As your organization continues the digital transformation journey, Microsoft offers a highly beneficial service for protecting and containerizing corporate data and assets for the remote workforce, such as employees, consultants, or contractors: Desktop-as-a-Service. In brief, Desktop-as-a-Service provides a virtual desktop infrastructure, eliminating the need to manage the actual infrastructure! Specifically, the customer is responsible for app deployments, custom images, virtual machine sizing and deployment, directory services integration, and data center network connectivity (e.g., site-to-site VPN, SD-WAN, ExpressRoute, etc.). Today, Microsoft offers two solutions for Desktop-as-a-Service: Azure Virtual Desktop (formerly Windows Virtual Desktop) and Windows 365. Now, comes the business decision: which one?

Azure Virtual Desktop

Azure Virtual Desktop allows your organization to deploy persistent and non-persistent virtual desktops, whether direct or automatic assignment, along with complete compute elasticity. Also, Azure Virtual Desktop enables your organization to deploy multi-session hosts and publish RemoteApps, depending on organizational requirements.
Consider several configuration steps:

  • Host pool settings (e.g., allow USB redirecting, RDP settings)
  • Out-of-the-box or custom images
  • Application groups
  • User profile storage
  • Load-balancing between non-persistent virtual desktops
  • Device management

Also, there are key decisions to consider when utilizing Azure Virtual Desktop, such as disaster recovery and business continuity. Finally, while your organization must understand the consumed compute operational costs in Azure, keep in mind the licensing costs for the Windows desktop OS (e.g., perpetual or subscription-based). Overall, the proper planning and execution make Azure Virtual Desktop a beneficial and flexible solution for your organization.

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Windows 365

Windows 365 offers an end-to-end solution for persistent virtual desktops, deployed and managed via Microsoft Endpoint Manager (formerly Microsoft Intune). In brief, some of the prerequisites include network connectivity to Active Directory on-premises (Azure AD Join coming soon!), identity and device synchronization via Azure AD Connect, Azure subscription, Azure virtual network, and DNS resolution to Active Directory on-premises. In addition, there are some configuration steps to consider, such as a custom or out-of-the-box images, provisioning policies, and user settings. Finally, a pivotal decision to consider and understand is the licensing types for Windows 365, dependent upon the compute resource size requirement (e.g., vCPU, RAM, and storage). Overall, while there may be a lack of computing elasticity and disaster recovery flexibility, Windows 365 is a perfect solution to quickly deploy virtual desktops to the remote workforce at a fixed cost, regardless of actual compute resource usage.

How Do You Decide?

Azure Virtual Desktop and Windows 365 provide various options to meet specific organizational needs.

Ultimately, deciding on Azure Virtual Desktop and Windows 365 is dependent upon several factors:

  • Operational versus fixed costs
  • Disaster recovery and business continuity expectations
  • Compute elasticity and auto-scaling
  • Device management roadmap
  • IT administration functions

Below are common scenarios and possible solutions between Azure Virtual Desktop, Windows 365, or both!

Scenario and Solution table


I hope this blog has been helpful When choosing between Azure Virtual Desktop and Windows 365 for Desktop-as-a-Service.