During the COVID19 pandemic we have seen a large proportion of the workforce working from home, which has lead to a huge increase of video conferencing, instead of face to face meetings. Zoom and Microsoft Teams are two of the most popular clients used.
Zoom has gone from 10 million daily users in December 2019, up to 300 million users in April 2020, and I am sure that number may be even higher now
Up until now, Zoom has been unsupported on Windows Virtual Desktop. That changed last week when Zoom released their plugin for WVD.
The plugin offloads the Video encoding and decoding to the local client, and also communication to the Zoom Cloud. This gives the users a much better user experience. The diagram below is for Citrix, but the WVD Plugin works in a very similar way.
It’s worth noting that the VDI Client doesn’t have all the same features as the full client. You can view the full list here VDI client features comparison – Zoom Help Center
|Feature||VDI client||Desktop client||Web client|
|Recording||Cloud only||Local or Cloud||Cloud only|
|Virtual Backgrounds and Filters||Windows and third-party apps, hardware permitting||Any camera, no green screen required, hardware permitting||Using third-party apps, hardware permitting|
|Sharing||Desktop, apps, portion of desktop||Desktop, apps, audio, camera, Airplay, portion of desktop||Chrome (desktop, apps) Edge (desktop, apps), Firefox (desktop only)|
|Dual monitor mode||✔|
|Video participants||Up to 25 visible at once||Up to 49 visible at once||Active speaker|
|Video resolution||1080p max, 360 typical on thin hardware||1080p max||720p max|
|Computer audio (VOIP)||✔||✔||✔|
To get this working we have to install the Zoom VDI Client on the WVD Desktop, and a plugin on the host.
First of all we need to head over to the Zoom website and download the correct client, which is the VDI Client. The URL for this is VDI downloads and backwards compatibility – Zoom Help Center
At the time of writing the VDI Client is 3.3.2.
This is the version we need to install onto the WVD image
Once installed, you should see a Zoom VDI icon, and be able to launch Zoom successfully
Next we need to install the plugin on the host your will be launching your WVD Desktop from. Head back over to the Zoom website and install the WVD Plugin. The link for the VDI Plugin is 5.4.59208.1207 (zoom.us)
Once installed try joining a Zoom meeting and test that everything is working as it should be. If it is, then you should be able to access your Webcam and Microphone. If the plugin is not installed or there is a problem, you will not be able to use your webcam or microphone, and you will receive an error message
The results of my testing were very positive! As the Webcam and Microphone were being accessed directly, the audio and video quality were crystal clear. Looking at the processes running on the WVD Desktop, we can see that Zoom is using pretty much zero resources:
But then we look at the host and we can see that the Remote Desktop client is taking the hit for the Network and GPU, which is the WVD Plugin for the Client. The Zoom plugin is offloading the video encoding and decoding
Configuration for the Enterprise
If you need to deploy Zoom to your enterprise then there are a few resources to help you. There are some VDI Client Registry settings than can be used to tweak and tune the client. You can configure stuff like fallback behaviour, ports to use, logging etc. These could potentially be put into a GPO also. You can view the full list here –https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/360032343371-VDI-Client-Registry-Settings
There are also some MSI switches you can use if you need to deploy it via any scripts or other software delivery methods. You can view those here
In summary I was very impressed with the WVD Plugin. It was super simple to setup and works very well. If you are using WVD and have a requirement for Zoom meetings then you should look into this and try it. The only downside it only seems to be supported on Windows for now, but hopefully that will change in the future to include MacOS and others.