Microsoft now offers Windows 11 preview on Azure Virtual Desktop

Starting this week, Microsoft customers can use the Azure Virtual Desktop (formerly Windows Virtual Desktop) to virtualize a Windows 11 preview desktop on Azure virtual machines.

“Azure Virtual Desktop has become a popular cloud VDI platform to run desktops and apps in the cloud and deliver a full Windows experience to users virtually anywhere,” said Kam VedBrat, GM for Windows Virtual Desktop at Microsoft.

“Windows Virtual Desktop GM Organizations today use it with Windows 10, Windows 7, Windows Server … and now we are pleased to offer Windows 11 on Azure Virtual Desktop.”

How to try it right now

After registering for the Windows Insider Program, Enterprise and Education customers can immediately start testing Windows 11 with Azure Virtual Desktop.

You can choose between three Windows 11 Preview images available through the Azure Marketplace: Windows 11 Enterprise, Windows 11 Enterprise multi-session, and Windows 11 Enterprise multi-session + Microsoft 365 Apps.

These images can be used to deploy virtual machines on Microsoft’s cloud virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) platform but can’t be used in production environments given that they’re pre-release software.

“For Windows 11, Azure Virtual Desktop still provides exclusive support for multi-session, an important option that helps you optimize costs by running multiple users on a single Azure virtual machine,” VedBrat added.

“You can use Trusted Launch (available in preview) to enable TPM 2.0 and secure boot as part of the VM configuration to take full advantage of the security capabilities in Windows 11.”

From Windows Virtual Desktop to Azure Virtual Desktop

Azure Virtual Desktop is a cloud-based desktop and app virtualization service which allows accessing Windows desktops over the Internet using a Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, or HTML5-based Azure Virtual Desktop client.

Azure Virtual Desktop supports Windows 10 multi-session, Windows 10 single-session, Windows 7 single-session, Windows Server 2012 R2, and newer operating systems.

While the user experience is likely identical to a local PC, you may have to use an Azure VM with the right GPU support for higher-end graphics effects, including transparencies, animations, and rounded window corners.

Microsoft announced the cloud-based desktop virtualization service in September 2018 and made it generally available worldwide one year later, after a public preview testing phase in March.

This year, in June, Microsoft rebranded the platform from Windows Virtual Desktop to Azure Virtual Desktop and added new security capabilities and pricing options for remote app streaming.