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

Microsoft is finally allowing users to run Windows 7 and 8 in the cloud, but for development and test purposes only.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

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.

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