Microsoft Desktop Virtualization: Taking another step forward with UE-V and VDI

During the past few months, we’ve discussed how Microsoft Desktop Virtualization enables people to change their device and keep their experience, as well as gain access to their apps from virtually anywhere – all with the ability to access Windows everywhere.

Most recently, I shared updates to User Experience Virtualization (UE-V) and Application Virtualization (App-V) 5.0 products, which focus on virtualizing the user state and application layers of the desktop. Today, I’m happy to share more good news with the availability of the UE-V Release Candidate (RC). UE-V will reach general availability when the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) 2012 becomes available in the fourth quarter of this calendar year.

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UE-V RC and Windows Server 2012

At TechEd North America and TechEd Europe, as well as on Microsoft Connect, we received feedback from you that UE-V should have the flexibility to be controlled on a per-user basis. We heard you and this feature is now included in the UE-V RC. You’ll also notice performance improvements throughout and refinements to some of the settings templates for Office 2010, as well as support for the final release of Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012. For more information on the UE-V RC, along with a more technical rundown of UE-V RC on its features, check out this post on the Springboard Blog.

And speaking of Windows Server 2012, I want to take some time to talk about using Microsoft Desktop Virtualization to virtualize the operating system using a virtual desktop infrastructure commonly referred to as VDI. Windows Server 2012 powers the back-end of Microsoft VDI. The combination of Windows (Windows 7 or Windows 8), RemoteFX and Windows Server 2012 brings VDI together, providing a single platform that delivers a common experience across three deployment options: sessions, pooled or personal VMs. Our goal here is to give you the flexibility you need to help you make the best decisions for your business.

VDI may be the right solution for your business if you want to:

  • Ensure that data is secured in the datacenter
  • Pursue Bring Your Own PC programs, or
  • Centralize the management in the datacenter

Although interest in VDI has been high over the course of the last few years, adoption has been a bit slower as indicated by industry analysts and press. Regardless, the ecosystem has forged ahead, making strides in the areas of flexibility, customization and usability. The result is a continuous increase in the number of businesses investigating benefits of VDI integration. Moreover, IDC has recently suggested that the industry will see a 5.6 percent year-over-year growth in 2012 worldwide client virtualization spending. ¹

And by pairing Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8, we have invested in areas that will reduce the barriers to adoption while still ensuring a great user experience. Here are some examples:

  • When using Windows Server 2012 in conjunction with Windows 8, you will get a fast and fluid touch experience that responds in the same manner as if the OS were running on a local machine. Gestures and applications work well and there is no custom SDK required to get a great touch experience. With Windows 8, a seamless touch interface is achievable via both a tablet and in a virtual desktop setting.
  • User’s interaction with the virtual desktop, as we know, can be a deal breaker. So not only is touch important, but the speed at which the Windows and app experience gets transferred to the user is also important. If users see delays in the way information is delivered on the screen, they are going to let you know it – and in previous versions of our VDI solution you weren’t shy about telling us. Therefore, in VDI with Windows Server 2012, we’ve improved RemoteFX dramatically. Your users now get a great experience over LAN and WAN including rich media and 3D graphics. When available, we take advantage of local graphics processing resources to make the experience even better.
  • Storage is a critical item for any VDI deployment as you now need to replicate the space from the physical desktop into the datacenter. Initially, storage area networks (SANs) were the storage of choice but they proved to be cost prohibitive in most cases. In Windows Server 2012 VDI, we’ve enabled options to leverage local Server Message Block for smaller deployments; network-attached storage (NAS) for larger deployments with an aim to reduce costs; and, if you need top of the line and cost is not an option, SAN is still available. Depending on the type of virtual desktop you choose to provide, more or less storage may be required. Sessions require the least amount of storage. Pooled desktops can be recycled and shared across many users thus reducing space but you lose personalization. Personal desktops are assigned to each user and highly customizable thus requiring the most space.

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If you’re worried about sacrificing personalization for storage gains, you can leverage UE-V to enable your users to change their device and keep their experience on any type of Windows desktop you choose to deploy – physical or virtual. For further savings, plug in App-V 5.0 and leverage its shared content store to avoid duplicating the application inside every VDI desktop. So go ahead, choose the one that’s best for you, we’ve got you covered.

I frequently get asked if the enhancements we’ve made for Windows 8 access devices will also work on Windows 7 access devices. I am happy to share that the answer is yes, they will. In late Q4, we will deliver, via download, the Remote Desktop Protocol 8.0 Update for Windows 7, which can be applied to Windows 7 SP1 access devices, allowing them to benefit from the same great enhancements in RemoteFX with Windows Server 2012.

We’re excited to bring these new capabilities to market and deliver a more comprehensive Desktop Virtualization offering to our customers. Check out the latest versions – UE-V RC, App-V 5.0 Beta, Windows 8 RTM, and Windows Server 2012. For more information on VDI and Windows Server 2012, you can check out the related Windows Server blogs on TechNet and MSDN. For more on Windows 8 licensing, please visit http://www.microsoft.com/licensing/Windows8.

References:

¹ “Worldwide Virtual Client Computing 2012–2016 Forecast and 2011 Vendor Shares: The Transformation of a Transition, June 2012” (Document # 235469) by Brett Waldman