Microsoft’s Windows Virtual Desktop

windows virtual desktop

Blog Written By | Microsoft 365

Windows Virtual Desktop is now generally available worldwide

In September this year, Microsoft released news of the Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) service with enhanced capabilities to increase productivity. Windows Virtual Desktop is the only service that delivers simplified management, a multi-session Windows 10 experience, optimizations for Office 365 ProPlus, and support for Windows Server Remote Desktop Services (RDS) desktop and apps. With Windows Virtual Desktop, you can deploy and scale your windows desktop and apps on Azure in minutes.

Since Microsoft announced Windows Virtual Desktop last September, and through the public preview announced in March, thousands of customers have piloted the service and taken advantage of the Windows 10 multi-session capability – validating the importance of this feature as a core part of the service. Customers also represented all major industries and geographies, helping Microsoft get feedback from different customer types and locations. As a result, the service is now available in all geographies. In addition, Windows Virtual Desktop client is available across Windows, Android, Mac, iOS, and HTML5.

With the end of extended support for Windows 7 coming in January 2020, Microsoft also understands some customers need to continue to support Windows 7 legacy applications as they migrate to Windows 10. To support this need, you can use WVD to virtualize Windows 7 desktops with free Extended Security Updates (ESU) until January 2023. If you’re in the process of migrating to Windows 10 and need app compatibility assistance, read more about how Microsoft can help with the Desktop App Assure program.

To help increase productivity, Microsoft invested heavily in the Office experience in a virtualized environment with native improvements, as well as through the acquisition of FSLogix. In July, Microsoft made the FSLogix technology available to Mircosoft 365, Windows 10 Enterprise, and RDS customers. Today, all FSLogix tools are fully integrated into WVD, enabling you to have the smoothest, most performant Office virtualization experience available today.

In addition to the significant architectural improvements for deployment and management, Microsoft is also simplifying app delivery by supporting MSIX packaged apps to be dynamically “attached” to a virtual machine instead of installing it permanently. This is important because it significantly decreases storage and makes it easier for the admin to manage and update the apps while creating a seamless experience for the user.

Check out the video from Scott Manchester, Principal Engineering Lead for WVD, where he does a great job of walking you through the app “attach” experience.

Extending WVD

Microsoft also worked closely with its partner ecosystem to help customers extend WVD and get the most out of existing virtualization investments.

  • Citrix can extend Windows Virtual Desktop worldwide, including support for Windows 10 multi-session, Windows 7 with free Extended Security Updates for up to three years, and support for Windows Server 2008 R2 with free Extended Security Updates on Azure. 
  • VMware Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure will extend Windows Virtual Desktop and its benefits, such as Windows 10 Enterprise multi-session and support for Windows 7 with free Extended Security Updates for up to three years. The preview will be available by the end of the calendar year.
  • Microsoft also engaged with hardware partners, system integrators (SI), who provide turnkey desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) offerings, and value-added solutions providers, who add capabilities such as printing, application layering, assessment, and monitoring on Azure Marketplace.

The general availability of Virtual Desktop is just the beginning. Microsoft will continue to rapidly innovate and invest in desktop and app virtualization. In the meantime, you can get started with Windows Virtual Desktop today.

Microsoft Office 365 now available from new South Africa cloud data centers

cloud data centers

As Microsoft strives to support the digital transformation of organizations and enterprises around the world, we continue to drive innovation and expand into new geographies to empower more customers with Office 365, the world’s leading cloud-based productivity solution, with more than 180 million commercial monthly active users. Today, we’re taking another step in our ongoing investment to help enable digital transformation and societal impact across Africa with the general availability of Office 365 services from our new cloud data centers in South Africa.

Office 365, delivered from local data centers in South Africa, helps our customers enable the modern workplace and empower their employees with real-time collaboration and cloud-powered intelligence while maintaining security, compliance, and in-country data residency. The addition of South Africa as new geography for Office 365 increases the option for secure, cloud productivity services combined with customer data residency in 16 geographies across the globe along with three additional geographies also announced.

In-country data residency for core customer data helps Office 365 customers meet regulatory requirements, which is particularly important and relevant in industries such as healthcare, financial services, and government – where organizations need to keep specific data in-country to comply with local requirements. Customer data residency provides additional assurance regarding data privacy and reliability for organizations and enterprises. Core customer data is stored only in their data center geography (Geo) – in this case, the cloud data centers within South Africa.

Customers like Altron and the Gauteng Provincial Government has used Office 365 to transform their workspaces. This latest development will enable them – and other organizations and enterprises adopting Office 365 – to ramp up their digital transformation journey.

Altron is committed to improving our infrastructure and embracing new a new strategy to become a cloud-first company to better serve our customers and empower our employees through modern collaboration. We’ve noticed a tangible difference since making the move to Office 365.” – Debra Marais, Lead, IT Shared Services at Altron

“Office 365 is driving our modernization journey of Government ICT infrastructure and services by allowing us to develop pioneering solutions at manageable costs and create overall improvements in operating management, all while improving transparency and accountability.” – David Kramer, Deputy Director-General, ICT at Gauteng Provincial Government

Microsoft recently became the first global provider to deliver cloud services from the African continent with the opening of our new cloud data center regions. Office 365 joins Azure to expand the intelligent cloud service available from Africa. Dynamics 365 and Power Platform, the next generation of intelligent business applications, are anticipated to be available in the fourth quarter of 2019.

By delivering the comprehensive Microsoft cloud – which includes Azure, Office 365, and Dynamics 365 – from data centers in a given geography, we offer scalable, available, and resilient cloud services to companies and organizations while meeting customer data residency, security, and compliance needs. We have deep expertise in protecting data and empowering customers around the globe to meet extensive security and privacy requirements, including offering the broadest set of compliance certifications and attestations in the industry.

The new cloud regions in South Africa are connected to Microsoft’s other regions via our global network, one of the largest and most innovative on the planet-spanning more than 100,00 miles (161,000 kilometers) of terrestrial fiber and subsea cable systems to deliver services to customers. Microsoft is bringing the global cloud closer to home for African organizations and citizens through our trans-Arabian paths between India and Europe, as well as our trans-Atlantic systems, including Marea, the highest-capacity cable to ever cross the Atlantic.

We’re committed to accelerating digital transformation across the continent through numerous initiatives and also recently announced Microsoft’s first Africa Development Centre (ADC), with two initial sites in Nairobi, Kenya, and Lagos, Nigeria. The ADC will serve as a premier center of engineering for Microsoft, where world-class African talent can create solutions for local and global impact. With our new cloud data center regions, the ADC, and programs like 4Afrika, we believe Africa is poised to develop locally and scale for global impact better than ever before.

Resource Credit |Microsoft 365 

What is Desktop Analytics?

Desktop Analytics is a cloud-based service that integrates with Configuration Manager. The service provides insights and intelligence for you to make more informed decisions about the update readiness of your Windows clients. It combines data from your organization with data aggregated from millions of devices connected to Microsoft cloud services.

Use Desktop Analytics with Configuration Manager to:

  • Create an inventory of apps running in your organization
  • Assess app compatibility with the latest Windows 10 feature updates
  • Identify compatibility issues, and receive mitigation suggestions based on cloud-enabled data insights
  • Create pilot groups that represent the entire application and driver estate across a minimal set of devices
  • Deploy Windows 10 to pilot and production-managed devices

digital analytics

Note: Desktop Analytics is a successor of Windows Analytics. The Windows Analytics service includes Upgrade Readiness, Update Compliance, and Device Health. All of these capabilities are combined in the Desktop Analytics service. Desktop Analytics also is more tightly integrated with the Configuration Manager.


Many customers have challenges with getting and staying current with Windows 10. The primary challenge is testing applications. This process is typically manual. It’s time-consuming for IT administrators and application owners to continually analyze existing applications. Then remediate any issues that arise.

Desktop Analytics provides the following benefits:

  • Device and software inventory: Inventory of key factors such as apps and versions of Windows.
  • Pilot identification: Identification of the smallest set of devices that provide the widest coverage of factors. It focuses on the factors that are most important to a pilot of Windows upgrades and updates. Making sure the pilot is more successful allows you to proceed more quickly and confidently to broad deployments in production.
  • Issue identification: Using aggregated market data along with data from your environment, the service predicts potential issues to getting and staying current with Windows. It then suggests potential mitigations.
  • Configuration Manager integration: The service cloud-enables your existing on-premises infrastructure. Use this data and analysis to deploy and manage Windows on your devices.


To use Desktop Analytics, make sure your environment meets the following prerequisites.


  • An active Azure subscription, with Global Admin permissions
  • Configuration Manager, version 1902 with update rollup (4500571) or later. For more information, see Update Configuration Manager.
    • Full Administrator role in Configuration Manager
  • Devices running Windows 7, Windows 8.1, or Windows 10
    • Install the latest updates. For more information, see Update Devices
    • Devices also need to have the Configuration Manager client, version 1902 with an update rollup (4500571) or later.

Note: Desktop Analytics doesn’t support upgrades to Windows 10 long-term servicing channel (LTSC). Desktop Analytics is designed to best support the in-place upgrade scenario. If you need to make major changes, such as from 32-bit to 64-bit architecture, use an imaging scenario. Desktop Analytics insights are still valuable in these classic OS deployment scenarios, but you can ignore the in-place upgrade specific guidance. For more information, see Scenarios to deploy enterprise operating systems with Configuration Manager


Desktop Analytics requires one of the following license subscriptions:

  • Windows 10 Enterprise E3 or E5; or Microsoft 365 F1, E3, or E5
  • Windows 10 Education A3 or A5; or Microsoft 365 A3 or A5
  • Windows VDA ES or E5

Next Steps

The following tutorial provides a step-by-step guide to getting started with Desktop Analytics and Configuration Manager: 

Resource Credit | Microsoft 365

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