Remote Virtual Desktop Windows 10

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This post about “Virtual Desktops or Remote Desktops” was written by guest blogger Microsoft MVP Brien M. Posey.

Where to find virtual desktop in Windows 10? Select the Task View (formerly known as Timeline View) icon directly to the right of the Windows Search box. + New desktop will appear in the upper left-hand corner of your screen.

  1. To quickly switch between virtual desktops in Windows 10 with a keyboard shortcut, press Windows+Ctrl+Left Arrow to switch to a lower-numbered desktop or Windows+Ctrl+Right Arrow for a higher-numbered one. If there’s a virtual desktop established in the “direction” in which you specify with the arrow keys, the workspace will switch.
  2. Remote Desktop client for Windows 7 or Windows 10 stops responding or cannot be opened Starting with version 1.2.790, you can reset the user data from the About page or using a command. Use the following command to remove your user data, restore default settings and unsubscribe from all Workspaces.

Virtual Desktops or Remote Desktops?

One of the big questions that administrators will have to address when designing a private cloud is whether to use remote desktops or virtual desktops. Each approach has its unique advantages and disadvantages.

Remote desktops are part of Microsoft terminal servers. In a terminal server environment, users establish a connection to one or more centralized terminal servers. The user’s applications run directly on the terminal server rather than running in a virtual desktop environment.

The primary advantage of using remote desktops is simplicity. Remote desktop environments tend to have fewer infrastructure requirements than virtual desktop environments, which translates directly into lower implementation costs.

Historically, the most significant disadvantage of using remote desktops has been application compatibility. In the past, many applications would not run in a terminal server environment. Over the years, most of these compatibility problems have gone away. Some applications still won’t run properly on a terminal server, but it is possible to use an application virtualization solution as a workaround to the problem. Of course, doing so does have an impact on cost and complexity.

A virtual desktop environment (commonly referred to as VDI) makes use of extensive collections of virtual machines running on top of hypervisors. VDI environments tend to be much more complicated than remote desktop environments. In a VDI environment, administrators must manage extensive collections of virtual machines. Furthermore, a connection broker is needed to match in the user sessions two virtual machines. If not properly implemented, the connection broker can become a single point of failure or a significant performance bottleneck.

Virtual Desktop disambiguation

There is a disambiguity that exists when it comes to the definition of a virtual desktop. In a general sense, a virtual desktop is a preconfigured image of operating systems and applications which is separated from the end device that is used to access it. The endpoint devices can be laptops, tablets, or smartphones that can be used by users to access the virtual desktops.

The alternative definition of virtual desktop relates to Microsoft Windows. It is the feature offered by Windows 10 that allows you to add unlimited virtual desktops quickly and easily. You can create virtual desktops from the Task View pane, and manage the virtual desktop view, move applications to different desktops, close pages on selected virtual desktops or show the windows on all the desktops.


This article refers to the former kind of virtual desktop, i.e. the desktop images that can be delivered to endpoints and can be used from any device from any location.

Virtual Desktop vs Physical Desktop

There are several similarities and differences between virtual desktops and physical desktops.

Virtual Desktop vs Physical Desktop: Similarities

  • The interface of virtual desktops and physical desktops are the same.
  • The apps that run on virtual desktops are the same as that of physical desktops.
  • Both virtual desktops and physical desktops offer a similar experience.

Virtual Desktop vs Physical Desktop: Differences

  • Accessibility: Virtual desktops are accessible from anywhere over the internet. Physical desktops on the other hand are at a single location and require special software for remote access. Additionally, they need to be turned on.
  • Device Usage: Virtual desktops can be used on any device. Physical desktops, alternatively, can only be used as a single device.
  • Data Storage: Virtual desktops store data in a central data center instead of the local device. Physical desktops store data in their corresponding device storage.
  • Security: Since data is stored centrally, virtual desktops are more secure than physical desktops. Additionally, if your endpoint device is stolen, data loss is not a significant issue. Since the data of physical desktops is stored on the device itself, a stolen physical desktop can prove to be a blow in the security of important data.
  • Internet Connectivity: Virtual desktops always require internet connectivity to work. Physical desktops however do not need a stable internet connection.
  • Upgrades and patching: Upgrades and patching for virtual desktop can be done remotely with ease by single IT staff. Doing the same in physical desktops, however, gives rise to significant downtime and requires IT staff to be physically present at each device location.
  • User Management: User management is easy in virtual desktops as compared to physical desktops.
  • Cost: Since virtual desktops can be run virtually on any device, upfront costs are reduced. Physical desktops however require organizations to spend upfront infrastructure costs.

Benefits of Virtual Desktops

Despite its cost and complexity, virtual desktop environments do offer several advantages over remote desktops. For one thing, virtual desktops provide end-users with a familiar experience. When a user logs onto a virtual desktop, they usually interact with desktop operating systems such as Windows 7 or Windows 8. Remote Desktop environments, on the other hand, sometimes force users to use a server desktop.

“Virtual desktops” also allow for a far higher degree of personalization, because they consist of extensive collections of virtual machines, it is possible to create multiple categories of virtual machines to service the various means of users throughout the organization. For example, an administrator could create one virtual machine image for the Finance Department and a different virtual machine image for Human Resources.

Similarly, an administrator can decide whether to make virtual desktops persistent or nonpersistent. In other words, a virtual desktop can be configured to begin every session in a pristine state, or it can be set to maintain user state data from one session to the next, thereby acting as a personal virtual desktop.

The choice over whether an organization should use virtual desktops or remote desktops largely depends upon the organization’s needs. Virtual desktops generally offer a higher degree of flexibility but do so at a higher cost than what might incur with remote desktops.

Parallels RAS can utilize both VDI and RDS technologies

Both VDI and RDS technologies can help you achieve desktop virtualization, and deliver the performance, security, and flexibility you need for your business. As an organization, deciding which desktop virtualization to use can be a daunting task since each technology has its own merits and demerits.

What if there was an optimal solution that offers the best of both worlds?

Parallels® Remote Application Server (RAS) is a desktop virtualization platform that utilizes both VDI and RDS to build infrastructure that’s not only flexible but also secure and performance oriented. Parallels RAS is platform-independent—meaning, you can deliver any Windows application or desktop to any end-device, geographical location, and at any time.

Parallels RAS provides customized templates that companies can use to deliver VDI or RDS on-demand with maximum infrastructural flexibility to any end-device or location. Besides, IT administrators can easily switch between the two technologies without extra planning. Most of all, you have access to either VDI or RDS without additional costs, potentially saving lots of money for your organization.

About Brien M. Posey

Brien Posey is a ten-time Microsoft MVP with two decades of IT experience. Before becoming a freelance technical writer, Brien served as CIO for a national chain of hospitals and healthcare facilities. He has also worked as a network administrator for some of the nation’s largest insurance companies and the Department of Defense at Fort Knox.

Since going freelance in 2001, Brien has become a prolific technical author. He has published many thousands of articles and numerous books on a wide variety of topics (primarily focusing on enterprise networking). In addition to his writing, Brien has provided consulting services to clients and speaks at IT events all over the world.

Try a free 30-day trial of Parallels RAS today.


How to Use Virtual Desktops in Windows 10: How-to Geek

Virtual Desktops:

Virtual Desktops: Wikipedia

What is a Virtual Desktop, and Why Should You Care?: Small Business Computing

Virtual Desktops:

Parallels: Remote Desktop Manager


Applies to: Windows Server (Semi-Annual Channel), Windows Server 2019, Windows Server 2016

Use the following steps to create the virtual machines in the tenant's environment that will be used to run the Windows Server 2016 roles, services, and features required for a desktop hosting deployment.

For this example of a basic deployment, the minimum of 3 virtual machines will be created. One virtual machine will host the Remote Desktop (RD) Connection Broker and License Server role services and a file share for the deployment. A second virtual machine will host the RD Gateway and Web Access role services. A third virtual machine host the RD Session Host role service. For very small deployments, you can reduce VM costs by using AAD App Proxy to eliminate all public endpoints from the deployment and combining all the role services onto a single VM. For larger deployments, you can install the various role services on individual virtual machines to allow better scaling.

This section outlines the steps necessary to deploy virtual machines for each role based on Windows Server images in the Microsoft Azure Marketplace. If you need to create virtual machines from a custom image, which requires PowerShell, check out Create a Windows VM with Resource Manager and PowerShell. Then return here to attach Azure data disks for the file share and enter an external URL for your deployment.

Virtual Remote Desktop Windows 10

  1. Create Windows virtual machines to host the RD Connection Broker, RD License Server, and File server.

    For our purpose, we used the following naming conventions:

    • RD Connection Broker, License Server, and File Server:

      • VM: Contoso-Cb1
      • Availability set: CbAvSet
    • RD Web Access and RD Gateway Server:

      • VM: Contoso-WebGw1
      • Availability set: WebGwAvSet
    • RD Session Host:

      • VM: Contoso-Sh1
      • Availability set: ShAvSet

    Each VM uses the same resource group.

  2. Create and attach an Azure data disk for the user profile disk (UPD) share:

    1. In the Azure portal click Browse > Resource groups, click the resource group for the deployment, and then click the VM created for the RD Connection Broker (for example, Contoso-Cb1).
    2. Click Settings > Disks > Attach new.
    3. Accept the defaults for name and type.
    4. Enter a size (in GB) that is large enough to hold network shares for the tenant's environment, including user profile disks and certificates. You can approximate 5 GB per user you plan to have
    5. Accept the defaults for location and host caching, and then click OK.
  3. Create an external load balancer to access the deployment externally:

    1. In the Azure portal click Browse > Load balancers, and then click Add.
    2. Enter a Name, select Public as the Type of load balancer, and select the appropriate Subscription, Resource Group, and Location.
    3. Select Choose a public IP address, Create new, enter a name, and select Ok.
    4. Select Create to create the load balancer.
  4. Configure the external load balancer for your deployment

    1. In the Azure portal click Browse > Resource groups, click the resource group for the deployment, and then click the load balancer you created for the deployment.
    2. Add a backend pool for the load balancer to send traffic to:
      1. Select Backend pool and Add.
      2. Enter a Name and select + Add a virtual machine.
      3. Select Availability set and WebGwAvSet.
      4. Select Virtual machines, Contoso-WebGw1, Select, OK, and OK.
    3. Add a probe so the load balancer knows what machines are active:
      1. Select Probes and Add.
      2. Enter a Name (like HTTPS), select TCP, enter Port 443, and select OK.
    4. Enter load balancing rules to balance the incoming traffic:
      1. Select Load balancing rules and Add
      2. Enter a Name (like HTTPS), select TCP, and 443 for both the Port and the Backend port.
        • For a Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016 Deployment, leave Session persistence as None, otherwise select Client IP.
      3. Select OK to accept the HTTPS rule.
      4. Create a new rule by selecting Add.
      5. Enter a Name (like UDP), select UDP, and 3391 for both the port and the **Backend port.
        • For a Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016 deployment, leave Session persistence as None, otherwise select Client IP.
      6. Select OK to accept the UDP rule.
    5. Enter an inbound NAT rule to directly connect to Contoso-WebGw1
      1. Select Inbound NAT rules and Add.
      2. Enter a Name (like RDP-Contoso-WebGw1), select Customm for the service, TCP for the protocol, and enter 14000 for the Port.
      3. Select Choose a virtual machine and Contoso-WebGw1.
      4. Select Custom for the port mapping, enter 3389 for the Target port, and select OK.
  5. Enter an external URL/DNS name for your deployment to access it externally:

    1. In the Azure portal, click Browse > Resource groups, click the resource group for the deployment, and then click the public IP address you created for RD Web Access and RD Gateway.
    2. Click Configuration, enter a DNS name label (like contoso), and then click Save. This DNS name label ( is the DNS name that you'll use to connect to your RD Web Access and RD Gateway server.