Windows 10 VDI optimization: a compilation of the best practices

Windows 10 is everywhere! Microsoft is pushing us to use their latest Operating System (OS) as never before. As you already know, the new OS brings a lot of challenges to business environments. Especially if you want to run it as a VDI. Just think of the revised OS update strategy: Windows As A Service and you’ll know challenges await. But that’s only the beginning, don’t forget the Universal Windows Applications, the revised first user login, new windows features such as Cortana, Windows Hello… I think you catch my drift.

Windows 10 has been out there for a while now (since July 2015) and the virtualization community has built up a lot of expertise in their efforts to optimize it as a VDI. Comprehensive tests have been performed, whitepapers and blogposts have been written and many tools have been developed. There is a lot of content available on this topic and I would like to thank everyone who contributed to this. Through this blogpost, I want to give an overview of the most interesting material (I ran into).

General Windows OS Optimizations

Published by Citrix

Microsoft has automated their own VDI optimizations with a PowerShell script.

VMware took the OS optimization automation to the next level by building a tool: VMware OS Optimization Tool (VMware OSOT).

This tool is part of VMware Flings: applications and tools built by VMware engineers. If you didn’t know them yet, it’s definitely worth to take a look at the website. But keep in mind that Flings are experimental and thus not officially supported by VMware.

Windows OS Version Recommendation

With Windows 10, Microsoft has introduced a revised OS update strategy. This is being translated into different Windows versions. But which service branch should you use when you are building a VDI environment?

  • Current Branch (CB)
  • Current Branch for business (CBB)
  • Long-term Services Release (LTSR)

Rob Beekmans tells you in the following blog post:

Login Optimization

Initial login to Windows 10 can take a while because of the building of the consumer experience like Cortana, Windows Store Apps or the Windows tiles. With persistent desktops, where a local user profile is used and the user will always log on to the same desktop, this is not an issue. Only the very first logon to the desktop will be slow. But the next time the user logs on, the login time will only be 5 seconds.

As 80-90% of the VDI-environments are non-persistent, this can be quite a challenge. Especially getting a fast logon with a non-persistent Windows 10 environment can be tricky. Imagine each user has to wait a while every time he or she logs onto their Windows 10 VDI because Windows is ‘getting things ready’.

Start Screen Optimization

Offering a good user experience comes with small things, like offering a decent start menu. In Windows 10 the start menu has changed once more, so I decided to include how you can personalize the start menu for your environment.

Universal Application Removal

One of Windows 10’s most noticeable changes is the introduction of Microsoft’s Universal apps. Microsoft intended to offer a new method for delivering and creating applications that sit right alongside your old, familiar desktop applications. Universal Apps offer a unified experience across desktop, laptop, and phone. The idea is great, but not applicable to a VDI environment. Furthermore, these modern apps are not commonly used and unfortunately, they can be confusing to end-users if an application is offered as a Universal app and also as a traditional application.

Default User Profile Optimization

In order to get additional login performance benefits, you can clean up your default profile.
Note that this must be configured in Windows 10 audit mode.

He even made a Youtube movie: How to create mandatory profiles on Windows 10 (that work!)

GPO Optimization

Many thanks to Carl Webster and his comrades for helping me save hours while wrestling with infrastructure documentation. Thank God, they created automated documentation scripts! But Carl and his comrades also helped me by creating GPO best practices for XenApp and XenDesktop.

So, this was my compilation of, I hope, useful information on Windows 10 VDI optimization. Hopefully, it will save you many hours of researching.