October 22, 2020
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Traditional RDS vs Azure WVD

In this article, we’d be doing a head to head comparison of the two virtual environment solutions provided by Microsoft i.e. Remote Desktop Services vs Windows Virtual Desktop. So, without further a do, let's learn about each of it one by one and afterwards we’ll lead us to their comparison.

Remote Desktop Services vs Windows Virtual Desktop

What is Remote Desktop Services?

Remote Desktop Services (RDS) is the offering of Microsoft for building virtualization solutions for every end customer need, including delivering individual virtualized applications, providing secure mobile and remote desktop access for your users whom infrastructure may rely on physical machines or virtual machines in cloud. 

Depending on your environment and preferences, you may set up the RDS solution for Session-Based Virtualization, as a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), or as a combination of the two:

  • Session-based virtualization: Leverage the computer power of Windows Server to provide a cost-effective multi-session environment to drive your users' everyday workloads.
  • VDI: Leverage Windows Client to provide the high performance, app compatibility, and familiarity that your users have come to expect of their Windows Desktop experience.

What is Windows Virtual Desktop?

Azure Windows Virtual Desktop is a cloud offering from Microsoft that allows its users to virtualize desktops and apps.

Here's what you can do when you run Windows Virtual Desktop on Azure:

  • Set up a multi-session Windows 10 deployment that delivers a full Windows 10 with scalability
  • Virtualize Microsoft 365 Apps for enterprise and optimize it to run in multi-user virtual scenarios
  • Provide Windows 7 virtual desktops with free Extended Security Updates
  • Bring your existing Remote Desktop Services (RDS) and Windows Server desktops and apps to any computer
  • Virtualize both desktops and apps
  • Manage Windows 10Windows Server, and Windows 7 desktops and apps with a unified management experience

Microsoft RDS vs Microsoft Azure WVD

For the comparison of the concerning virtual solutions, we’ll be segmenting it into four sections:

  • Features comparison of Remote Desktop Services vs Windows Virtual Desktop
  • Management of Microsoft Remote Desktop Services vs WVD
  • Cost of RDS vs WVD
  • Performance of RDS vs WVD
  • Use case scenarios of RDS vs WVD

Features comparison of Remote Desktop Services vs Azure Windows Virtual Desktop

Features RDS (Hosted in Azure using Virtual Machines) Azure WVD Operating System.


RDS (Hosted in Azure)

Azure WVD

Operating System

- Windows Server Only for RDS

- Windows Client is available for VDI

Windows Client and Windows Server both are available. (RDS CALS are needed for Server)

Machines Assignment

Shared Session Hosts for RDS

Dedicated VM’s may be assigned for VDI

Both options are available i.e. pooled or dedicated.

Profile management

- User Profile Disks (UPD)/Native are used for RDS

- User Profile Disks (UPD)/Native are used for VDI

- User Profile Disks (UPD)

- FSLogix Profile Containers (recommended)


Not supported


Windows Indexed Search

Not supported


Management of Microsoft Remote Desktop Services vs Windows Virtual Desktop

The management of cost and infrastructure includes installation roles, configuring the complete environment, patching of the servers etc. and no doubt, the management of a solution comes with its workload and cost. Below are the given details about the management of the two.


RDS (Hosted in Azure)

Azure WVD

Control and Infrastructure

Managed by end Customer

Managed by MS



Limited for tenants but Session Hosts may be deployed anywhere

Market Availability

It’s been here since more than a decade

  • GA started on September 30, 2019

  • Cost of Remote Desktop Services vs Windows Virtual Desktop

    The cost calculations provided below in the table has been made keeping the following considerations in mind:

    • Number of users utilizing the environment = round about 16 users
    • Having the same set of features and experience excluding the obvious limitations that come with the solution itself

    Cost (approx.)

    RDS (Hosted in Azure)

    Azure WVD

    User License

    RDS + Windows Server CAL = $6 user/month

    - Cheapest Option without Office 365 for Windows Client environment would be Windows E3 = $7 user/month

    - Cheapest option with Office 365 for Windows Client environment would be Microsoft 365 F3 = $10 user/month

    - For Windows Server environment without Office 365 = $0.6 user/month

    Server License

    Server License price would be adjusted in the VM’s cost.

    - No charges for Windows Client environment.

    - For Server environment, license price would be adjusted in VM’s cost.


    A single Azure VM with nested virtualization compromising i.e. 1 DC, 1 SH = $2,195.84 /month using D32_v4 size VM

    - For Windows Client environment consisting Azure VM’s i.e. 1 DC, 1 SH = $750 /month using D16_v4 size VM as Session Host

    - For Windows Server environment consisting Azure VM’s i.e. 1 DC, 1 SH = $1350 /month using D16_v4 size VM as Session Host

    Total Cost

    Windows Server experience without Office 365 = $96 + $2196 = $2292 /month

    - For Windows Client experience without Office 365 = $112 + $750 = $862 / month

    - For Windows Client experience with Office 365 = $160+ $750 = $910 /month


    - For Windows Server environment without Office 365 = $10 + $1350 = $1360

    Performance of RDS vs WVD

    Performance is significantly improved for WVD which also comes with the support of over the web experience for remote desktop sessions.


    RDS (Hosted in Azure)

    Azure WVD

    Over the Web

    Not available for desktop connections


    User Profile Loading

    It’s not very optimized as profiles get copied/imported as the sign in session is initiated under UPD solution

    Using FSLogix Profile Container, the profiles get mounted reducing the delay times drastically


    Not a very cost-efficient option and comes with its extra workload.

    As a Cloud Service, it’s highly scalable with many options providing cost saving and ease of the procedure

    Use Case Scenarios of Remote Desktop Services vs Windows Virtual Desktop

    The most common use case scenarios that one would come up with and how good they are tackled by the two concerned solution.

    Use Case

    RDS (Hosted in Azure)

    Azure WVD

    MS Teams Usage

    Highly not recommended


    Microphone Redirection



    Camera Redirection




    Not supported


    Intune Enrolment

    Not supported

    Not supported

    Apply GPO



    Which One Would Work Best for You?

    It really depends on one’s environment needs. Some of the factors which may affect your decision would be:

    • An RDS environment is already in place and the license required for them have just been renewed, following the approach “if it isn't broke, don't fix it” would seem more appealing to you
    • If a new virtual environment to be setup, WVD being the latest technology with less workload and high scalability and very minimal downtime would be a more interesting option for you
    • If using Office 365 is necessary, bundling it with WVD with Microsoft 365 Subscription, even switching from already deployed RDS environments would be a huge cost saver for you
    • If keeping the access of your environment infrastructure only to you isn’t a big consideration, WVD would prove to be a better choice

    I hope the comparison provided and the considerations while choosing between the two will prove to help you decide your next big step for your virtual environment.  Book a strategy call with us now to get started!

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    Last Updated 3 months ago

    About the Author

    Ateeb is a Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate. He aids clients in deployment, and management of Microsoft technologies - for both, on-premises and on the cloud environment.

    With significant experience in deploying stand-alone and enterprise solutions, Ateeb enjoys helping organizations with their digital transformation journey.

    Ateeb Fayyaz

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