How to deploy Windows 7 Enterprise with Windows Virtual Desktop

In addition to Windows Server and Windows 10, you can also use Windows 7 Enterprise for your Windows Virtual Desktop host pool. The rollout is slightly different than with Windows 10. There are a number of additional steps to be taken. In this blog I will go through this step-by-step.

When you use Windows 7 in combination with Windows Virtual Desktop, you get the free Extended Security Updates for another 3 years (starting from the original expiration date). This gives companies more time to migrate from Windows 7 to Windows 10 and until the migration, use their current Windows 7 Enterprise image with Windows Virtual Desktop.

Unfortunately there are also some disadvantages when using Windows 7 in combination with Windows Virtual Desktop.

  • No multi-user, so one user per VM
  • Only support for a full published desktop (RemoteApps not supported)
  • Time zone redirection is not supported
  • Automatic DPI scaling not supported (only manually)

That being said, let’s see how to deploy Windows 7 Enterprise with Windows Virtual Desktop.

Step 1 : Create a Windows 7 Enterprise VM in Azure

Before you can deploy Windows 7 Enterprise for Windows Virtual Desktop, you need to install some Windows updates and make some configurations. If you need to deploy a few (or many) Windows 7 VMs, I recommend to create a custom / master image including the required updates, configuration and your Line of Business apps installed on it.

To do so, login to the Microsoft Azure portal and navigate to Virtual machines.

Click the Add button and click Virtual machine

Select the Subscription and the Resource group. Give the VM a name and select the Region. By Image click See all images.

Search for Windows 7 and select Windows 7 Enterprise.

Select a VM Size and fill in the information for the Administrator account. Make sure you can connect to the VM, in this case I will open Inbound port RDP (3389).

Select I confirm I have an eligible Windows 10 license with multi-tenant hosting rights (if you do) and click Next : Disks.

Select the OS disk type. In this case I will select Premium SSD. Click Next : Networking.

Select the current Network and Subnet and optionally the inbound ports. Click Review + create.

Click Create

Step 2 : Update and customize the image

Once the Windows 7 VM is deployed, connect to it with the local Administrator account.

Open Windows Update and install all Important and Optional updates. Make sure the .NET framework is at least version 4.7.2 and that all .NET framework update have been installed. The optional Remote Desktop Protocol 8.0 update (KB2592687) is required for using Windows Virtual Desktop, double check if that update is installed.

After that, install your Line of Business applications if desired.

Open the Local Group Policy Editor (run gpedit) and navigate to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Remote Desktop Services > Remote Desktop Session Host > Remote Session Environment.

Enable the Enable the Remote Desktop Protocol 8.0 policy setting.

Step 3 : Create a custom image for deployment (optional)

At this point you can create a custom image with all the updates and changes of the current VM. This so you can easily deploy multiple other Windows 7 VMs with this image as the basic. I will not go in detail about how to do this, I have written another blog that already describes all the required steps. Follow step 2 to step 5 of this blog for all the step-by-step instructions.

Step 4 : Create an empty Windows Virtual Desktop Host pool

We need to create an empty Windows Virtual Desktop Host pool (a host pool without VMs). Therefor go to the Microsoft Azure portal and open the Windows Virtual Desktop blade.

Click Create a host pool

Select your Subscription and the Resource group. Give the host pool a name and select the Location for the metadata. Select the host pool type, keep in mind that Windows 7 Enterprise is not multi-user, so max 1 user per VM. Can be random from a pool, or a personal VDI.

Click Next: Virtual Machines

Don’t add virtual machines at this moment. Click Next: Workspace

Select a current workspace or make a new one. Click Review + create

Click Create

After the deployment, go to the Overview blade of the Host pool and click Registration key.

Download this Registration key (txt file), or copy it to a Notepad or something. We need this key when joining the Windows 7 devices to this host pool.

You can also configure the host pool with the desired RDP Property settings and the friendly name of the session desktop. I will not cover those settings in this blog.

Step 5 : Prepare and join the Windows 7 VM(s) to the Host pool

Go back to the Windows 7 VM you want to join with the just created Windows Virtual Desktop Host pool.

Open Computer Management, navigate to Local Users and Groups > Groups and open the Remote Desktop Users group

Add the local admin account to this group. You need this to be able to connect with this account after the domain join.

To join this VM to the domain, open Control Panel and navigate to System and Security > System. Click Change settings (1), click Network ID (2) and change the setting to Domain (3). Fill in the domain name to join and click OK. Authenticate with a user account that has rights to join machines to the domain and click OK.

Restart the VM.

Download the Windows Virtual Desktop Agent for Windows 7.

Start the installation and click Next

Check mark I accept the terms in the License Agreement (if you do) and click Next

Past the Windows Virtual Desktop Host pool registration token in this window (remove the INVALID_TOKEN text).

Click Next

Click Install

Click Finish

Download the Windows Virtual Desktop Agent Manager for Windows 7.

Start the installation and click Next

Check mark I accept the terms in the License Agreement (if you do) and click Next

Click Install

Click Finish

After a minute the VM will be available within the Windows Virtual Desktop host pool.

It is also recommended at this point to remove the public IP (if you had one attached to the VM) and disable the RDP port.

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About Robin Hobo

I work as a Senior Solution Architect with focus on the Modern Workspace. I am specialized in Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD), Windows 365 and Microsoft EM+S (including Microsoft Endpoint Manager - Microsoft Intune).

For my full bio, check the About Me page.

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