The upcoming release of the Windows Virtual Desktop service provides another way businesses can continue to use Windows 7 without being at risk of cyberattacks. Find out what this service is and which companies are eligible to use it.

January 14, 2020, is an important date to remember for companies still using Windows 7. It is the last day Microsoft is supporting this operating system software. After this date, Microsoft will no longer provide free security updates or product support for Windows 7.

Up to this point, two options have been available for companies not planning to upgrade their Windows 7 computers:

  • Continue to use Windows 7 without any security updates. Businesses can still run their Windows 7 machines, but doing so is risky because newly discovered security vulnerabilities won’t be patched.
  • Purchase Extended Security Updates. Companies can purchase Extended Security Updates on a per-device basis, with the price increasing each year. These updates will be available for Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Enterprise customers through January 2023.

However, the situation is changing. Businesses running Windows 7 Enterprise will soon have another option: Use Microsoft’s Windows Virtual Desktop service.

Introducing the Windows Virtual Desktop Service

Windows Virtual Desktop is a desktop and app virtualization service that runs in the Microsoft Azure cloud. Companies can virtualize Windows 7 and Windows 10 desktops as well as Microsoft and third-party apps.

Businesses virtualizing Windows 7 desktops will be provided with free Extended Security Updates through January 2023, according to Microsoft. Not having to worry about annual increases in fees for these updates means companies will feel less pressure to rush through a migration. Plus, as desktops are upgraded, businesses will be able to manage both the Windows 7 and Windows 10 desktops using a unified management approach.

Being able to virtualize Windows 7 desktops can also come in handy for companies that have migrated to Windows 10, but have a few computers they cannot upgrade because the machines are running legacy business apps that are incompatible with Windows 10. With Windows Virtual Desktop, companies can keep their Windows 10 computers local while running their legacy apps on virtualized Windows 7 desktops in the cloud.

Besides virtualizing Windows 7 and Windows 10 desktops and apps, Windows Virtual Desktop offers many other capabilities. For example, companies can:

  • Set up multi-session Windows 10 deployments
  • Virtualize Windows Server 2012 R2, 2016, and 2019 desktops and apps
  • Virtualize Office 365 ProPlus (Microsoft has dropped support for Office 365 ProPlus in Windows Server 2019)
  • Run existing Remote Desktop Services (RDS) on any device

The release date for Windows Virtual Desktop has not been announced but is expected soon. The group manager of Windows Virtual Desktop has announced that this cloud service is “feature complete” and will be “moving to the final phase for GA [general availability)”.

The Cost and Requirements

Businesses can use Windows Virtual Desktop to access Windows 7 Enterprise and Windows 10 Enterprise desktops and apps for no additional cost if they have one of the following eligible licenses:

  • Microsoft 365 Business
  • Microsoft 365 E3/E5
  • Microsoft 365 F1
  • Microsoft 365 A3/A5/Student Use Benefits
  • Windows 10 Enterprise E3/E5
  • Windows 10 Education A3/A5
  • Windows 10 Virtual Desktop Access (VDA)

Similarly, companies can use Windows Virtual Desktop to access Windows Server 2012 R2 and later desktops and apps for no additional cost if they have a Microsoft RDS Client Access License (CAL) with active Software Assurance (SA).

To use Windows Virtual Desktop, though, companies need to have an Azure subscription. In addition, companies need to have Azure Active Directory. This directory needs to be in sync with Windows Server Active Directory through either Azure AD Connect or Azure AD Domain Services.

Want More Information?

If your company is running Windows 7 Enterprise and you want to take your time migrating to Windows 10, you might want to explore Windows Virtual Desktop. We can provide you with more information as well as discuss other options you might consider so that you have all the information you need to make the best decision for your company.