Windows 7: Microsoft releases virtual Azure desktop with free patches until 2023

Redmond launches new service catering to organisations that will have lots of Windows 7 PCs in use after it stops providing free patches in January 2020

Credit: Dreamstime

Microsoft has launched Windows Virtual Desktop, a platform that allows companies to virtualise Windows 7, Windows 10 and Office 365 Pro Plus apps and third-party apps on its Azure cloud infrastructure.

Redmond launched the public beta of Windows Virtual Desktop in March and has now announced the product is generally available across the globe.

“With Windows Virtual Desktop, you can deploy and scale your Windows desktops and apps on Azure in minutes,” said Brad Anderson, corporate vice president of Microsoft 365, the company’s bundle of enterprise cloud and security services.

The launch of Windows Virtual Desktop comes as Microsoft prepares to cut off free patches for Windows 7 in January 2020.

Some organisations will pay the extra fees for extended Windows 7 support because they’re still running applications that depend on Windows 7. But Microsoft is touting Windows Virtual Desktop as an answer for organisations that will have Windows 7 fleets beyond the January 2020 deadline.

The service allows customers to virtualise Windows 7 desktops and take advantage of free Extended Security Updates that will be available until January 2023. The other option businesses have is to buy per-device Extended Security Updates.

The Windows Virtual Desktop client is available on Windows, Android, macOS, iOS, and via browsers that support HTML5 like Chrome, Edge and Firefox.

Customers can access desktop apps through Windows Server Remote Desktop Services for no additional cost if they have a Microsoft Remote Desktop Services (RDS) Client Access License (CAL).

Microsoft hasn’t released pricing details, but notes that customers only pay for the virtual machines and storage on a pay-as-you-go basis. Alternatively, customers can purchase Azure time-based reserved instances with savings of up to 72 per cent.

Enterprise customers with top tier licensing agreements with Microsoft are also eligible. These include Microsoft 365 E3/E5, Microsoft 365 A3/A5/Student Use Benefits, Microsoft 365 F1, Microsoft 365 Business, Windows 10 Enterprise E3/E5, Windows 10 Education A3/A5, and Windows 10 VDA per user.

The company prepared for the Windows 7 transition by improving how Office works in a virtualised environment and through its acquisition of FSLogix last November, a month before it announced Windows Virtual Desktop as a Microsoft 365 service.

Customers using rival virtualisation technologies can also benefit from Microsoft’s offer. Citrix customers can use extend Windows Virtual Desktop with support for Windows 10 multi-session, and free Windows 7 updates for up to three years.

And later this year, customers using Dell-owned VMware Horizon Cloud on Azure will have access to Windows Virtual Desktop.

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