What is Azure RemoteApp and why should I care?

If a custom application is holding you back from completely transitioning to the cloud, then RemoteApp might be the answer.

What can RemoteApp do for me?

RemoteApp can serve individual applications from the cloud via the Remote Desktop Protocol. This means that users can access custom and legacy line of business applications from anywhere and almost any device – without the need for a server.

Microsoft Azure RemoteApp is currently in preview and it looks like a great alternative to hosted desktop for many organisations.

How is this different from standard Remote Desktop?

Technically, it’s not so different. Azure RemoteApp runs on the remote desktop protocol and it’s built into the Remote Desktop apps on iOS and Android devices. The difference between RemoteApp and Remote Desktop is that you are only serving a particular application, or set of applications, to the end user. You don’t have to worry about maintaining a server, configuring complex permissions or setting up remote access. Everything can be managed simply via the Azure Portal.


How do you give access to users?

The coolest thing about RemoteApp is how easy it is for users to access, and administrators to administer. Azure RemoteApp lets you assign programs to users via their personal Microsoft Accounts (their own email, Hotmail, Live, Outlook.com etc), or their Azure Active Directory credentials.

Side note: If you’re using Office 365, then you already have Azure Active Directory setup. When you sign up for Azure using an Office 365 admin account, you’ll be able to administer your Office 365/Azure Active Directory from the Azure portal. This is really handy if you want users to be able to access their Azure RemoteApp programs using the same credentials that they use for Office 365.


What sort of applications can it serve?

Azure RemoteApp is perfect for those custom line of business applications that would usually require their own server.

The current preview gives us a standard set of Microsoft Office Applications – but what if you want to provide your own custom industry-specific application like MYOB, Handisoft, Console, Realworks, Medical Director or Best Practice?

RemoteApp requires that we upload our own custom image with the programs preinstalled and configured. Once it’s uploaded, RemoteApp will search the image for applications that you can publish.

It’s as easy as ticking a few boxes and typing in the email addresses of the users that need access.



How do I access my RemoteApp Programs?

RemoteApp programs can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection on PC, Mac or almost any device.

You can download the RemoteApp Client for PC and Mac here. iOS and Android users can use the Remote Desktop App to access their RemoteApp applications by signing in.

MYOB running via RemoteApp on iPhone, iPad and Surface Pro 3

MYOB running via RemoteApp on iPhone, iPad and Surface Pro 3

How much does it cost?

Azure RemoteApp is currently in preview, which means it’s free to try right now. I’ll update this post when pricing information becomes available.

RemoteApp Pricing

What if I need help setting it up?

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Are the Australian Azure Datacentres available now?

Not entirely, but soon! The official word at the Microsoft Australian Partner Conference was that the Australian Azure Datacentres would be online before Christmas. The unofficial word was early October. I also heard someone say the sixth of October, but that could have been a lie.

Today I caught a glimpse of them in the wild when spinning up a WordPress site on Azure. (I’m not sure if ‘spinning up’ only refers to virtual machines, though let’s assume that it doesn’t.)

When the time came to choose the location of my MySQL database, I was presented with the following options:

Azure's Australia East and Australia Southeast Datacentres

Note the presence of Australia East and Australia Southeast!

Azure’s MySQL databases are actually managed by a company called ClearDB, though they still run on Azure’s hardware. I’m not sure what’s happened here – it may be intentional, though perhaps ClearDB has let the cat out of the bag a little early.

It might just be limited to MySQL databases. I tried creating a Virtual Machine straight away, though the closest datacentre is still Southeast Asia.





My Surface Pro 3 Arrived

I ordered a Surface Pro 3 from the Microsoft Store after trying one at the Microsoft Australia Partner Conference. It arrived last week and I put together a little video because it’s more interesting than a photo.

The setup was very simple and if you’ve used Windows 8/8.1 before with a Microsoft Account, all your settings move with you. When it turned on, I had the same apps, desktop background and email accounts setup as on my other computers.

What is it?

As a device, it’s an incredible piece of technology – It’s about as thin as an iPhone 5s and it’s more powerful than my desktop PC. It’s an i7 with 8GB of RAM, a 256gb SSD and the kind of build quality that you’d expect from Apple.

The first thing you notice is the quality of the display, it’s really, really nice to look at. It takes pen and touch input and, unlike the Surface Pro 1 and 2, it’s got a 3×2 aspect ratio – so it’s easy to hold it any way you like.

What does it do?

More importantly than any of that, the device is great because it allows you to work, create and play without limits. It can replace your laptop, your tablet and your desktop PC. Use it with the docking station on 3 HD monitors, take it on a plane for mobile productivity, make handwritten notes that sync with all your devices or pick up an Xbox wireless controller for gaming.

Microsoft are marketing the Surface Pro 3 as the tablet that can replace your laptop. And that’s a pretty accurate claim – I’m still carrying around an extra iPad for customer demos, though I’m no longer using it outside of work.

The Surface Pro 3 is the embodiment of Microsoft’s Mobile first, Cloud first vision. A great ‘everything’ device that runs everything that you want it to, whenever and wherever you need it.


Would be nice if it had an LTE option for mobile internet – though it hasn’t been an issue tethering it with a phone or 4G modem.



You’re connected to too many services (Fix)

If you work across a number of SharePoint, OneDrive or OneDrive For Business accounts, then you’ll probably run into this message from time to time:

You are connected to too many services - Office 365

This message might appear when you try to add a SharePoint Site, OneDrive location or even connect your Office Applications with Facebook or LinkedIn.

Unfortunately it looks like this is a limitation in Office, though it’s not too difficult to resolve.

Just click on Account in the File menu to remove the extra services:

Remove extra services from Office 365

The Results are in!

The Microsoft Australia Partner Conference of 2014 finished last week, and we were up for a MAPA award in the Small Business Partner of the Year Category.

Watch a little video of the big moment here:

Unfortunately we didn’t win, though congratulations to X Central for their winning customer solution (which was also nominated at the World Partner Conference in Seattle!).

As always we’ve taken a lot away from the conference, and are looking forward to the year ahead – (James and Bernard took away more than others when they made the top two times in the Dicker Data car racing game. James won an Xbox, and Bernard won an Xbox and a Surface Pro 3.)

This year we are looking forward to deploying some great solutions around Microsoft Azure. We’ve been doing a lot of testing internally and it’s an incredible platform with so many possibilities.

Speaking of platforms, Office 365 development is another big opportunity. Our SharePoint work has gone through the roof in the last couple of months and there is a lot more of it on the horizon.

SharePoint Online is a hugely underutilised aspect of Office 365, and it could be the most valuable business tool you’ll ever use. Keep an eye out for a few of our case studies in the next few weeks.