What is Azure Virtual Desktop?

Azure Virtual Desktop is a desktop and app virtualization service that runs on Azure. Here's some of the key highlights:

  • Deliver a full Windows experience with Windows 11, Windows 10, or Windows Server. Use single-session to assign devices to a single user, or use multi-session for scalability.

  • Offer full desktops or use RemoteApp to deliver individual apps.

  • Present Microsoft 365 Apps for enterprise and optimize it to run in multi-user virtual scenarios.

  • Install your line-of-business or custom apps you can run from anywhere, including apps in the formats Win32, MSIX, and Appx.

  • Deliver Software-as-a-service (SaaS) for external usage.

  • Replace existing Remote Desktop Services (RDS) deployments.

  • Manage desktops and apps from different Windows and Windows Server operating systems with a unified management experience.

  • Host desktops and apps on-premises in a hybrid configuration with Azure Stack HCI.

Introductory video

Learn about Azure Virtual Desktop (formerly Windows Virtual Desktop), why it's unique, and what's new in this video:

You can find more videos about Azure Virtual Desktop from Microsoft Mechanics.

Key capabilities

With Azure Virtual Desktop, you can set up a scalable and flexible environment:

  • Create a full desktop virtualization environment in your Azure subscription without running any gateway servers.

  • Flexible configurations to accommodate your diverse workloads.

  • Bring your own image for production workloads or test from the Azure Gallery.

  • Reduce costs with pooled, multi-session resources. With the new Windows 11 and Windows 10 Enterprise multi-session capability, exclusive to Azure Virtual Desktop, or Windows Server, you can greatly reduce the number of virtual machines and operating system overhead while still providing the same resources to your users.

  • Provide individual ownership through personal (persistent) desktops.

  • Automatically increase or decrease capacity based on time of day, specific days of the week, or as demand changes with autoscale, helping to manage cost.

You can deploy and manage virtual desktops and applications:

  • Use the Azure portal, Azure CLI, PowerShell and REST API to configure the host pools, create application groups, assign users, and publish resources.

  • Publish a full desktop or individual applications from a single host pool, create individual application groups for different sets of users, or even assign users to multiple application groups to reduce the number of images.

  • As you manage your environment, use built-in delegated access to assign roles and collect diagnostics to understand various configuration or user errors.

  • Use the new diagnostics service to troubleshoot errors.

  • Only manage the image and virtual machines, not the infrastructure. You don't need to personally manage the Remote Desktop roles like you do with Remote Desktop Services, just the virtual machines in your Azure subscription.

Connect users:

  • Once assigned, users can launch any Azure Virtual Desktop client to connect to their published Windows desktops and applications. Connect from any device through either a native application on your device or the Azure Virtual Desktop HTML5 web client.

  • Securely establish users through reverse connections to the service, so you don't need to open any inbound ports.

Next steps

Here are some other articles to learn about Azure Virtual Desktop: