issues AND is virtually immune to OS patches. This is not my analysis though; this is simply what is written in that tweet.

Now, where is the problem? First of all, if you are using Windows 10, you probably noticed the damn thing is updated more often then you recharge the battery on your Windows 10 device. In other words, a nightmare for users (and therefore, to IT). Sure you can stick to Windows 7 for VDI, Assuming you do that, then the compatibility issue should be either bogus or non-existent as the apps in this case are so old that it is almost certain people already found ways to run these apps on a Server OS either by using something like App-V or by fixing whatever had to be fixed with the stupid app.

But what about Windows 10 and app compatibility? If we leave Office out of the picture for now, most LOB apps were NOT developed specifically for Windows 10 and should either work just fine on Windows Server multi-user or require minor tweaks to get it working.

Regarding resource requirements, Windows Desktop OS or Server OS should not matter. Worst case I simply give a single server VM to the user, what VDI does. Simple.

Now bringing Office to the picture, the story changes. Before we get to that, let’s take a look at the whole WVD thing that by now you know it is an Azure thing only.

If you remember, a couple years ago Microsoft brought us another joke: ARA. If you are not aware of what this is, you can stop reading here and close this post. Azure RemoteApp (ARA) was Microsoft’s attempt on having an Azure based service to host applications for companies out there. When it was being planned, many people in the industry (mostly Microsoft MVPs), when asked by Microsoft about their thoughts regarding it, explicitly told them it would fluke. It would fail like the Titanic did.

Thinking that most MVPs are idiots, Microsoft told us (at the time I was an MVP) we were wrong and that ARA was the next big thing. In ways they were right. It was the next big thing that would fail miserably, pretty much a cloud-based Microsoft Bob.

Fast forward to 2018, with Microsoft and a pile of other companies trying to shift their revenue model to a cloud-based one, Microsoft now brings us WVD. With it, it brought requirements/limitations that force people to use Azure. First, it is only available on Azure. Secondly, do you need Office 365? Guess what, Office 365 will no longer run on multi-user Server OS (RDSH) but wait, it runs on multi-user Desktop OS (WVD). What means, you have to go for Azure.

The bottom line is, they cannot fail one more time with a solution to deliver Windows apps and desktops on Azure. ARA was ugly enough. If they screw it up again, I can bet many people will be invited to work for Amazon or Google.

The beauty here is, no matter what you and I think, you have no option. Cloud will be pushed down your throat and you will have to use WVD, like it or not. At least based on what we know today. If there is enough push back on this, maybe and a HUGE maybe, we may see WVD (multi-user Windows 10) as an option for on-premises deployments. But do not count on that.

Now on the Office topic: Office and Office 365 are different beasts but in many cases these are treated as the exact same thing. Most LOB apps as we know, could not give a bigger shit if I can save crap to OneDrive or not. Or if Microsoft Teams is available. For LOB apps, Office means Excel, Outlook or Word integration. Everything else is irrelevant. This probably means Windows Server 2019 with Office 2019 should still be able to work just fine with the LOB apps, assuming these do not have specific ties/requirements for a particular Office version. Of course for users not using these LOB apps, and simply relying on Microsoft Office as they know on their own devices, Office 365 may be what they want/need. What leads us to the right tool for the job. Two platforms, one delivering the LOB apps, one delivering Office 365, what is just fine with me.

So before you put the nail on the RDSH coffin, please remember ARA. Take a minute of silence remembering how many hours of PMs, developers and marketing that died in vain. And keep in mind that WVD may be the next ARA.

Resuming: be careful about the boat you decide to board. The Titanic was all pretty and shiny and we know what happened with it.


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