Microsoft’s Desktop Virtualization Offering

If you are in the process of reviewing desktop virtualization offerings for your infrastructure, here is a cheat sheet on what Microsoft brings to the table.

Let’s begin by defining desktop virtualization. Desktop virtualization is simply a way to separate a personal PC/Laptop environment from a physical machine through a client/server environment. Basically, a virtualized desktop is delivered to you via a server that is not physically connected to your computer. For example, you could be running Windows 7 on your desktop and then have a new desktop redeployed using Windows XP in minutes. What is on your physical desktop does not matter.

Microsoft.com: Desktop Virtualization

Let’s go over the following desktop virtualization solutions offered by Microsoft:

  • User State Virtualization
  • Application Virtualization
  • OS Virtualization

This concept allows users to access their data from anywhere at any point in time. Basically, your user profile and data are available dynamically on any applicable or authorized PC. Additionally, in the event of theft, you can easily recover your files since they are stored in the Data Center servers. This functionality is native to Windows 7 and provides virtualization of the user state. They are: Roaming User Profiles, Folder Redirection and Offline folders.

Application virtualization delivers virtual applications to user desktops on demand without the need to embed the application in the physical machines registry with hooks deep into the Operating System (OS). Microsoft takes advantage of this technology with a product called Microsoft Application Virtualization (APP-V). RemoteApp is another product where Microsoft delivers programs through Remote Desktop Service (RDS). These programs appear on the local computer but are hosted applications.

Microsoft.com: App-V

Operating System (OS) Virtualization

OS virtualization gives you the ability to deploy an OS image across physical and virtual environments. There are two types of OS virtualization. They are as follows:

  • Client-Hosted Desktop Virtualization
  • Server Hosted Desktops

Client Hosted Desktop Virtualization

Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V) is a product offering that allows you to deploy and manage virtual desktops on a Windows platform. For example, you can use MED-V to deploy Windows 7 desktops without the nuisance of application compatibility of Windows XP legacy applications. Microsoft leverages Windows Virtual PC to handle application compatibility issues while running Windows 7. Basically, you are running two OS’s on one device but can have seamless integration between the two.

Server Hosted Desktop Virtualization

Microsoft Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) allows users to access their desktops that are hosted on servers. VDI allows you to deliver the latest technology such as Windows 7 to laptops that may not be suitable to run hardware physically. Since the Data Center hosts the desktop, you just simply need a tool to access your desktop.

Microsoft.com: VDI

Additionally, you can access Remote Desktop Services to remotely access a Windows Server OS with multiple sessions using a mature technology such as Remote Desktop protocol (RDP).

For more information on the products listed in this article check out microsoft.com/virtualization.

I am off to a Windows Server 2008 Server Core presentation. I’ll check back in later.

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