Windows Virtual Desktop – #4 – Image Customisation

By Mark Ison on

Windows Virtual Desktop Image Customisation

What images can I use?

Windows Virtual Desktop machines can be deployed using images from either the Azure Marketplace Gallery, or a custom image that you have prepared. This could even be the image from an existing RDS environment. OS versions supported as session hosts are:

  • Windows 10 Enterprise
  • Windows 10 Enterprise multi-session (only available in the gallery)
  • Windows 7 Enterprise (includes 3 years extended support)
  • Windows Server 2012 R2, 2016 and 2019.

Windows 7, Server 2012 R2 and Server 2019 images are not currently available through the gallery during the service deployment.

Image: Windows Virtual Desktop Create window in Microsoft Azure

When and how should I use custom images?

This will depend on how much customisation, how many apps and the number of hosts you plan to deploy. Custom images can be created in either a virtual environment or directly in Azure. Once all the applications and customisations are installed or completed, the machine is sysprep’d and left powered off. The image location can then be used during the service deployment. The key advantage to using Azure is that all the prerequisites that would normally need to be carried out when preparing an image for Azure are not necessary. Once the sysprep process is complete you can use the VHD URI when provisioning the service. If you have created the image outside of Azure, you will need to upload it to BLOB storage. When creating the template VM, be sure to use a non-managed disk, otherwise there will be no URI for the VHD.

Image: WVD Template unmanaged screen

Any other considerations?

If you are using Azure to create your template image, don’t go overboard with sizing and specification. The machine will spend most of its existence in a powered off state, meaning that you will only really be paying for the storage costs. Do yourself a favour and use standard HDD disks on a cheap B series machine. Anything smaller can make the customisation process very slow going. I tend to use a B2s machine.

Over the past few months Microsoft have been slowly releasing details on its MSIX App Attach technology. This has been developed with the FSLogix team and will introduce the ability to attach apps to the host session instead of having them installed locally on the host. I believe that this will be a game changer in the virtual/remote desktop world. However, this is still in its early stages and only available as a private preview and only works with the latest Insider Preview build of Windows 10. Keep posted here for updates and details as and when they become available.

Windows Virtual Desktop. Want to know more?

Stay tuned for Part 5 of this Windows Virtual Desktop based blog series where I’ll be discussing RemoteApp and Desktop publishing.

Here at Silversands we have already begun meeting with customers, designing and implementing proof of concepts for WVD with universal praise for the service.

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