Amazon WorkSpaces offers you an easy way to provide a managed, cloud-based desktop experience to your end-users. You don’t have to worry about procuring or deploying hardware or installing complex software to deliver a desktop experience to your users. Amazon WorkSpaces takes care of all the heavy lifting of managing hardware and software, and tasks such as patching and maintenance, enabling you to deliver a high quality desktop experience to your users.

Whether you are managing traditional desktops or an on-premises solution for virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) such as Windows Remote Desktop, both of these approaches require significant capital investment and are often complex and difficult to deploy and manage. Using a cloud-based desktop environment eliminates the need for up-front investment and ongoing management of infrastructure, providing you with an easy, cost-effective way to bring a secure and broadly accessible desktop experience to your users. For a low monthly fee, Amazon WorkSpaces provides a complete cloud-based desktop computing service including compute, persistent storage, and applications. Your users get a better experience than a traditional desktop with more functionality, such as the ability to access their applications and data from a device of their choice. You get a simpler way to provision desktops for users for half the cost of an on-premises VDI solution. Please see our TCO Comparison: Amazon WorkSpaces and traditional Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) blog post for more information on cost comparison.

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You simply select from a choice of WorkSpaces bundles that offer different hardware and software options, and launch the number of WorkSpaces that you require. As soon as the WorkSpaces are ready, users receive an email giving them instructions on how to download the WorkSpaces client and connect to their WorkSpace. Amazon WorkSpaces provides users a persistent desktop experience that can be accessed from a variety of devices such as a laptop computer (Mac OS or Windows), iPad, Kindle Fire, or Android tablet. The user’s applications and data stay the same regardless of which device they use, so they can easily switch between devices without losing their work.

Amazon WorkSpaces provides you with the choice of creating a standalone, managed directory for users who will use WorkSpaces, or you can integrate with your on-premises Active Directory so that your users can use their existing credentials to obtain seamless access to corporate resources. This integration works via a secure hardware VPN connection to your on-premises network using Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) or with AWS Direct Connect. You can manage your Amazon WorkSpaces with the existing tools you are using for your on-premises desktops to maintain full administrative control.

Amazon WorkSpaces offers a choice of service bundles providing different hardware and software options to meet your needs. You can choose from the Standard or Performance family of bundles that offer different CPU, memory, and storage resources, based on the requirements of your users. If you would like to launch WorkSpaces with more software already pre-installed (e.g., Microsoft Office, Trend Micro Anti-Virus, etc.), you should choose the Value Plus, Standard Plus or Performance Plus options. If you don’t need the applications offered in those bundles or you would like to use software licenses for some of the applications in the Plus options that you’ve already paid for, we recommend the Value, Standard or Performance bundles. Whichever option you choose, you can create a custom image from that WorkSpace to create your own bundle. 

WorkSpaces Bundle Hardware Resources
Value 1 vCPU, 2GiB Memory, 10GB Storage
Standard 2 vCPU, 4GiB Memory, 50 GB User Storage
Performance 2 vCPU, 7.5 GiB Memory, 100 GB User Storage
WorkSpaces Bundle Applications
Utilities (Internet Explorer 11, Firefox, 7-Zip)
Value Plus,
Standard Plus,
Performance Plus
Microsoft Office Professional*, Trend Micro Worry-Free Business Security Services, Utilities (Internet Explorer 11, Firefox, WinZip)

*For the Plus bundles, you will have the option to select either Microsoft Office Professional 2010 or Microsoft Office Professional 2013 when you select the software. Microsoft Office Professional includes Microsoft Excel, Microsoft OneNote, Microsoft PowerPoint, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Publisher and Microsoft Access.

All WorkSpaces Bundles provide the Windows 7 Experience to users (provided by Windows Server 2008 R2 with RDS).

These choices enable you to select the right mix of hardware resources for different groups of users in your organization and provide users the applications they need installed in their WorkSpace. You can also install any other software that you already own licenses for in your WorkSpaces at any time.

Provisioning desktops with Amazon WorkSpaces is easy. All you need to do is to choose the WorkSpaces bundle that best meets the needs of your users and the number of WorkSpaces that you would like to launch. Whether you choose to launch one or many WorkSpaces, it’s as simple as selecting the appropriate bundle and the user(s) that you wish to provide with a WorkSpace. Once the WorkSpaces are ready, users receive an email informing them where they can download the relevant client and connect to their WorkSpace. There is no up-front commitment with Amazon WorkSpaces; you simply pay a monthly charge for each WorkSpace that you launch. And, when you’re finished with a WorkSpace, you can easily delete it.

Amazon WorkSpaces enables you to deliver a high quality desktop experience to your end-users as well as help meet compliance and security policy requirements. When users are using Amazon WorkSpaces, your organization’s data is not sent to or stored on end-user devices. The PCoIP protocol used by WorkSpaces uses an interactive video stream to provide the desktop experience to the user while the data remains in the AWS cloud or in your on-premises environment. When you integrate WorkSpaces with your corporate Active Directory, each WorkSpace joins your Active Directory domain, and can be managed just like any other desktop in your organization. This means that you can use Active Directory Group Policies to manage your users’ WorkSpaces to specify configuration options that control the desktop, including those that restrict users’ abilities to use local storage on their devices. This means you can specify a policy to prevent your data from being copied onto local device storage. WorkSpaces also integrates with your existing RADIUS server to enable multi-factor authentication (MFA).

Amazon WorkSpaces lets you integrate with your organization’s Active Directory so that your end users can continue to use their existing credentials to access corporate resources. Once you have configured an Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) with a hardware VPN connection to your on-premises environment, or provisioned a dedicated connection with AWS Direct Connect, Amazon WorkSpaces lets you easily integrate your Active Directory. Once you have set-up this integration, when you launch a WorkSpace, you can use the AWS Management Console to select the users in your Active Directory who will receive a WorkSpace. This integration also means that the WorkSpaces you launch will join your Active Directory so that you can manage them with the same tools that you use to manage any other desktop in your organization, with full administrative control. You can perform various tasks such as deploying software, applying Group Policies or other management tasks just as you would with any other desktop in your Active Directory domain. You can learn more about this feature in the WorkSpaces documentation.

Amazon WorkSpaces provides each user with access to varying amounts of persistent storage in the AWS cloud based on the bundle you select. In addition to being able to store user data on a 'user' storage volume attached to the WorkSpace, the free Amazon WorkDocs Sync client lets WorkSpaces users choose a folder to sync between their WorkSpace, Amazon WorkDocs, and other computers. This means that users always have access to their data regardless of the device that they are using. Data synced to Amazon WorkDocs is encrypted in transit and at rest. Other data that users store on the 'user' volume attached to the WorkSpace is automatically backed up to Amazon S3 on a regular basis. Amazon S3 is designed for 99.999999999% durability of objects, providing you with peace of mind about your users’ data.

Amazon WorkSpaces clients are available for both Windows and Mac computers, for iPad, Kindle Fire, and Android tablets, as well as for zero clients. When WorkSpaces are provisioned for users, they will get an email containing details on how they can download the clients. The WorkSpaces PC or Mac client provides users with full access to their desktop and includes support for multiple monitors, audio, and video.

The WorkSpaces clients for iPad, Kindle Fire, and Android tablets have a number of features designed to provide users with a tablet-optimized desktop experience. Users can show or hide an on-screen keyboard by double-tapping on the screen with two fingers. The client provides a touch-based mouse interface so that interacting with desktop applications is as easy as using a traditional mouse. Single and double clicking requires a simple tap or double tap, or a two fingered tap for a right click. Users can scroll vertically using a two-fingered touch and pinch to zoom. A slide-out radial control can be accessed by a thumb swipe from the left of the screen and gives users access to a variety of commands. With a Kindle Fire, or Android tablet, users can connect a keyboard or touch pad to have a laptop experience with their tablet WorkSpace.

To provide users with a secure, high quality experience, Amazon WorkSpaces incorporates PCoIP technology from Teradici. The PCoIP remoting protocol is used between users’ devices and their WorkSpaces. The PCoIP protocol compresses, encrypts, and encodes the users’ desktop computing experience and transmits ‘pixels only’ across any standard IP network to users’ stateless zero clients, PCs, laptops and mobile devices.

For a complete list of zero clients that are compatible with Amazon WorkSpaces please visit the device finder here. (hosted by Teradici)

Your data never leaves your data center or the AWS cloud. The PCoIP protocol enables support for high resolution, full frame rate graphics and HD media, multiple large displays, and high definition audio, all connected over the corporate network or Internet.