VMware Horizon Announcements Employee Experience

VMware Horizon 8 version 2303 release improves customer experience and advances support for Horizon Cloud next-gen

The newest release of VMware Horizon® 8 version 2303 is now available. It includes features that enhance the end-user experience and improve admin efficiency. This blog will cover the key features released. For a complete list, visit the VMware Horizon 8 2303 Release Notes.  

Enhanced end-user experience 

Following are the new features that Horizon 2303 is delivering to enhance the end-user experience, including improvements to Teams, Blast support for AV1 codec and Mac M1-RM, and user notifications. 

Enhanced graphics and video with AV1 codec, and new GPUs

Horizon has added AV1 codec support. With support for higher compression rates, end users will experience faster rendering with better quality for high-end graphics and videos. VMware has collaborated with both Intel and Nvidia to ensure the AV1 codec is compatible with their GPUs and provides end users with a better virtual experience. Horizon now supports Intel® Data Center GPU Flex Series and Intel® Arc GPUs providing more choice, flexibility, and cost options on an open platform that does not require virtualization licensing costs. Learn more about how VMware has worked with Intel to encode and decode AV1 on their GPUs. 

Boosted experience with improved screen share and capture functionality on Microsoft Teams

This release brings two new screen share enhancements to Microsoft Teams. End users in a Teams session can now share an individual app instead of a full screen share. This ability gives end users the control and privacy they require when app sharing. Additionally, end users can take a screenshot during a screen share and be able to access the screenshot when needed. Both features are now available with the Windows client and improve the end user virtual experience while using Teams. 

Improved graphics for the Mac client 

The Blast Codec now supports the Mac M1-ARM. The addition of the Blast Codec to the Mac client with M1 processor snow gives end users a much better experience with general purpose workloads such as Microsoft Office applications, as well as on mixed screens running both Office apps and multimedia. The Blast Codec’s ability to offer a great experience with general purpose productivity applications coupled with maximum resource efficiencies at the backend will now bring M1-based Macs on par with other native clients running Horizon.  

Notifications to troubleshoot connectivity issues with bad connections

Horizon will provide end users with notifications if their internet connection is poor or bad, allowing end users to identify and troubleshoot their issues. Armed with this notification, end users can understand that performance issues are stemming from their network connection and not the virtual experience.  

Internet connection unstable notification
Figure 1. Horizon will provide end users with notifications when the internet connection is unstable. 

Improvements to admin efficiency and troubleshooting 

Horizon 8 2303 introduces new features that improve admin efficiency with new APIs for automation, log-in failure identification, and DEM search capabilities as well as more integration for Horizon 8 and Horizon Cloud Service next-gen.  

More automation delivery via RESTful APIs 

Horizon 2303 features new RESTful APIs that provide better automation scripts for connecting the Horizon Edge Gateway — as part of Horizon Cloud next-gen — as well as monitoring, secondary credentials, Virtual Center, and User or Group Global Summary. These scripts improve the scalability and performance of Horizon while easing the burden on IT admins. All new RESTful APIs are available for download from the VMware Horizon Server API site. 

Pinpointing log-in issues 

Log-in failures can occur for several reasons, such as using incorrect credentials or even a timed-out session. When a log-in failure occurs, Horizon provides a detailed error message on the failure. Pinpointing the reason for the failure will allow admins to troubleshoot faster and take corrective measures to get end-users connected and productive.  

Robust DEM search for administrative efficiency 

Dynamic Environment Manager (DEM) has added the ability to search configuration files to allow admins to easily make changes. With this search capability, admins can pinpoint and act on changes that need to be made to the files — such as updating or deleting config files, changing policies, managing drive and printer mappings and more — allowing for higher levels of efficiency and time savings.  

DEM Screen Shot
Figure 2. DEM has added the ability to search configuration files for more efficient profile management.

Support for hybrid Microsoft Azure Active Directory

VMware Horizon 2303 supports limited deployment types for hybrid Azure Active Directory (AD) configuration. This allows for end users to sign into applications that utilize Azure AD for authentication, such as SaaS applications and Microsoft cloud services (Office 365, Dynamics 365, Azure). User single sign-on (SSO) into Azure-assigned applications is available for a hybrid Azure AD deployment (hybrid Azure AD join), where the on-prem active directory is connected to Azure AD either using Azure AD Connect or ADFS. Manual desktop pools, automated full clones, and instant clone desktop pools (both floating and dedicated) will support all hybrid AD deployments. This support lets admins easily assign or manage user access to cloud applications in addition to on-premises infrastructure and applications. For more details, please reference the knowledge base

Android and iOS client support for Horizon Cloud next-gen

The client agent release for Horizon 2203 is providing support for the Android and iOS clients for customers running Horizon Cloud next-gen, allowing admins to easily connect to services on these devices. With the addition of mobile platform support, admins can access the Horizon Cloud Service from anywhere and on any device. 

Authentication support for Microsoft Azure AD on Horizon Cloud next-gen 

For customers who are running Horizon 8 on premises and have adopted Horizon Cloud next-gen, desktops can now be authenticated, and domain joined to Azure AD, removing the requirement to be domain joined on premises. Now all group management can be performed in Azure AD, allowing customers to manage effectively from the cloud. 

Additional announcements

The following are some more Horizon updates.  

VMware Horizon Cloud next-gen now extends to hybrid deployments

Horizon customers with Horizon SaaS subscriptions can use their on-premises and cloud deployments to connect to Horizon Cloud next-gen, enabling a hybrid cloud experience. Customers will have the flexibility of deploying virtual desktops and apps in Microsoft Azure with an option to also run Horizon 8 on premises or in the cloud, while leveraging the lower costs and scale benefits of the Horizon Cloud next-gen platform. Learn more about Horizon 8 deployments on the Horizon Cloud Service next-gen site.

Get faster remediation with self-service diagnostics 

VMware Skyline Health Diagnostics (SHD), now in tech preview, is a self-service health and diagnostics platform to detect issues using log bundles, configuration, and other information. It provides recommendations in the form of a Knowledge Base article with procedures to remediate issues in the vSphere, vSAN, VMware Cloud Foundation SDDC Manager, and VMware Horizon product lines. The tool can also help catch issues before they become widespread problems in the environment and lead to costly downtime. Visit the documentation page for more information on installing and configuring SHD.  

Skype for Business optimization plug-in will no longer be supported

Horizon will no longer support the Skype for Business optimization plug-in. After version 2303, this plug-in will no longer be available for download and installation on new software updates. However, it will still be distributed with the older client and agent version.  

Impact of Microsoft security update on customers using certificate-based authentication

Please note that the Microsoft security update (KB5014754) will impact customers using certificate-based authentication, such as smartcards. If you have applied this update to your Windows OS and if your certificates are not mapped to one of the strong mapping types described in the Microsoft Knowledge Base, then users will be denied authentication when the full enforcement mode is activated by Microsoft (currently planned for November 2023). To help you start planning and to avoid this issue, the next release of Horizon (likely 2306, but subject to change) will allow admins to configure certificate mappings to one of the strong types from the Horizon console. Please refer to  VMware KB91515 for more details on this change. 

Learn more about the 2303 Release 

This is only a highlight of what is available in Horizon 8 version 2303. There are many more features that I didn’t cover in this blog, but you can find a deep dive on all these and more in the Horizon 8 2303 Release Notes

Taking advantage of new features as they are released is one benefit to upgrading to our Horizon subscription license. You can download Horizon version 2303 by visiting VMware Customer Connect.