Microsoft VDI + Unidesk: Better, Simpler and Half the Cost

Microsoft VDI + Unidesk: Better, Simpler and Half the Cost

comparisonchart Lower cost than PC refresh (and 50% less than traditional VDI)

comparisonchart1 Enterprise-ready hypervisor, connection broker, protocol, and management

comparisonchart3 Microsoft-approved to leverage Windows Server and certified Azure-ready

comparisonchart4 Unidesk application layering innovation for simplicity, flexibility, and scalability


Microsoft has chosen Unidesk as its application delivery and image management partner for Microsoft VDI and Azure. Unidesk layering innovation extends the Windows Server 2012 and Hyper-V platforms to overcome the management challenges that face every VDI project:

VDI That Costs Less Than New PCs.
And 50% Less Than VDI Alternatives.

VDI Software License Cost per User

Why would you want to pay twice as much to deliver Windows desktops and apps, when you could be leveraging in-the-box Windows Server technology you may already own? Microsoft VDI and Unidesk cut desktop virtualization software licensing costs in half, finally making VDI more cost-effective than buying new PCs.

500 User Example Physical PCs Microsoft VDI + Unidesk on Hyper-V VMware Horizon Citrix XenDesktop
Hardware $400,000

500 PCs, $800 per unit


7 hosts, 10 TB storage


7 hosts, 10 TB storage


7 hosts, 10 TB storage

Software $15,000

500 licenses PC management software


500 Microsoft RDS CALs & 500 Unidesk licenses


500 licenses Horizon Enterprise & 1 license vCenter Server


500 licenses Citrix XenDesktop & 500 RDS CALs

Total (with reused PCs) $415,000 $320,000 $418,750 $437,500
Mobility & BYOD - $50,000

500-user VDA subscription


500-user VDA subscription


500-user VDA subscription

Thin/Zero Clients - $37,500

Replace 25% of PCs, $300 per


Replace 25% of PCs, $300 per


Replace 25% of PCs, $300 per

Total (with Mobility) $415,000

$830 per user


$815 per user


$1013 per user


$1050 per user

Cost Comparison Between Physical and Virtual Desktops, Including Software and Hardware

Technically On Par with the Competition?
Actually, Better.

With new features like data deduplication and dynamic memory, Hyper-V and RDP with RemoteFX have matured, and are now enterprise-ready. Add in Unidesk, and Microsoft VDI has moved ahead of the competition.

  Microsoft VDI + Unidesk on Hyper-V VMware Horizon Citrix XenDesktop
Scalable broker Microsoft RD Connection Broker VMware Horizon View Citrix XenDesktop
High-performance protocol Microsoft RDP with RemoteFX PCoIP HDX
BYOD & support for any client Microsoft RD clients VMware Horizon View clients Citrix Receiver clients
Enterprise-class hypervisor Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V VMware vSphere Citrix XenServer
Desktop provisioning Unidesk VMware View Composer Citrix Provisioning Services (PVS), Machine Creation Services
Storage optimization Unidesk VMware Linked Clones Citrix vDisk
Application virtualization Microsoft App-V VMware ThinApp Citrix XenApp
Application layering Unidesk VMware App Volumes -
Windows OS layering Unidesk - -
Personalization layering Unidesk - Citrix Personal vDisk
Profile management Microsoft UE-V VMware View Persona, VMware UEM Citrix User Profile Management
Scalable collection & pool management Unidesk VMware Horizon View Manager Citrix XenDesktop
Azure remote app layering Unidesk - -
Ebook: 7 Reasons why Microsoft VDI is ready for takeoff

Many think that RDS and Hyper-V are behind Citrix and VMware when it comes to VDI. Here are 7 technical reasons why Microsoft VDI has caught up to or surpassed the competition, with help from ISV partners like Unidesk. Get the Ebook.

Microsite 2015 Shared - Microsoft Approved (RDSH/VDI)

Microsoft Approved.

Unidesk is Microsoft’s partner for bringing application mobility to Windows customers. By extending the native capabilities of Windows Server 2012 R2 and Azure, we make Microsoft VDI more scalable, easier to manage, and suitable for all use cases.

Microsoft Partnerships

Learn more about the Microsoft and Unidesk partnership in our blog Unidesk 3.0 Brings Simplicity and Scalability to Microsoft VDI, Microsoft Ignite announcement, and our technology partner and solution partner feedback.


"Unidesk’s innovative layering technology for Microsoft VDI and Azure takes the delivery and management of remote desktops and apps to a new level. We are excited to welcome Unidesk to our partner ecosystem as they bring great new capabilities to businesses of all sizes."

Andrew Conway
Senior Director, Microsoft Enterprise Mobility

On-Demand Webinar: VDI is cheaper than PCs?

Join Microsoft Technical Product Manager for Desktop Virtualization Thomas Willingham and Unidesk VP Marketing Tom Rose for the webinar "Scalable VDI for Less Than PCs with Hyper-V, RDS, and Unidesk" presented by Redmond Magazine. Watch Webinar Now On-Demand.

Microsite 2015 Shared - Designed Win Server (RDSH/VDI)

Designed for Windows Server.

Need the technical details? Here’s how Unidesk leverages the full Windows Server feature set to maximize your ROI and reduce costs:

  • RD Connection Broker
    The Remote Desktop (RD) Connection Broker (RDCB) enables users to connect to Unidesk-provisioned virtual desktops from any device, and provides load balancing to divide loads between multiple servers in the Microsoft VDI farm.
  • RDS Collections
    Remote Desktop Services (RDS) Collections enable groups of desktops to be managed together. Unidesk scales RDS to thousands of users by enabling the same Windows OS and app layers to be used by all collections for patch-once efficiency, and by replacing PowerShell scripting and manual collection operations with simple, GUI-based management.
  • RDP with RemoteFX
    Microsoft Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) with RemoteFX provides secure, high performance access to Unidesk-provisioned virtual desktops. Starting with Windows 8.1, RDP includes WAN optimizations and adaptive encoding features that greatly enhance the performance of graphics-intensive apps and high-definition video.
  • Hyper-V
    Hyper-V hosts the Unidesk Management Console and Unidesk CachePoint virtual appliances, as well as desktops provisioned by Unidesk.
  • Hyper-V VHD
    Hyper-V’s Virtual Hard Disk (VHD) format is used to store Unidesk Windows OS, application, and personalization layers as their own virtual disks. Using this standard format makes layers easier to replicate, move, and recover.
  • Hyper-V Data Deduplication
    Hyper-V now offers built-in data deduplication that radically reduces space requirements for both non-persistent and persistent virtual desktops created by Unidesk.
  • Hyper-V Dynamic Memory
    The Dynamic Memory feature helps attain higher VM consolidation numbers and improved reliability for restart operations. This can lead to lower costs, especially in pooled VDI environments that have idle or low-load virtual machines.

Customer Proven

"Unidesk delivers the same, easy-to-manage desktop with Microsoft or VMware, which made the decision to use Microsoft VDI for our 1,200 desktop expansion easy. We'll spend significantly less than what we spent with VMware."

David Prince
Information Systems Director, Leith Management

"Hyper-V is at the point now where it does everything we need it to do at basically no cost. We've already started saving money by moving off of VMware maintenance and support."

Dion Baird
CIO, Clackamas Community College


Unidesk Capabilities for Microsoft VDI

OS Layering

Patch Windows once for your entire VDI environment.

  • Capture Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10, and Windows Server 2012 R2 as a read-only virtual disk (VHDX) “layer” that can be mounted and shared by many VMs.
  • Audit patches with version management.
  • Rollback layers to earlier versions to "undo" patching mistakes.
  • Reduce space needs up to 80% by storing OS layers once per datastore instead of once per VM.
Infographic: How much does Patch Tuesday Image Sprawl cost your IT team?
This infographic shows how much it costs to keep your Windows environment up to date - and how much you can save by being more efficient. Get the infographic.

Application Layering

Deliver apps to all desktops without installing.

  • Capture any app as a read-only virtual disk (VHDX) layer that can be mounted and shared by many VMs.
  • Achieve full interoperability - layered apps appear locally installed, not isolated like traditional app virtualization.
  • Reduce space needs up to 80% by storing apps once per datastore instead of once per VM.
  • Apply and audit layer updates with version management.
  • Rollback layers to earlier versions to “undo” patches.

Scalable Collection Management

Replace PowerShell scripting with one powerful, easy-to-use GUI

  • Create and modify RDS collections through point and click.
  • Search for desktops and session hosts by collection, user, applications, or Active Directory attributes.
  • Manage thousands of personal and pooled desktops and session hosts from the same interface.
  • Patch Windows and update applications once to update entire collections.
  • Train anyone to use one simple, intuitive GUI instead of writing PowerShell.

VM Provisioning

Create custom desktop and session host VMs from shared OS and App layers.

  • Assign a "golden" Windows OS layer that will be used for all desktops.
  • Assign application layers in any order or combination – apps will appear locally installed.
  • Select whether desktops are persistent (personal, private) or non-persistent (pooled, shared).
  • Configure physical VM settings (memory, CPU, VLAN, etc.).
  • Assign preset combinations of OS and Application layers and VM settings.
Whitepaper: The Definitive Guide to Desktop Layering
Learn why desktop layering is becoming the preferred method of application delivery, desktop provisioning, and Windows image management in VDI. Get the Ebook.

Patch, Repair, and Audit

Simplify day-to-day desktop operations.

  • Filter desktops by RDS collection, user, or Active Directory attribute.
  • Patch Windows or update apps for all desktops in a collection with one operation.
  • Repair broken applications to original IT specifications.
  • Audit application assignments for license control.
  • Fix user-created desktop problems without losing all Personalization.

Persistent Personalization

Save all customizations – even user-installed apps.

  • Provision a desktop as persistent (personal, private) to save all user customizations in the Personalization “layer” - a writable virtual disk attached to each VM.
  • Capture everything, including settings that live inside a profile, as well as documents, plug-ins, and user-installed apps that live in the Windows file system and registry.
  • Limit how much end users can store by assigning a maximum size to each desktop’s Personalization layer.
  • Make persistent desktops space-efficient by storing underlying OS and Application layers once per datastore.

Storage Optimization

Increase VM density to maximize your storage investment.

  • Provision personal/private (persistent) desktops, pooled/shared (non-persistent) desktops, and session hosts on a tiny storage footprint. OS and application layers are stored once per datastore and shared by many VMs to reduce space needs up to 80%.
  • Use any storage supported by Hyper-V, including traditional SAN arrays, hybrid arrays, and all-flash storage.
  • Thin provision virtual disk layers to further reduce actual space usage.

Schedule a Unidesk Demo →