Garage Series for Office 365: Delivering custom Office experiences with Azure RemoteApp

On today’s show, Jeremy is joined by Klaas Langhout from the Azure team to discuss the pros and cons of delivering Office desktop experiences via RemoteApp. They balance the user experiences of native apps versus remote desktop architectures. Then Klaas demonstrates how quickly an Azure RemoteApp environment running Office can be set up. 

In our last two shows we covered how eligible students can get Office for free and introduced Sway. This week we return to our IT pro roots and explain what a lot of people naturally think of when the words “cloud” and “desktop software” are brought together, Remote Desktop Services (RDS or Terminal Services as it was called 5+ years ago). While native Office experiences are optimized for most common mobile and desktop platforms with roaming settings capabilities to deliver the things you’re working on directly from Office 365, SharePoint and OneDrive, there are still a few common reasons for using RDS for Office.

  • If you have an existing RDS​ environment
  • If you need to deliver a broader set of applications with Office integration​
  • If you need to keep data off client devices​
  • In some specialized cases, if you need hosted desktops to have close proximity to data  ​

There are of course common disadvantages to using remote hosted desktops for Office.

  • User experience is often compromised when delivering desktop apps to mobile devices compared to native Office apps tailored to those devices
  • Persistent and strong network connectivity is required, no offline support
  • The infrastructure required to host desktops can be difficult to set up and manage

These are common truths for any remote desktop environment, but if we drill in on the last point, the new Azure RemoteApp capabilities remove the complexity of setting up and managing a RemoteApp environment. RemoteApp differs from an entire remote desktop, in that it only delivers the application window to the consuming device, so it looks native to the user. Azure RemoteApp is currently in preview and Office is included with a list of template applications, making it easy to get up and running. Along with that, Shared Computer Activation in Office 365 ProPlus can be used with Azure RemoteApp  and Shared Computer Activation has been available since September 1st. You can customize your own virtual hard disk (VHD) with Office 365 ProPlus along with custom line-of-business apps and upload that into Azure to deliver a broad set of integrated apps via RemoteApp to many device platforms.

Of course, we show all of this in action when Klaas demonstrates Azure RemoteApp set-up and we even show how Visio along with the rest of the Office suite can be used on an iPad via the Microsoft Remote Desktop app.

We’ve been collecting your feedback for shows and based on popular demand, we’re working on two shows dedicated to PowerShell over the next couple of weeks. The Garage Series for Office 365 will also be at TechEd Barcelona in three weeks to deliver live shows, so if you’re going to be there, be sure to stop by the Garage!

See you soon!

Jeremy Chapman

More resources

Sign up for Azure RemoteApp Preview

From Inside the Cloud Video Channel

Garage Series Video Channel

Garage Series Season 1 Blog Archive

Follow @OfficeGarage on Twitter

Office 365 Garage Series Apps for Windows Phone and Windows 8

About the Garage Series hosts

By day, Jeremy Chapman works at Microsoft, responsible for optimizing the future of Office client and service delivery as the senior deployment lead. Jeremy’s background in application compatibility, building deployment automation tools and infrastructure reference architectures has been fundamental to the prioritization of new Office enterprise features such as the latest Click-to-Run install. By night, he is a car modding fanatic and serial linguist. Klaas Langhout is a long-time desktop virtualization veteran and Principle Program Manager for the Remote Desktop Virtualization team. His background includes directory services roles within Microsoft and IT administration in financial services prior to joining Microsoft. RemoteApp