WVD is now AVD… What does this mean?

In 2018 Microsoft launched Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD). This product has proved to be essential for businesses all over the world. When a global pandemic broke out just over a year later, we all had to adapt and provide our workforce with remote capabilities that didn’t sacrifice security, management, and employee productivity. WVD did just that by providing the best virtualised Windows and Office experience for a multi-user environment, delivered on Microsoft Azure.

In June 2021, Microsoft announced a rebrand of WVD to Azure Virtual Desktop or AVD. Now, what does this mean? The good news is, it’s not a brand-new product. What’s in a name? Turns out a lot – in this case. It will have the same great capabilities and security with some great additions to broaden its capabilities.

Enhancements will continue to evolve but with the initial release, the main focus is preparing to broaden the AVD product with new capabilities and integrations, focusing on security and management aspects around AVD. The goal is to deliver a flexible Azure based VDI platform for any use case.

New features include:

Enhanced support for Azure Active Directory
– Integration with Azure Active Directory (AAD) provides the ability to join AVD virtual machines directly to AAD. This allows further simplified connection to the virtual machines from any device. Including Azure AD joined session hosts, not only eliminates the additional complexity of requiring Active Directory, it unlocks single sign-on (SSO), allows easier integration with Microsoft Endpoint Manager, and gives new security capabilities from streamlined management of session host VMs via Azure AD. 

Manage Windows 10 Enterprise multi-session virtual machines with Microsoft Endpoint Manager – this means that both physical and virtual desktops can be managed through Microsoft Endpoint Manager (MEM). We have been able to manage personal, single-session desktops for a while now, but multi-session support for MEM is now released in preview.

Deploy in minutes with new onboarding experience – Giving you the ability to validate requirements, start an automated deployment. This is also implemented with best practices. In only a few clicks, you can set up a full Azure Virtual Desktop environment in your Azure subscription. This particular change of WVD Quickstart being incorporated into the Azure portal experience is particularly exciting to us at Eighty20. We started working with this as soon as it was unveiled in Ignite 2020 and customised it for Australian users, and it’s great to see the validation here.

New pricing options for remote app streaming – this feature is aimed at software publishers or Independent Software Vendors (ISVs). To date, WVD licensing wasn’t very clear when it came to scenarios suitable for ISVs.  AVD will now offer a monthly per-user access pricing option for businesses to use Azure Virtual Desktop to deliver apps from the cloud to external users. This enables software vendors to deliver their app as a SaaS solution that can be accessed by their customers, which may be a game changer for ISV organisations where the apps are delivered in the context of desktops. In addition to the monthly user price for Azure Virtual Desktop, businesses also pay for Azure infrastructure services based on usage.

To support this, Microsoft is offering a promotion for ISV app streaming in AVD. Starting with no charge to access Azure Virtual Desktop for streaming first-party or third-party applications to external users. This promotion is effective from July 14, 2021, to December 31, 2021.

Pricing for monthly user access rights effective on January 1, 2022, will be:
•    $5.50 per user per month (Apps)
•    $10 per user per month (Apps + Desktops)

Important note: no technical changes have been made to AVD as part of this remote app streaming announcement.  It is just a new licensing model for a specific ISV use-case. 

Eighty20 Solutions is an Azure Virtual Desktop specialist and Microsoft ISV TopGun partner. Let us help you get started on the road to a flexible cloud VDI platform for the hybrid workplace.