What Is VMware Horizon 8?

Desktops and Applications Delivered from Your Cloud

VMware Horizon 8 delivers virtualized Windows desktops and apps as well as Linux desktops to almost any endpoint device across a variety of form factors from vSphere-based datacenters. With clients available on Microsoft Windows, Apple macOS, Linux, many mobile devices, as well as web browsers, Horizon 8 empowers the enterprise by providing a familiar and secure computing environment for end users they can access anywhere, anytime.

With three deployment models, Horizon 8 offers administrators the flexibility to deploy desktop and application resources close to both their users as well as the corporate resources they require. At the same time, Horizon 8’s Instant Clone technology helps reduce the administrative burden of managing and maintaining environments of any scale.

This video introduces you to VMware Horizon and how it can help you maintain quick and secure access when you work remotely.

Key Features of VMware Horizon 8

Reduced Administrative Burden

VMware Horizon 8 offers time and cost-saving features in which security and ease of management are foundational.

VMware Horizon offers virtual desktop and application management and monitoring for on-prem, hybrid, and multi-cloud environments.

Streamlined image management - Managing virtual desktop and application images centrally reduces administrative effort and increases availability for end users.

Application management - VMware Horizon integrates seamlessly with VMware App Volumes, simplifying image management strategies and delivering packaged applications by packaging each app once and deploying it across multiple VMware Horizon environments, both on-premises and in the cloud. Image count, maintenance, and complexity of application packaging by managing applications separately from the image are some of the benefits offered by VMware App Volumes.

Efficient Resource Consumption - On cloud-based platforms, finding ways to consume resources efficiently has a direct impact on cost of ownership.  Idle desktops and apps still consume resources, which can quickly run costs out of control. With App Volumes App on Demand, applications are delivered just-in-time to desktops and RDS farms, ensuring that idle resource consumption is as minimal as possible.

This strategy also simplifies and turns RDS Farms more elastic and dynamic, which drives efficiency versus static deployments where resources are consumed irrespective.

Flexible Monitoring capability - For individual pods, VMware Horizon offers centralized monitoring capability through the VMware Horizon Admin Console for administrators and the Helpdesk Console for call center workers. The Horizon Control Plane services offer centralized analytics across multiple pods irrespective of their location. Workspace ONE Intelligence Integration offers customized reporting, orchestration, and remediation. VMware Horizon 8 Integrates seamlessly with the Horizon Cloud Service and Workspace ONE Intelligence, offering new, deeper monitoring levels.

Flexible hybrid and multi-cloud deployment options - VMware Horizon 8 can be deployed in private or public cloud scenarios. Examples of private clouds might be a private vSphere data center or VMware Cloud on Dell EMC. Examples of public vSphere-based cloud platforms include Azure VMware Solution (AVS), VMware Cloud on AWS, Google Cloud VMware Engine (GCVE), Oracle Cloud VMware solution (OCVS), and Alibaba Cloud VMware Service (ACVS)

Multi-OS support for the deployment of virtual desktops and hosted apps - With Instant Clone Technology, VMware Horizon offers rapid delivery of Microsoft Windows and Linux resources at scale across multiple data centers. Published Applications are supported on Microsoft Windows and Linux servers or Windows desktops.

Optimizing experience with unified communication and collaboration - Increased user experience and productivity with optimized audio and video support for Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Cisco WebEx, and other communication and collaboration tools. Session collaboration allows multiple users to view and modify the same desktop in real-time.

  • The VMware Blast Extreme Protocol is the primary display protocol for VMware Horizon 8.
  • The VMware Blast Extreme Protocol is a dynamic display protocol built by VMware to deliver an immersive, feature-rich experience for end users across devices, locations, media, and network connections.
  • Blast Extreme is included with VMware Horizon, the latest generation of VMware desktop virtualization and remote application-delivery software.

User-Specific Settings and Innovative Policy Options

VMware Dynamic Environment Manager offers a broad base of functionality to facilitate the user experience and maintain business continuity.

  • Based on the user’s role, device, or location. A Windows user might be offered user and computer-specific settings to ensure the user’s desktop offers everything in place they need to do their work.
  • All user-defined preferences are saved when a user logs off from a Desktop—allowing the user to continue exactly where they left off from a prior session.
  • In the context of the client’s device, place, or other conditions. Peripheral elements like drive mappings and printers can be presented to the user at logon or when a specific application is launched.
  • VMware Dynamic Environment also integrates with Workspace ONE Intelligence and the VMware Unified Access Gateway to facilitate risk scoring enforcement. For example. If a user’s Risk score changes from low to medium, blocking access to sensitive data and applications might be necessary.

A Familiar and Streamlined End User Experience

As enterprise data migrates to more and more locations in both private data centers and public clouds, Horizon 8 provides a consistent user experience across any location.

  • Streamlined access - The login process is simplified with Single-Sign-On. End users log in only once and get access to all the desktops and apps they need to do their jobs—no need to log in separately to each virtual desktop or app.
  • More Secure - Organizations no longer require the end user to authenticate using a Password form of authentication, allowing organizations to move forward with Zero Trust strategies that have, for example, in the United States of America (USA), been mandated to be effective by law.
  • Easy access from any device - The software client application —VMware Horizon Client— can be installed on  Microsoft Windows, Apple macOS or iOS, Linux Chromebook, or Android devices. End users can also use a web browser to connect with the same level of security and consistency.

Horizon Clients can be downloaded from my.vmware.com.
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  • Multi-OS support for the deployment of virtual desktops and hosted apps - VMware Horizon 8 allows rapid access to Microsoft Windows and Linux resources at scale across multiple Data centers. Application Publishing is supported for both Microsoft Windows and Linux platforms.
  • Improved user experience - After an end-user authenticates, the end user gets a smooth, consistent user experience with the entitled resources assigned to this individual. No matter what device they log in from, users see only what is assigned to them and nothing else. They have everything at their fingertips, including the virtual desktops and apps they need to do their job.
  • Optimized experience with unified communication and collaboration - VMware Horizon 8 has been developed to facilitate the User experience with optimized audio and video support for Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Cisco WebEx, and other communication and collaboration tools. Session collaboration allows multiple users to view and modify the same desktop in real-time.
  • High-definition, graphically intensive display options - End users that have immersive, feature-rich graphics requirements will get this experience with the Blast Extreme display protocol. The Blast display protocol allows the delivery of rich 2D and 3D graphics for high-fidelity displays. VMware Horizon 8 integrates with NVIDIA, Intel, and AMD high-end graphics hardware.

Horizon Experts Discuss Their Favorite Features

Watch this video to hear our Horizon Experts talk about the features they find the most useful, including simplifying device redirection, optimizing unified communications, providing seamless access to applications and easy access from any device, and deploying virtual desktops anywhere.

VMware Horizon 8 Architecture Overview

As a solution, Horizon 8 can be deployed on-premises or in vSphere-enabled cloud platforms, including VMware Cloud on AWS, Azure VMware Solution, Google Cloud VMware Engine, Oracle Cloud VMware Solution, and Alibaba Cloud VMware Service. Additional Centralized Monitoring and inspection benefits come to Horizon 8 environments by connecting to the Horizon Cloud Service. Simplified single sign-on benefits come with Workspace ONE Access. Deep end-user experience analytics, customized reporting, Orchestration, and Risk Scoring are offered using Workspace ONE Intelligence.

Key Architectural Components

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The VMware Horizon architecture is made up of the following components:

  • VMware Horizon 8 Admin Console - This web-based HTML Interface allows an administrator to configure, deploy, and manage published applications and desktops. Some examples of administrative functions include controlling user authentication, initiating and examining system and user events, delivering support to end users, and performing analytic activities. User entitlements can also be configured at a Global or local level.
  • VMware Horizon Client - The software client application allows end users to connect to their Horizon virtual desktop or published applications.
  • The VMware Horizon Client can be installed on Microsoft Windows, Apple macOS or iOS, Linux, Google Chromebook, or Android platforms. The VMware Horizon Client can be downloaded from my.vmware.com.
  • Alternatively, a web browser can also be used as a client.
  • VMware Horizon Cloud Service - The VMware Horizon Cloud Service – next-gen facilitates subscription-based licensing across all Horizon deployments regardless of the infrastructure used. Another service the Cloud Service offers VMware Horizon 8 Pods, is monitoring. More cloud-based services and features will be added over time.
  • VMware Unified Access Gateway - Provides secure remote access to VMware Horizon sessions for users outside the corporate network to access virtual desktops and published applications without a VPN. For more information, see Unified Access Gateway Architecture.  VMware now supports the federation of Edge services like the VMware Unified Access Gateway with Workspace ONE Access back-channel and front channel services. For more information, see Enabling SAML 2.0 Authentication for Horizon with Unified Access Gateway and Horizon.
  • Horizon 8 Connection Servers - The function of the Connection Server is an Authenticator, Broker. It hosts the admin user interface and orchestrates vSphere-based infrastructure.
  • Horizon 8 Enrollment services - Horizon Enrollment services are required to facilitate a seamless single sign-on user authentication experience for end users called True SSO.
  • The Horizon Edge Gateway Appliance - A virtual appliance that connects a Horizon 8 pod with Horizon Cloud Service – next-gen services. Individual Horizon Edge Gateway connects Horizon pods to the Horizon Cloud Service - next-gen. Horizon 8 uses the Horizon Edge Gateway to manage subscription-based licensing, bundled as the Horizon Universal License or Horizon Plus License. Using these licenses entitles customers to use the features of the Horizon Cloud Service.
  • VMware Horizon Agent - Allows the virtual machine (VM) to be managed by VMware Horizon Connection Servers and allows a VMware Horizon Client to form a protocol session to the VM. VMs can be virtual desktops, Remote Desktop Session Hosts (RDS Hosts), physical desktops, or PCs.
  • VMware Workspace ONE Access and VMware Intelligent Hub - Using Workspace ONE Access is optional to the client. End users can authenticate using password-based authentication directly to the Horizon Cloud Service.
  • Workspace ONE Access is included with VMware Horizon licensing. As an Access management solution, VMware Workspace ONE Access offers world-class patented certificate-based single sign-on solutions for Android, Apple iOS, macOS, and Microsoft Windows.
  • VMware Intelligent Hub Services offers a customizable client called VMware Intelligent Hub. VMware Intelligent Hub Services facilitates a Unified App Catalog that can be natively installed on Android, Apple IOS, macOS, and Microsoft Windows. VMware Intelligent Hub can also be opened using a web browser.
  • RDSH servers - Remote Desktop Session Host (RDSH) server farms offer end users published applications and session-based remote desktops.
  • The published application can be installed natively on the RDSH server or delivered to the farm using VMware App Volumes.
  • Leverage App Volumes to create application packages that can be mounted each time the user logs in to a desktop, at machine startup, or on-demand.
  • Applications packaged with VMware ThinApp to facilitate and enhance Application Life cycle management for RDSH server Farms.
  • When deploying Applications on RDSH Servers, VMware ThinApp can be deployed natively or delivered using VMware App Volumes.
  • VMware vSphere - VMware vSphere is the infrastructure platform Horizon 8 leverages to provide virtual machines and applications to end-users. It offers a world-leading hypervisor and administrative console to manage and monitor virtual machines. Horizon 8 supports on-premises deployments as well as VMware Cloud public infrastructure.


VMware Horizon 8 is a software solution that gives any remote worker access to a desktop, physical or virtual, and published applications. Access is simple and secure. Workers can access the application or desktop regardless of whether the application is Linux or Windows-based. The remote worker will connect to their published applications or desktop using the VMware Horizon Client from their platform of choice. This might be anything Apple, Linux, or Microsoft Windows-based.

The Horizon Client (installed on the endpoint) and the Horizon agent (installed on the desktop or published application host) offer rich customizable features to enhance integration with peripherals to facilitate an Office worker experience.    

VMware Horizon 8 integrates with VMware Workspace ONE Access, UEM, and Intelligence to support organizations with Zero Trust requirements and move away from password-based authentication to more secure certificate-based forms of authentication.

Find out more

 One of the fastest ways to learn about Horizon is to check out the VMware Horizon 8 product page on Tech Zone.

You’ll also find a wealth of Horizon-related information on Tech Zone and VMware Docs, including:

Learn more about other VMware projects

If you are interested in other VMware projects, see the following introductions:

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