Windows 11 comes to AWS EC2 as a VM import option

UEFI is sorted, but BYO licenses are required


Amazon Web Services has found a way to let its customers run Windows 11 in its Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2).

As disclosed in a blog post, the AWS VM Import/Export service has been tweaked to allow movement of Windows 11 VMs.

Once you’ve uploaded a Windows 11 VM to EC2, AWS states you can “launch instances using the imported images on EC2 Dedicated Hosts, and EC2 Dedicated Instances.”

The Register rummaged around in the EC2 Amazon Machine Image library of ready-to-deploy VMs and was not able to find another Windows 11 offering. Nor does AWS support Windows 11 in its WorkSpaces desktop-as-a-service offering.

Yet AWS VM Import/Export makes it possible to bring Microsoft’s latest desktop OS to EC2. It's probably also possible to do so by running DaaS-ware from the likes of Citrix or VMware – albeit with rather more complexity and abstraction.

AWS senior technical account manager Andrew Riley explained that importing Windows 11 VMs to EC2 requires an OVA, VHD/X, VMDK or XVA file, plus one of Microsoft's E3 or E5 licenses covering Windows 11. S3 storage for the AMI is also a must.

To run the VM in EC2, boot mode must be set to UEFI by default, because Windows 11 requires UEFI-enabled hardware.

The uploaded VM will appear in AWS users' lists of custom AMIs and can be applied to their choice of Amazonian hardware. AWS's blog depicts a Windows 11 AMI being deployed on a C-series instance, which may be fanciful as they're powered by AMD Epycs and suggested for compute-intensive workloads. Maybe a Windows 11 workstation needs the Xeon-powered grunt of the C-series?

Adding Windows 11 to AWS's VM Import/Export tool makes EC2 in some ways a better option than WorkSpaces, which uses the Windows 10 GUI atop Windows Server 2019.

But WorkSpaces has done a little catching up of its own. Today AWS announced integration with Security Assertion Markup Language 2.0 (SAML 2.0).

"With SAML 2.0 authentication, your end users can access their WorkSpaces desktops by authenticating to your identity provider (IdP) using their default web browser," Amazon's announcement explains. "The feature enables a consistent and familiar experience for end users who already authenticate to your IdP to access other enterprise applications in addition to WorkSpaces. SAML 2.0 authentication allows you to extend security features available from your IdP to WorkSpaces, including multi-factor authentication (MFA) and contextual access." ®

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