Windows 7 and 8.1 now usable in Azure virtual machines, but for developers only

Windows 7 and 8.1 now usable in Azure virtual machines, but for developers only

Summary: Microsoft is finally allowing users to run Windows 7 and 8 in the cloud, but for development and test purposes only.


Up until this week, running Windows client in a Windows Azure virtual machine (VM) was pretty much a big no-no. Microsoft's licensing police frowned on the practice other than in cases of running remote desktop services on Azure VMs.


But this week, Microsoft changed its tune -- though only for limited use cases. In a largely under-the-radar announcement at its TechEd conference in Houston, Microsoft announced that it is making available in the Azure VM Gallery Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 Enterprise images.

The new Windows client images are for MSDN subscribers only. And they are meant to be used exclusively for application development and testing purposes, officials stressed. Microsoft already makes available Visual Studio 2013 images for use in Azure VMs, but developers could, if they so desired, also opt to add Visual Studio 2013 to the new Windows 7/Windows 8.1 images, officials said.

For a step-by-step explanation as to how to select and deploy these new Windows images in the cloud, check out this blog post from Microsoft Technical Evangelist Yung Chou.

Some TechEd attendees have wondered aloud whether the inclusion of Windows images in the Azure gallery signifies that Microsoft is planning to allow users and/or partners to offer Windows/Office in traditional desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) form.

But Microsoft officials at TechEd insisted that the new Windows client images for Azure should not be seen as an indication that Microsoft is planning to adopt a traditional DaaS strategy. Microsoft execs said at TechEd that they believe most users prefer app-remoting to app-streaming/VDI, and that's why the company is going the Azure RemoteApp route to address these kinds of scenarios.

Topics: Cloud, Microsoft, Software Development, Windows, Windows 8


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Additional User Accounts

    I could not open apps such as skype, IE, etc with my administrator account. Is there anyway of adding user accounts
    • Additional User Accounts

      Go to This PC, Manage to create new user accounts.
      • Additional User Accounts

        I figured it out. I used the old control panel. I think windows 8 had a users app or something like that.
  • I was looking for this more than 5 years ago.

    With the widespread use of tablets and phablets, this is now a tremendous opportunity. By using RDP, a mobile user has complete access to a full blown computer. Enterprise users can thus have Windows in the cloud as their OS and a (don't care) tablet as their hardware. The beautiful things are it's Windows from anywhere, zero administration. The holy grail finally attained.

    With the competition from mobile OS'es (actually there is not much competition as mobile OS'es are still single tasking single window OS'es) Microsoft should have enhanced Windows to make it even more productive for end users. Instead Microsoft crippled Windows 8 to turn users away. Utterly shocking.
    • I also have similar idea

      I even registered a domain called The issue was that in the area where I live, I can't have ADSL to upload win8/win7 images into Azure because of cable theft in South Africa. The other challenge would be to strike a licensing deal with MS
  • But too expensive

    At $13.40++ a month for XS is unaffordable.