Publish Visual Studio 2013 Ultimate in Microsoft Azure via Remote Desktop Services

by Marin Franković on 7 April, 2014

This blog post is inspired by supercool demo that we did at Windays 2014 keynote and it depicts how to configure Windows Server 2012 R2 Remote Desktop Services and publish Visual Studio 2012 Ultimate application as RemoteApp to be used from basically anywhere and from any device.

This tutorial will not cover on how to enable federation with local AD, but rather on how to deploy AD in Azure and RDS in Azure and how to connect to it. Everything here describer falls under current Microsoft licensing model.

Lets start by explaining what virtual machines we will need and how to configure them.

  • 1 virtual network
  • 1 virtual machine that will server as Domain Controller
  • 1 virtual machine that will serve as RD Session Host, RD Connection Broker, RD Web Access and RD Licensing (this is not recommended implementation scenario but for this particular demo it works)

This article describes how to create virtual network in Azure and how to add virtual machine to it and promote it to domain controller ( When finished, just add another virtual machine in the same network and join it to created domain. For the purpose of this demo, I used Small instance VM for domain controller and Large for RDS roles and Visual Studio. There is already created virtual machine with Visual Studio in Azure gallery so you can use that one.

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Two virtual machines used for this demo

Next step is to install RDS in virtual machine with Visual Studio. By using Server Manager select Remote Desktop Services Installation ad select Quick Mode and then Session-based desktop deployment. All above mentioned roles should be installed on virtual machine with Visual Studio in it.

Note: I have additionally installed RD Licensing role on the same virtual machine just for this demo.

After you have finished, you should have something like this:

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Notice that only RD Gateway is not installed and configured. There are no special configuration tasks that have to be done in Quick Mode installation. The only thing we have to do is to publish Visual Studio or any other application.

To publish new app follow these steps:

  1. Open Server Manager
  2. Select Remote Desktop Services
  3. Select Quick Session Collection
  4. In RremoteApp programs select tasks and select Publish RemoteApp programs. Wizard is self explanatory

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Next steps are needed to configure your client computer to access Visual Studio via RDS.

  1. Start Notepad as Administrator
  2. Open host file (c:\windows\system32\drivers\etc)
  3. Add Public virtual IP (VIP) address of your Visual Studio virtual machine in Azure and map it to its name (in my example that is marin-vs-02.demo.local)

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Of course, you can have your custom domain name here. Be aware that this IP will change once you turn off and on your virtual machine in Microsoft Azure.

Open your RDS publishing page in IE by typing in name of your Visual Studio Virtual machine, in my case https://marin-vs-02.demo.local/rdweb. You will probably get certificate error but for now you can ignore it and continue to your page.

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You can login as any domain user, but for purpose of my demo I created one user to use in this scenario. After successful logon, you should see all your published applications.

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Select your app, Visual Studio in my case and when remote Desktop windows pops up select Connect and select Yes for certificate.

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In couple of seconds you should be seeing your application as if it is running locally on your computer but in a fact it is running in virtual machine in Microsoft Azure.

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As you can see, local Task Manager on the left does not show Visual Studio as running app but server one on the right shows it.

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When you are done with your demo, do not forget to shutdown virtual machines from Azure portal so they are de-allocated and not using any resources.

This is all great if you are doing it from standard PC where you can in may situations install Visual Studio directly. This scenario is interesting in situations where you do not have our PC at hand or you want to run Visual Studio from device on which it can not be installed, such as Surface 2.

Here is video on doing just that, running Visual Studio from RDS in Microsoft Azure on Surface 2 tablet!

Leave your comment below!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

T October 11, 2014 at 20:05

What about the necessity that most development in Visual Studio is run as Administrator (elevated)?


Marin Franković October 12, 2014 at 20:05


here is a good article on that,


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