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Anyone familiar with End-User/Server Based Computing will be well used to the idea of providing Windows desktops to remote users. Good old XenDesktop from Citrix got the ball rolling, and since the Windows Experience became available, DIY solutions leveraging Windows Server have been possible.

 

While XenDesktop and Horizon from VMWare offered hosted desktops built from golden images, the Windows Server solutions (and others) often entailed delivering a hosted desktop using a Server OS with RDSH or similar enabled. While this was economical and straightforward to deploy, it did present problems, many of which Scapa has spent the last number of years testing for our customers and partners. These problems could manifest as application compatibilities, where software intended for desktop use wouldn’t or couldn’t function in a multi-user server environment. Roaming users became another perennial appearance on our radar – the management of user profiles for this type of end-user often presented a problem, as did workaday issues such as session persistence and printing.

 

What’s new?

 

Windows Virtual Desktop is a new desktop and app virtualization service from Microsoft. It will allow you to to run Windows 10 deployments in their Azure cloud, accessing them from thin (or thick clients). Your desktop, apps and storage will all live in the cloud, accessible from anywhere. More details here

 

Microsoft is making a big push of this move to the cloud, and have made some huge investments that could make the migration compelling. One feature that we’re looking forward to exploring a bit further is the new Windows 10 Enterprise multi-session capability. This is exclusive to the WVD on Azure platform (for now, as far as we know). Sized and used correctly, it should make a big difference in the VM and OS overhead while still providing the same resources to your users. Testing (of course) will be required though!

 

We’re also interested in the improvements in Profile Management that this move brings. It’s no secret that EUC/SBC profiles have been a challenge for a long time. We’ve been testing these systems for 20 years, and it’s unusual to find a deployment where profiles haven’t been a concern, at some stage. To address this Microsoft’s acquisition oof FXLogix was very interesting, and we’re looking forward to running some real-world tests to see if their vaunted profile solution stands up to large amounts of load. There are also improvements in per user indexing; in the past when a user logged on to a new VM, search indexes needed to be rebuilt from scratch, this is no longer the case, which should also improve user experience.

 

WVD: Microsoft is releasing a brand-new version of Windows 10 to support multiple user desktop sessions on a single VM. It is called Windows 10 Enterprise Multi-session for WVD and it is built specifically to enable hosted desktops that are identical to what the more than 800M Windows 10 users are already used to on their physical devices. The new OS also comes with enhancements that improve user experience. For instance, the Windows Search index (which speeds up searching in Outlook and other apps) will be a per-user database that will be portable and can move with the user from one VM to another. In existing operating systems, the search index is a per-machine database so if a user logs into another VM the index must be rebuilt.

 

This is a major development in our particular area of Enterprise IT, and we are very excited by it. We’d encourage anyone thinking of deploying Windows Virtual Desktops to factor in some automated end-user testing – Scapa’s platforms will allow you to simulate and automate end-user activity, and then address that load against a new WVD deployment. You’ll be able to compare end-user performance against your current platform, be those physical desktops, or any existing End User Computing solution.