Microsoft announced today that their new Windows Virtual Desktop product is now available for public preview. This technology allows the enterprise to move their desktops and applications into Azure and be hosted on Windows 10 and Windows 7 operating systems that are always secured with the latest updates.

Windows Virtual Desktop was privately being tested by select organizations while Microsoft fine tuned the offering. Now as long as you have an Azure subscription, which you can try for free for 12 months, anyone can test deploying apps and desktops to the cloud.

In order to use the service, administrators will create a tenant in Azure and publish desktops and applications to it. These available services will then be made available in “feeds” that users scan subscribe to using a new Windows Virtual Desktop client called “Remote Desktop”.

It is important to note that even though this application is called Remote Desktop, it is actually the Windows Virtual Desktop client and not the app of the same name that comes pre-installed in Windows. Microsoft may want to consider rethinking the name of this client.

Windows 7 gets an extension on life

With the upcoming End of Life/End of Support for Windows 7 coming in January 2020, Microsoft is recommending users upgrade to Windows 10. To push this, Microsoft released an update yesterday for Windows 7 SP1 that displays a notification that alerts users to this upcoming end of support.

For organizations who require Windows 7 and are not ready to make the jump to Windows 10, Microsoft is offering an interesting incentive to use their Windows Virtual Desktop product. That is the ability to continue using Windows 7 by hosting the apps and desktops in the Azure cloud.

Even better, Windows 7 Virtual Desktop instances will get free extended security updates until 2023

This will allow these organizations to upgrade their local workstations to Windows 10, but continue to utilize any required Windows 7 applications through a Windows Virtual Desktop. As an extra bonus, Windows Virtual Desktop users also get enhanced access and support for Office 365 ProPlus.

Considerations when using the Windows Virtual Desktop preview

As these Virtual Desktops are going to be running within the cloud, in order to properly use them a company needs to make sure that there network connectivity is adequate and that hosting sensitive data in the cloud does not violate company or government regulations.

Microsoft also warns that although desktops can be deployed on VMs in any region, the data and management solution will reside in the United States US East 2 region during the public preview

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