Microsoft readies Office for virtual desktop services, including Windows Virtual Desktop

Microsoft is adding new features to Outlook, Teams, OneDrive and other Office apps to pave the way for their use in virtualized scenarios, including with Windows Virtual Desktop.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft is adding new features to Office to improve its use in virtualized environments, including its coming Windows Virtual Desktop service. The changes announced today affect Office 365 Pro Plus, Outlook, OneDrive, and Teams. 

Microsoft acquired former partner FSLogix in November 2018. At that time, officials said they planned to use the company's technology to improve Office 365 virtualization. In a blog post today, July 1, Microsoft officials said that the FSLogix container technology, which Microsoft has integrated with Office apps in virtual environments from Microsoft, Citrix and VMWare, will be available for no additional cost for Microsoft 365 business customers.

Those covered under the no-additional-cost plan are users with Microsoft 365 E3/E5/A3/A5/F1 and Business; Windows 10 Enterprise E3/E5; Windows 10 Education A3/A5; Windows 10 VDA per user; and Remote Desktop Services (RDS) licenses. Windows Virtual Desktop users are not listed here because the WVD service is still in preview and not available yet commercially. Microsoft officials have said WVD will be available later this year.

Microsoft officials said today that "in the coming months" Windows Server 2019 will support OneDrive Files On Demand for use with virtualized Office apps. Microsoft also will be supporting Office 365 ProPlus running on Windows Server 2019 so they can take advantage of these coming Files On-Demand capabilities with Windows Server 2019.

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Microsoft also has made improvements to how Office apps including Outlook, OneDrive and Teams will work in virtual environments, which it lists in today's blog post. Teams will be getting support for Windows Virtual Desktop, performance enhancements and optimized caching for non-persistent settings in the future, according to today's post. (No timeframe was provided, but Calling and Meetings in Teams will be getting audio/video media optimization, something Microsoft is doing with Citrix, "in the coming months.")

Windows Virtual Desktop, or WVD, is a coming Microsoft service that provides multi-session Windows 10 and support for Windows Server RDS desktop and apps. WVD will allow users to virtualize Windows 7 and 10, Office 365 ProPlus apps and other third-party applications by running them remotely in Azure virtual machines. Microsoft officially announced WVD at its Ignite show in September last year. Microsoft released a public preview of WVD in March 2019.

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