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.