Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Azure Saturday Munich - recap!

On May 18th I presented a session at the Azure Saturday Event, hosted at the Microsoft HQ in Munich. I have presented there in the past, and it was great to be back again this year. Over 400 attendees attended this year’s event! Huge thanks and shout out to the organizers Benjamin Abt (@Abt_Benjamin), Thomas Janetscheck (@azureandbeyond) and Max Melcher (@maxmelcher) for their unlimited energy to make this event an awesome experience!

The organizers kicked off the event in the mail hall of the Microsoft building.

Chris Heilmann opened the event with a keynote session on Building human interfaces powered by AI.

After that I presented my session on Windows Virtual Desktop. I covered the scenarios, use cases and technical architecture and performed a live demo of admin and end user experience. I got a great crowd! Lot’s of interest of Windows Virtual Desktop and great interaction during and after the session. Thanks everyone who joined my session!

With over 400 attendees, 26 sessions and 30 speakers it was an amazing community event! I hope to be back next year and hope to see you there!

Thursday, March 21, 2019

FSLogix for everyone!

Last November Microsoft announced the acquisition of FSLogix.

“…Office 365 ProPlus is currently the best Office experience, and, with FSLogix enabling faster load times for user profiles in Outlook and OneDrive, Office 365 ProPlus will become even more performant in multi-user virtual environments (including Windows Virtual Desktop)…”

The main question that was left behind was what the licensing model would be like. Integrated into a Microsoft 365 license or O365 license? What about on premises deployments? Is it only going to be available on Azure?


FSLogix may be used when you have the one of the following licenses:

· Microsoft 365 E3/A3
· Microsoft 365 E5/A5
· Microsoft F1, Business
· Windows 10 Enterprise E3/E5
· Windows 10 Education A3/A5
· Windows 10 VDA per user
· Remote Desktop Services (RDS) CAL

The entitlements that have been announced are not yet in effect. Currently this is expected to be around the June timeframe. In the meantime, FSLogix solutions can be used with a trial key that lasts well beyond June and without limitations in the product. Request trials here.

We could see the Windows 10 and Microsoft 365 statements coming, but it’s super great that RDS CAL is included in this! This basically means, FSLogix for everyone! And this is not limited to the FSLogix O365 container, it applies to the full suite: O365 Container, Profile Container, AppMasking and Java redirection!

In our opinion this the best answer to all of the licensing questions and concerns out there! We can continue to have the best Office 365 experience whether it is On Premises, Azure IaaS or Windows Virtual Desktop!

Windows Virtual Desktop: Public Preview Available

As of today, Windows Virtual Desktop is available in Public Preview! Having been part of the private preview since the early releases of RDmi, it’s great to see it being available for everyone to test drive as part of the public preview!

To get started, follow this link for more information: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/blog/2019/03/21/windows-virtual-desktop-public-preview/

We can now also share some more details on the licensing of Windows Virtual Desktop. If you want to use Windows 10 Multi Session as the operating system, you can do so based on either of the following licenses

· Microsoft 365 E3/A3
· Microsoft 365 E5/A5
· Microsoft F1, Business
· Windows 10 Enterprise E3/E5
· Windows 10 Education A3/A5
· Windows 10 VDA per user

You can also use the Windows Server as a “traditional” RD Session Host role for Windows Virtual Desktop. What you only need in that case is

· Remote Desktop Services (RDS) CAL

To get started with Windows Virtual Desktop, check out this page: http://aka.ms/wvdpreview If you have questions or if you are looking for help setting up Windows Virtual Desktop, feel free to reach out!

You can expect follow up articles here on setting and using up Windows Virtual Desktop!

If you are not yet familiar with Windows Virtual Desktop, the explanation below is how Microsoft describes the service.

“…Windows Virtual Desktop enables you to create a full desktop virtualization environment in your Azure subscription without having to run any additional gateway servers. You can publish as many host pools as you need to accommodate your diverse workloads. You can use the Windows Virtual Desktop PowerShell and REST interfaces to configure the host pools, create app groups, assign users, and publish resources. Once assigned, users can launch any Windows Virtual Desktop client to connect to their published Windows desktops and applications. Users are securely established through reverse connections to the service, so you never have to leave any inbound ports open. For ongoing maintenance of your Windows Virtual Desktop environment, you can use built-in delegated access to assign roles and collect diagnostics to understand various configuration or user errors…”
Source: Windows Virtual Desktop Guide.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Microsoft Ignite | The Tour 2018-2019, you can still join!

If you have not heard about Microsoft Ignite | The Tour, it is a 2-day technical Microsoft conference where you can gather the latest information on both the Developers and IT Pro side. And, you can attend for free! Since the event is traveling to 20 cities worldwide, you can select the city that is most convenient for you. This is how Microsoft described the event;

“…Join us at the place where developers and tech professionals continue learning alongside experts. Explore the latest developer tools and cloud technologies and learn how to put your skills to work in new areas. Connect with our community to gain practical insights and best practices on the future of cloud development, data, IT, and business intelligence…”

With 9 more cities to go you can still be part of it! I had great pleasure presenting at 2 of the editions so far in Berlin and Johannesburg and hope to see you in an upcoming city! The topics I covered where Remote Desktop Services and Windows Virtual Desktop.
You can download the slide decks from my sessions using the below links. Do note these are demo heavy sessions, so the slide decks are not that detailed, but I hope to see you at one of the other cities soon! If you have questions, feel free to reach out via Twitter or LinkedIn.

Windows Virtual Desktop, the Future of App and Desktop Delivery on Azure!
Become an ARM Hero and Deploy RDS on Azure in Under 30 Minutes

    Microsoft Ignite | The Tour, Johannesburg, January 2019

     Microsoft Ignite | The Tour, Berlin, December 2018

Monday, October 29, 2018

Windows 10 Multi-Session as the RDSH of the future (and running Edge as a published App!)

By now, you most likely heard about Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) as the evolution of RDmi and how Windows10 Multi-session is part of that evolution. If not, these announcements we’re all made public during Microsoft Ignite 2018 last month. I previously published a blog post on news that was shared in a post that is called Windows Virtual Desktop, RDS 2019 and Multi Session Windows 10, What a week and I covered a recap of the sessions I presented myself in Orlando called Presented 2 sessions at Microsoft Ignite 2018, Orlando.

I have been part of the RDmi private preview program since the early days, almost a year ago, and I’ve had the privileged to test the early WVD platform as well. In this blog post I want to focus on one of the benefits of WVD, the ability to use Windows10 Multi-session.
At Ignite 2018, Microsoft officially announced the Windows10 Multi-Session, the first official multi-user Windows 10 version that allowed multiple concurrent users to connect. This basically means that Windows10 can now also be used as an “RD Session Host server”, where this was previously only possible using a Windows Server operating system. So why is this interesting and how is this beneficial for publishing Applications and Desktops?

Let’s look at the three pillars in the below diagram (credits to various Microsoft Slide Decks used at Microsoft Ignite 2018).


- On the left-hand side, we have Windows Server RD Session Host. Traditionally, this has been widely used option to publish Applications and Desktops using RDS. The great thing about Windows Server RD Session Host is that it allows users to share available resources. Multiple users can connect to a server simultaneously making a very flexible, cost-effective and easy to manage solution. The obvious downside of this solutions is that it is based on Windows Server. This means that the user is presented with a different experience compared to his local modern Windows10. Modern Apps like for example Edge and Cortana are not available and it’s all based on a Long-Term Service Release.

- On the right-hand side we have Windows 10 in a Pooled or Personal VDI-like setup. Compared to Windows Server RD Session Host, this setup does allow the user to get the modern experience he is used to, including Universal Windows Apps. One of the downsides of this approach has always been that this is a one-to-one setup. Whether is a pooled or personal setup, every user runs his own Windows 10. This adds additional challenges in terms of scaling, complexity and in most scenarios resulted in less cost-effective setup. Over the years, many vendors have however been developing great suites and tools to remove parts of the complexity, add scaling and trim down the costs.

- In the middle Microsoft introduced Windows 10 Multi-Session, and this is basically best of both worlds. This approach has the multi-user benefits of RD Session Host and the modern experience benefits from Windows 10. What’s also important to note is that going forward, Windows 10 will be the only option to run Office 365 Pro Plus. Windows Server 2019 will only support Office 2019 Perpetual meaning you will miss out the all of the collaboration features.

With all of the improvements of RDS in Windows Server 2019, Microsoft is definitely not giving up on RD Session Host. But based on the all of the arguments outline above, I’d state that Windows 10 Multi-User is the RD Session Host of the future. There is one caveat worth mentioning, Windows 10 multi-user only comes with WVD meaning you cannot run this outside of Azure. For workloads that cannot move to Azure, Windows Server 2019 will be the way to go.

There are two questions I get very frequently when talking to people about WVD.

- Microsoft introduced RDmi last year, is WVD replacing RDmi?
The answer is no. WVD is evolved on RDmi and uses the RDmi platform rather than replacing it. This means that all of the good things of RDmi like Multi Tenancy and AAD support still exist. The main difference is that you will not be hosting the RDS infrastructure roles in your own subscription (the model that RDmi was) but instead Microsoft will host them for you.

- Does Windows Virtual Desktop only support publishing Full Desktops and not RemoteApps?
The answer is no again. Despite the name Windows Virtual Desktop, a Host Pool in WVD is very flexible and can publish Full Desktop and RemoteApps. It can even host a mix of Desktops and Remote Apps coming from servers and clients that go back as far back as Windows7 (with free extended support) and Windows Server 2012R2!

Windows Virtual Desktop can be provisioned using the Azure Marketplace and using ARM Templates. Below is a preview screenshot of the marketplace entry, note that this may be subject to change.


Once WVD is provisioned, management can be performed using PowerShell or Rest API.

In the below screenshot you can see a mix of RemoteApps and Full Desktop within the HTML5 client of WVD. The RemoteApps as well the Full Desktop is based on Windows 10 Multi-Session.


And you can see even Edge (not available in a Windows Server RDSH) is now published here as a RemoteApp! And yes, that means I can run Microsoft Edge inside Chrome! :)


Besides HTML5, I can also leverage the RemoteApp & Desktops Connections applet and configure it with the WebFeed URL from WVD resulting, in the WVD Desktop & RemoteApps available in my local start menu!


Here is Edge Running as a RemoteApp using the full mstsc experience. You can tell it is a RemoteApp by looking at the taskbar where an RDP icon appears over the Edge icon.


When opening Winver and Task Manager we get prove that this really is the multi-user version of Windows 10.


And for the 3rd most asked question:

- When will WVD become available?
WVD is planned to become Public Preview soon (later this year) and General Availability is expected early 2019. If you want to get a notification as soon as the Public Preview is available, sign up here: aka.ms/wvdpreview.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Presented 2 sessions at Microsoft Ignite 2018, Orlando

During Microsoft Ignite 2018 last week in Orlando, I had the opportunity to present 2 sessions. In this blog post I want to elaborate some more on my experiences during Ignite.

IMG_0389IMG_0504 (1)

My first session was on Monday at 7PM. A challenging time slot, but a lot of people showed up, which was great! The session was called “Become an ARM hero and deploy RDS on Azure in under 30 minutes” (THR3114).


The key takeaway was providing the audience the right tools and skills to get started with automated deployments of Remote Desktop Services on Azure IaaS. With Windows Virtual Desktop being announced during the Ignite Technical Keynotes, I was also able to hook onto those announcements and explain how RDS on Azure IaaS is a great step to get prepared for Windows Virtual Desktop in the future!


After the brief introduction I performed a demo of an Azure Resource Manager (ARM) template that creates a full High Available RDS deployment in Azure. I covered how the template is built up, how to launch it and I showed the end results from an end user, as well as from an admin perspective.

The session and live demo went very well, and I received great feedback and questions afterwards from attendees. Many of them were amazed by the number of configurations and installations the ARM templates automated. The session received great feedback scores via the evaluation forms. I’m really happy with the outcome of the session!

My second session, I co-presented with Benny Tritsch on Thursday at noon. This session was called “Measuring perceived end user experience in RDS, and why you should care” (THR3089).We started the session by explaining the importance of measuring user experience by capturing and analyzing what is perceived by the user and shared a couple of real life uses cases.


In the second half of the session we performed live demo’s REX Analytics which allows you to visualize a comparison of the perceived end user experience between different scenarios. The session was very well received, and we received some great feedback scores via the evaluation forms.


I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone for attending my sessions, for the many great conversations afterwards and for providing great feedback!

During Microsoft Ignite, the book that I co-authored with Claudio Rodriguez was also being sold at the book store at Ignite. We sold a lot copies throughout the week and I signed many of them personally. It was a great honor to have our book being sold at the conference! The book is also available as eBook and hard copy via Amazon.



Besides presenting my 2 sessions and attending many others, Microsoft Ignite was mostly about connecting! It was great catching up with many of the RDS Product Team members, meeting a lot of other vendors and attendees, running into old friends and meeting new ones. I had a super great time and hope to be back in November for Ignite 2019!

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Windows Virtual Desktop, RDS 2019 and Multi Session Windows 10. What a week!

I’m at Microsoft Ignite 2018 this week in Orlando. Where a lot of announcements have been made in the RDS space. Being part of the MVP Community, we have the privilege of hearing about the future steps before they are made public. Now that the news has been made public, I want to share the announcements in the RDS space in this blog post. We’re seen announcements of a new services called Windows Virtual Desktop, details on the improvements of RDS in Windows Server 2019, the official announcement of Multi Session Windows 10 and much more!

Let’s start at the beginning. The general keynote by Satya Nadella was followed up by 3 main Technical Keynotes which were running at the same time. Windows Virtual Desktop got a lot of attention as it was announces in 2 of the Technical Keynotes. During the rest of the week several overview and deep dive session followed explaining Windows Virtual Desktop in more detail.

So, what is Windows Virtual Desktop?

Windows Virtual Desktop (let’s refer to it as WVD) is a service on Azure for VDI and RDSH management. Basically, it means Microsoft is now officially entering the DaaS space with a service of their own. WVD allows you to publish Desktops and RemoteApp programs using a managed RDS backend infrastructure that is fully managed by Microsoft on Azure. This means that you literally go to the Azure Marketplace, follow a wizard and create an RDS deployment in Azure. All of the RDS infrastructure roles (Broker, Web Access, Gateway) are all being managed for you. The only Virtual Machines that are running in your Azure Subscription are the RDSH or VDI machines. That raises a couple questions, wasn’t that what RDmi was? Is WVD replacing RDmi? I’m assuming you are familiar with Remote Desktop modern infrastructure (RDmi), if not check out one of my previous articles. But, the answer is that WVD is built upon the RDmi platform. So, it includes all of the great improvements that RDmi has like Azure AD, Conditional Access, MFA, Auto scale et cetera. The big difference with RDmi technical preview is that with RDmi you would host your own RDS infrastructure services (Azure Services) in your own subscription. You would be responsible for setting up those services and keeping them running. Microsoft evolved WVD into a full service. Which means that the Azure Services for the RDS infrastructure roles are fully managed by Microsoft. As a WVD customer you basically become a customer in their multi-tenant WVD environment. This means even less management compared to what RDmi was in past, and it allows for a full scalable service. Don’t get distracted by the name WVD, it does allow you to publish Full Desktops as well as RemoteApp applications. A major feature is also that this is not limited to publishing Windows Server 2016 or Windows 10. WVD allows you to publish a combination of Applications and Desktops coming from Windows 7 and up, and Windows Server 2012R2 and up! So, what about licensing? If you already have Microsoft365 E3/E5 or Windows E3/E5, the service is included! This means you will only be paying additionally for the IaaS costs of the RDSH / VDI machines. This licensing step is a great move by Microsoft! The timeline for WVD is that it will reach Public Preview later this year and General Availability will be in early 2019!

Multi Session Windows 10

This was the second big announcement, a multi session version of Windows 10! As MVP’s we were informed about this step a while back, and there was a rumor going on, on social media, but the news is now official. Microsoft is working on a multi session version of Windows 10. This is a major step in this space. This means the operating system om the client side and the one used to publish applications and desktops in Azure is identical. This means images can be shared between the two, and application support will be much better. Multi Session Windows 10 is not a separate product, it is part of Windows Virtual Desktop. This means that, at least for now, Multi Session Windows 10 can only be running in Azure. It also means Semi-annual updates are being available, which allows you to keep updating and a much faster pace. Furthermore, this step also introduces support for Modern Apps like Edge, Cortana and Microsoft Store. Besides all of this, Microsoft is also heavily investing in optimizing for Office 365 ProPlus. More details in that later!

Remote Desktop Services 2019

To be very clear, Windows Virtual Desktop is not replacing current RDS deployments based on IaaS. In fact, that are a series of improvements announced for Remote Desktop Services based on Windows Server 2019.

- RD Licensing can now update per-user licenses without direct contact to AD.

- A Licensing program rolling out for Cloud Solution Providers (CSP) is now available

- RD Licensing now supports true HA based on an SQL Database

- RDS Certificates can now be stored in Azure keyvault

- Discrete Device Assignment is improved a lot and as a results RemoteFX vGPU is being deprecated

- Video playback has been improved

- High-level redirection of built-in or attached video camera

- New perfmon counters are introduced to troubleshoot applications performance

With Windows Server 2019 being General Available and Windows Virtual Desktop being in public preview soon, we now have 2 ways of dealing with Remote Desktop Services. When do you use which version? Below is Microsoft’s message on this

Windows Virtual Desktop ideal if you want…

- Microsoft to manage the brokering infrastructure as a services

- Windows 10 Enterprise multi-session capabilities
Windows 7 Extended Security Updates

RDS 2019 ideal if you want…

- full end-to-end control of the desktop virtualization environment

- a private, isolated environment

- to extend current deployments

Consider this blog post a first quick overview of all that’s announced at Microsoft Ignite. As soon as I’ve had a change to test drive Windows Virtual Desktop, Multi Session Windows 10 and RDS 2019. I will create and publish more in depth articles covering my experiences.