Azure RDS vs AVD vs VDI (Pros and Cons)

In this magical world of technology we have a plethora of applications that allow you to control a computer remotely via another computer or even a mobile device whether you’re on site or off but what is the best application to use well. If you’re using Windows there’s actually a built-in option for remote desktop called remote desktop connection, though it’s only available with professional-grade editions; higher in the security isn’t the greatest thing.

The main benefits of the integrated ever solution are that it allows for a high level of control. You can manage all your applications and transfer files between personal computers with ease and it doesn’t require any additional software to set up some downsides.

There are also plenty of third-party solutions that fit the bill as well. In this article, we will discuss the pros and cons of Azure Remote Desktop Services (RDS), Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD) and Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI).

Key Differences and Functionality

Azure RDS

Azure RDS

Azure RDS is the platform of choice to cost-effectively host Windows desktops and applications. This offering is designed to help you quickly create a RDS on IaaS deployment for testing, proof-of-concept and production environments. It also deploys an Active Directory Domain. Once set up, you can connect to the published desktops and applications from various platforms and devices, using the Microsoft Remote Desktop application on Windows, Mac, iOS and Android.


AVD (Azure Virtual Desktop)

Azure Virtual Desktop, formerly known as Windows Virtual Desktop, is a Microsoft Azure-based system for virtualizing its Windows operating systems, providing virtualized desktops and applications in the cloud. It is aimed at enterprise customers rather than at individual users.


Virtual Desktop Alternatives (VDI Alternatives)

Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) is a desktop virtualization technology wherein a desktop operating system, typically Microsoft Windows, runs and is managed in a data center. The virtual desktop image is delivered over a network to an endpoint device, which allows the user to interact with the operating system and its applications as if they were running locally. The endpoint may be a traditional PC, thin client device or a mobile device.

Azure RDS vs AVD vs VDI Pros and Cons


The overall costs of running RDS are lower than AVD and VDI solutions. With RDS, licensing costs are much lower because users share a single system. AVD may fall somewhere in the middle, depending on the subscription, licensing and other factors. A VDI system is usually the most expensive, as there is an extra layer of software required to host a VDI system, most commonly Citrix or VMware.


Using a VDI setup requires many different virtual machines to support the user base, so it can be more challenging to run patches and updates. An RDS setup generally has fewer machines to patch and maintain.


The user experience is generally quicker on VDI and AVD solutions than RDS because the resources are compartmentalized and adjustable to each user. This provides a faster experience when using the system. A VDI solution would typically be recommended for AutoCAD or similar graphic-dependent software, which requires more processing power.

User Hardware

Because all the processing is being done on the server side, the end-user hardware is not as important with RDS or AVD or VDI. VDI solutions provide access clients for Mac and Windows, and in some cases iPhone and Android devices. Windows RDS has clients for Windows and Mac, however using a Windows-based PC will generally give the most consistent user experience.


RDS, AVD and VDI, all of them can be configured to restrict data from leaving the corporate network. In some ways, VDI offers its own protection. Users can access their desktops remotely from a laptop or smartphone while data lives securely on the server and not on the end client device.

Microsoft Remote Desktop Services acts as a gateway to grant access to remote desktop systems. The Microsoft Remote Desktop Services gateway uses Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) to encrypt communications and prevents the system hosting the remote desktop protocol services from being directly exposed to the public internet.

Azure Virtual Desktop is a managed virtual desktop service that includes many security capabilities for keeping your organization safe. In a Azure Virtual Desktop deployment, Microsoft manages portions of the services on the customer’s behalf. The service has many built-in advanced security features, such as Reverse Connect, which reduce the risk involved with having remote desktops accessible from anywhere.

Case Studies


The big thing that really seems to pop up a lot is the fact that Microsoft only will let you install Windows 10 Desktop or AVD in Microsoft Azure only and in the RDS you can you can literally install that anywhere you can put it in your own on-premise environment you can put it in different public cloud providers or a private cloud provider.

An added benefit to that too is with the anywhere capability of RDS that means when you host it in a cloud or maybe you have it in your on-premise environment you can migrate it from one to the other if you don’t have the necessity or you have the requirement to maybe move or migrate off or on-premise infrastructure into a cloud or from one cloud provider to another you can do that with RDS.

If you decide to deploy AVD because it sounds good, and then all of a sudden you find out it is not what you want to do. How do you get out of it? or how do you really migrate out of it?

Who is in Control

AVD is managed by Microsoft so that can be a positive to a lot of people. It is kind of hands-free, it is managed by them, they take care of a lot of the patching and the updates and all that stuff. Kind of goes on in the background it is a platform so it connects to your Office 365 Onedrive all that so there are some positives there if that is what you are looking for.

In a Microsoft remote desktop environment you have full control over it you’re managing it you can actually you know load it at another cloud service provider. They can manage the hypervisor and above all the infrastructure or you can yourself and it is actually the both is a big key differentiator there because you can actually have a hybrid deployment.

You could have RDS at an on-premise data center and then also in the cloud or use disaster recovery you can use like things like zero replication or us signals drafts to protect those workloads from one location one data center to another so it gives you a lot of flexibility depending on how you want to manage it

Final Thoughts

When it comes to virtualizing desktops, in today’s day and age that is becoming more and more of something that people are looking into. Now that folks have to be away from the office and really do not have much of a choice on it but how to get access to that there are a lot of different ways to do it there’s a lot of people that are confused at the options that are available. Hope this article helps you in figuring out which one is best for you.

Avatar for Emad Bin Abid
Emad Bin Abid

I'm a software engineer who has a bright vision and a strong interest in designing and engineering software solutions. I readily understand that in today's agile world the development process has to be rapid, reusable, and scalable; hence it is extremely important to develop solutions that are well-designed and embody a well-thought-of architecture as the baseline. Apart from designing and developing business solutions, I'm a content writer who loves to document technical learnings and experiences so that peers in the same industry can also benefit from them.

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