Azure Virtual Desktop | Quick Setup

Mechanics Team
9 min readJan 25

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Find what you need to get started with the fastest way to deploy Azure Virtual Desktop with a step-by-step guide. This is a streamlined provisioning experience, with automation built-in based on your parameters, and time saved with directory services setup and integration.

How to set up a fully-operational Azure Virtual Desktop environment:
-Prerequisites
-Deployment steps
-Configure host pools and Remote Apps
-Test it out

Matt McSpirit, Azure Expert, walks through the setup, and shares what’s notable and unique to the service.

Directory services setup in just a few clicks to save time.

Go through these steps to get Azure Virtual Desktop up and running.

Improve utilization, save on cost.

Set up Windows 11 or Windows 10 multi-session — exclusively available through Azure Virtual Desktop.

Deploy application groups, assign Remote Apps to users.

Check out the advantages of Azure Virtual Desktop.

Watch our video here.

QUICK LINKS:

00:00 — Introduction

00:46 — Prerequisites

01:12 — Deployment steps

02:35 — Windows Multi-session option

04:27 — Deployed resources and services

05:00 — Configuring Remote Apps

06:46 — Testing everything out

08:19 — Teams AudioVideo-redirect

08:57 — Wrap up

Link References:

Check out the first show in this series for a higher level view at https://aka.ms/AVDMechanics

Check out the complete playlist at https://aka.ms/AVDMechanicsSeries

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Video Transcript:

-Coming up, I’ll walk you through all the steps to get Azure Virtual Desktop up and running quickly. This is part two in our series on the service. And by the way, if you’re new to Azure Virtual Desktop and all of its capabilities, I’d encourage you to check out our recent show covering the service at a higher level at aka.ms/AVDMechanics. Now let me show you what you need to get started and the fastest way to get Azure Virtual Desktop deployed with identity integration, multi-session host pools, container profiles, Remote Apps, and more. And along the way, I’ll point out what’s unique to the service and the things you should know about. And if you’ve tried this before or currently have VDI running, you’ll see it’s a streamlined provisioning experience with automation built in based on your parameters. And you’ll also save time with directory service setup and integration.

-First, for prerequisites, you’ll need to have a few things in place before you set up your Azure Virtual Desktop instance, including an active Azure account and subscription. You’ll also need to have access to a global administrator Azure AD role in the Azure tenant that you intend to use and for your Azure subscription, a contributor, as well as a user access administrator. And because we’ll be setting up a new Azure Active Directory Domain Services instance, in this case, you shouldn’t have an existing instance running.

-Next, we’ll move on to the deployment steps for Azure Virtual Desktop. So, logged in with your administrator account in the Azure portal, search for Azure Virtual Desktop and select it. And this is where you’ll set up host pools containing virtual machines, application groups to assign Remote Apps to users, workspaces as logical groupings of application groups, scaling plan and users to scope access to running Azure Virtual Desktop resources.

-You’ll start the provisioning process by selecting “Getting Started” on the top left. Here, you’ll make sure the correct subscription’s selected. For identity provider, you’ll see that if you do want to use an existing on-premises active directory or an existing Azure AD Domain Services instance, that’s another option. But in this case, we’ll use no identity provider, assuming you are starting from scratch. Next, for identity service type, we’ll select Azure AD domain services. Then we’ll create a resource group with a unique name. So I’ll type AVD mechanics. In location, you’ll want to select a region typically closest to your users, so I’ll choose West US. And for Azure admin username, I’ll use my account with the sufficient permissions required to deploy resources and grant access to them. Then you’ll enter a password for that account and the next account will be used to join virtual machines to the domain. I’ll use my account again in this case for simplicity and input my password again.

-Next, we’ll move on to the virtual machines tab where you’ll be creating your first session hosts. So here, the users per virtual machine will determine if you want more than one user simultaneously logged into a single vm. Now this uses a capability unique to Azure Virtual Desktop to help save costs and improve utilization called Windows multi-session, which used to be a server only capability. And now here you can also use it with Windows 11 or Windows 10 client operating systems. The other option is one user at a time which would be a single dedicated virtual machine to one user. Now in our case, we’ll select multiple users and next, in image, you’ll see we can choose from a number of supported Windows client and server virtual machine images for Azure Virtual Desktop. And these include recent updates at the specified feature update level and some have Microsoft 365 apps pre-installed. So I’ll choose Windows 11 enterprise multi-session plus Microsoft 365 apps, version 22H2. Now optionally in Azure Virtual Desktop, you can create and manage your own virtual machine images and choose those in addition to the standard gallery images that we just saw.

-Next, in virtual machine size, you can select from hundreds of supported VM sizes in Azure including general purpose VMs like you see in here. And there are also specialized VMs, for example, with GPU support that you can use for demanding workloads. Now in my case, since we’re just testing I’ll choose a B series general Purpose VM. Then you’ll define a unique prefix to identify your VMs later. So I’ll use avdb in this example. Then you’ll select the number of VMs in the host pool. So I’ll choose two. Now with your host pool VMs configured, you’ll create an initial user assignment for this host pool in the assignments tab. For test username, I’ll add the user principle name for avd test user, then a password and a password one more time to confirm. Now with the core steps complete, the wizard’s going to validate everything and from there, I can create all the resources necessary for Azure Virtual Desktop. And that’s it.

-This process will now deploy several resources and services on your behalf, including four new Azure resource groups, the Azure AD domain service that’ll be used for authentication, a storage account to store data FSLogix profile containers to support your multi-session environment, your host pool and virtual machines, an application group and a workspace, a virtual network or VNet and a few network interfaces to connect everything up. A network security group, a pair of new Azure AD groups and the VM joiner and test user accounts we configured in the previous step. So we now have the service up and running with the desktop host group.

-Now, one of the advantages of using Azure Virtual Desktop compared to our hosted VM is that you can use Remote Apps. So let’s take a look at the application group we deployed and configure a Remote App. Now this is where you define the Remote Apps and full desktops that you want to make available to users. And these can be pre-installed Windows apps or other apps within the Windows image that you deployed. Now in our case, we install Microsoft 365 apps with familiar office applications. So let’s define a new app. We’ll configure Microsoft Teams in our case. In basics, you define your normal Azure parameters along with your corresponding host pool. Here, I’m using a different one than we’ve just created. I’ll choose a remote app in this case and I’ll give it a name; Microsoft365apps, without any spaces.

-Next, in the applications tab, we’ll define the specifics of the app and what the users will see. So I’ll add my app, I’ll keep the application sourced as the start menu. Now I’ll choose Microsoft Teams work or school and the display name is generated automatically but you can edit it if you want. I’m going to keep the icon path and index. We can skip the command line in this case and save.

-Next, in assignments, I’ve already created a group of licensed Azure Virtual Desktop users called AVD users and I’ll add them. Next, in the workspace tab, you can register your app group to a workspace. The workspace can have multiple app groups assigned to it. Here I’ll choose yes and select EB-AVD-WS. For the rest, I’ll leave the defaults and hit review and create. And from there, I’ll confirm to kick off the process. And if I go back to the workspace I showed before with just a desktop app group type, you can see that we have a Remote App group type as well now.

-So now with everything running and our application group’s configured, let’s test it out. So first, I’ll start in the browser. I’ve already navigated to aka.ms/AVDweb. I’ll log in with my username, then my password. And since I’ve set up my account for multifactor auth, I’ll approve on my phone along with a required biometric. So here you can see that I’ve got the desktop and the Microsoft Teams app from both of my app groups. I’ll open the session desktop and it requests access to the local clipboard, microphone and printer. Now, as an admin, you can control whether users can enable these integrations but in my case, I’ll hit allow to connect to my desktop.

-Now based on my configuration, I need to enter my password once more for the VM to authenticate against the domain service. I’ll open the desktop and you’ll see it’s the full Windows 11 desktop ready to go. And while a browser’s a really flexible way to access your desktops and Remote Apps, the remote desktop client has deeper integration with Windows, like access to webcams and better integration with the Windows shell. So it’s the recommended way to connect to your hosts. And just so you know, there are clients available for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android.

-I’ve got the Windows Remote Desktop app open and it’s already signed into my account. You can see the same app and desktop that we saw in the browser client. And if I open the Teams app, it will connect to the session host and you’ll see it looks like a native local app window that I can move like any other app window, where I want it. And I can also resize it, even though it’s a Remote App. I’ll show you that in the Teams device settings. And if I scroll down, you can see that I’ve got my local webcam available just like it would be on my local PC.

-And one last thing to point out while I have Teams open, since we use the gallery image with the Microsoft 365 apps pre-installed when we created the host pool, it’s got the built-in optimizations pre-configured for AudioVideo-redirect. Now without it for users to share and receive video from their virtual machines to the local devices, multiple encoding and decoding hops need to happen, which causes lag and stutter during online meetings whereas AudioVideo-redirect creates a more direct connection between local device cameras and microphones via the Teams service. So now we have a fully operational Azure Virtual Desktop environment with desktops and Remote Apps available to a few users.

-There’s more to come in our series on Mechanics for Azure Virtual Desktops. So please check out the complete playlist at aka.ms/AVDMechanicsSeries. Be sure to subscribe and thanks for watching.

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