What Contributes to the User Experience of a Virtual Desktop

When organizations move from a traditional PC solution to a virtual desktop solution, it is pertinent to ensure that user experience closely matches that of a physical PC.

Although, the user experience might be subjective and not be consistent amongst a group. Nonetheless, there are specific performance metrics that IT administrators deploy to contribute to better user experience with a virtual desktop.

First, a traditional PC has specific hardware, integrated Graphical Processing Unit (GPU), and minimal end-user latency that allows it to perform tasks excellently. A virtual desktop has no dedicated GPU, hardware resources, and graphical quality. Therefore, delivery becomes a critical task.

In a virtual desktop setup, user experience is down to many factors. To measure the quality of delivery, we can quantify the performance using some metrics. One is the end-user latency, which is the time taken for an action to be translated on the screen. The extent of the lag is the first measure of how optimally a virtual desktop is operating.

Image quality, as dictated by the remote display protocol, also affects the virtual desktop user experience. The difference in the quality of “how the image appears” and “how it’s supposed to appear” can quantify the user-friendliness. Likewise, compared to a traditional PC, log on delay time, bandwidth, remote frames, and session response time are other suitable measures of how well a virtual desktop performs.

Contributive Factors to The Virtual Desktop Performance

To ensure great user experience, we optimize each of the metrics noted above and keep them in standard measures. Thus, knowing the factors that contribute to the user experience of a virtual desktop is critical to exploit its full potential and increase overall productivity.

The significant factors that contribute to the virtual desktop experience are:

  • the host specifications
  • the quality of network architecture
  • the remote display protocol in use

As we know, the virtual desktop is running on client devices that perform display and network protocol initializing functions. The virtual desktop performance is not solely dependent on client device specifications only. First, it depends more on the quality served over the network to them from the host terminal.

The host specifications should be such that it can handle the graphical needs, processor requirements, and storage. It needs to cater to each virtual machine it will serve. It must be configured and managed to deliver unparalleled user experience in all the extended virtual desktops.

Another important factor contributing to the user experience is the network architecture. The end-user latency and quality of delivery of the virtual desktop resources depend on the strength of the network itself. The available bandwidth, average latency, and packet loss of the transport network affect the quality of the virtual desktop experience. The whole virtual desktop operation depends on the web. A bridge in the system can easily cause a one-down-all-down scenario. Thus, building a network architecture with high resilience, enough bandwidth, and rich media support is especially important.

The performance and delivery of the host terminal through the select network architecture still depend on the remote display protocol in use. The remote display protocol is the bridge over the network between the host and remote clients. This protocol uses some data transfer rules to deliver information to the user. The overall user experience is decided by the display transfer protocol used.

Remote Display Protocol Options

IT administrators are open to a variety of remote display protocol options. The Microsoft RDP, VMware PCoIP, Citrix HDX, and vCloudPoint DDP are the standard options.


For instance, in delivering rich media such as Voice over IP, video and bi-directional interactive video applications, Microsoft RDP and Citrix ICA are not optimized for rich media support. However, the vCloudPoint innovative Dynamic Desktop Protocol (DDP) designed explicitly for its vCloudPoint Zero clients is built to scale media quality issues.

The Citrix HDX has intelligent USB redirection at the native USB speed. The deduplication of network traffic allows it to support the multicasting of multimedia streams. Together with the adaptive compression ability, the multicasting helps to determine the intelligent utilization of the CPU and GPU resources.

The VMware PCoIP is also beneficial when the bandwidth is high, and latency is low. Because it uses the User Datagram Protocol (UDP) instead of the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) used by Microsoft RDP and Citrix ICA, it can deliver a nearly native virtual desktop experience. It is faster as it does not have to wait for the endpoint to confirm receipt of the data packet as-in TCP.


Ultimately, the remote display protocol choice is up to the IT personnel rather than their features.

However, choosing the right display protocol, network architecture, and suitable host terminal specifications determine the delivery of the virtual desktop performance and, ultimately, the user experience.

If you would like to know more about the subject, vCloudPoint is a professional provider, which may help you suggesting new smart sharing computing solutions to improve your business productivity.

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