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Microsoft renames Windows Virtual Desktop to Azure Virtual Desktop, adds new features

Azure logo with Azure Virtual Desktop written with a Windows logo in the background

Microsoft today announced that it is rebranding Windows Virtual Desktop to Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD). It also listed a few new capabilities coming to the service. The firm says that the changes and added features are aimed at supporting the “broader vision and the changing needs of [its] customers”, adding that the pandemic has resulted in more customers turning to Windows Virtual Desktop for “secure, easy to manage, productive personal computing experience with Windows 10 from the cloud”.

The first of the enhancements coming to the service is in the way of improved support for Azure Active Directory (AAD). The firm says that users will be able to domain join their virtual desktops directly to AAD using basic credentials. It will also add the ability for admins to automatically enroll these virtual machines using Endpoint Manage, bringing “streamlined” deployment, the firm adds. Other benefits include reduced costs due to the lack of need for a domain controller.

These features and capabilities will be soon added as part of a public preview. The Redmond firm adds that it will further improve the service with support for single sign-on and FIDO2 keys.

Another feature now out in public preview is the ability to enroll and manage Windows 10 Enterprise multi-sessions virtual machines through Endpoint Manager just like admins would for physical machines. This further improves the process of managing both physical and virtual desktops using the Endpoint Manager admin center. You can read more about the feature here.

A form for enrolling Azure Virtual Desktop machines through the Azure portal

There are also new deployment capabilities incoming for AVD machines thanks to a new QuickStart experience in the Azure portal. The feature will help users initiate automated deployments from the Azure portal using just a “few clicks” thanks to the “streamlined onboarding experience”. The QuickStart experience will roll out in preview form soon, according to the company.

Lastly, Microsoft is also introducing new pricing options for companies to offer VDI capabilities and applications in the form of a SaaS model. To enable this, the firm is introducing new monthly per-user access pricing options to allow external users to access apps from the cloud – helping customers such as software vendors. There is also a promotional period for potential Azure customers to try out the feature. You can read about the pricing options here.

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