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The place where I page to when my brain is full up of stuff about the Microsoft platform

Evaluate This–VDI

Microsoft is serious about Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, and the first sign of this in Windows server is when you try and add a role or feature..


If you opt for install Remote Desktop Services Installation and select Virtual Desktops as in my short screencast you can see that a lot of work has gone in to making this as simple as possible.  However there is more to VDI in Windows Server 2012 than a good installation experience for example:

  • Hardware Optimisation with RemoteFX.  Making use of spare CPU capacity on your hosts to spoof a powerful graphics card into the desktops for multi-touch, and multiple screens
  • Dynamic memory has start up memory settings as an option so you can quickly start a Windows 7/8 VM with a lot of memory then peg it back to a lower running value until the VM is under memory pressure when it can get more subject to priorities you set.
  • User Profile Disks.  These are differencing disks where each users state and profile are stored.  These differences are based on the gold image you use to create your VDI environment for example a Windows 8 machine with Office 2010 on.  The clever bit is that if you wanted to revise or patch this gold image, say to put Office 2013 on, then you can do this without users’ losing their profiles and they’ll get the new version once they log off and log in again.


In this screencast I put all of the  Pooled VDI virtual machines’ storage onto a highly available file server (this  post shows you how I built that) and this is where my user profile disks are also stored so that no matter which physical host a user gets their pooled desktop from they will still get their own user settings.

I used a separate VM for each role in my remote desktop infrastructure, however if you elect for a quick setup then you can have all the roles on the one physical host from which the virtual desktops will run as well.

There’s a more details lab guide here, and you can easily navigate to other labs form here for a quick setup as well.  Either way you’ll need an Evaluation Copy of Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8