Want to run Windows 10 desktops virtually on Azure? Now you can

Citrix XenDesktop Essentials, which allows users access to Windows 10 Enterprise virtual desktops on Azure, is here. It'll cost you $12 per user per month.

Citrix XenDesktop Essentials -- the promised Citrix Cloud service for delivering Windows 10 Enterprise virtual desktops on Azure -- is now available for purchase.

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As of this week, we finally know the pricing for this service. XenDesktop Essentials costs $12 per user per month (or $144 per user per year). There's a 25-user minimum for the service and billing is charged monthly.

To date, users have been able to run Windows 7 and 8.1 clients on Azure in virtual machines, but only for development and test purposes. Doing so otherwise would be a violation of licensing terms.

Last year, Microsoft officials said that Microsoft customers with Windows Per User License (Windows 10 E3/E5 Per User or Windows VDA Per User) have rights to a new virtualization benefit that will allow users to run Windows 10 Enterprise Current Branch for Business (CBB) on Azure and qualified third-party partners. I believe users must have Software Assurance via an Enterprise volume-licensing agreement to actually purchase this new offering.

Recently, Citrix had said XenDesktop Essentials would be available in the first calendar quarter of 2017. Looks like the company made it, just under the wire.

In the Azure Marketplace, the XenDesktop Essentials listing calls the new offering "the first Citrix Cloud service to be available exclusively in the Azure Marketplace." Citrix describes XenDesktop Essentials as a way to "simplify Windows 10 on Azure deployment and management at-scale."

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Credit: Microsoft

Citrix' other new virtualization offering is also available in the Azure Marketplace. XenApp Essentials (the technology formerly known as XenApp Express) is meant to replace Microsoft's Azure RemoteApp, which Microsoft announced last year it would be phasing out.

While XenDesktop Essentials allows users to run Windows 10 desktops virtually, the XenApp Essentials service lets them have business apps delivered remotely from Azure.

"XenApp Essentials is the fastest and easiest way to securely deliver Windows apps from Microsoft Azure to any Device," says the XenApp Essentials listing in the Marketplace. "Citrix and Microsoft deliver an integrated experience that simplifies onboarding for XenApp Essentials and Azure IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service), providing a single interface to design, deploy and deliver virtualized Windows apps from Azure.

Citrix also refers to XenApp Essentials as "RemoteApp 2.0." Azure RemoteApp, codenamed "Mohoro," was Microsoft's cloud-based offering brought together on-premises RemoteApp technology, and Remote Desktop Services on the back-end.

There's a 25-user minimum for XenApp Essentials. It's available for $12 per user per month (or $144 per user per year), and as far as I know, it also requires an Enterprise Agreement/Software Assurance license. Customers can bring their own existing license or subscribe to Microsoft Remote Access for $6.25 per user per month via the Azure Marketplace, which alleviates the need for a separate RDS client-access-license for the workload.

The service can be used for temporary or contract workers or for those who need access to legacy Windows apps.

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