What are the differences between working with custom images and BYOL images in WorkSpaces?

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I need to know the differences between working with custom images and BYOL images in Amazon WorkSpaces for Windows. I also need to know the BYOL setup requirements.


Standard Amazon WorkSpaces for Windows are based on Windows Server 2016 or 2019 with Desktop Experience. At the kernel level, a Windows Server operating system and a Windows 10 operating system are similar. Yet, you might need a desktop operating system to perform certain tasks. This is when you want to consider bringing your own Windows desktop license, also known as BYOL. BYOL WorkSpaces are available only for Windows.

BYOL WorkSpaces image management

BYOL WorkSpaces require dedicated resources for the underlying infrastructure to meet licensing requirements. The images created from template WorkSpaces aren't much different than custom images created with Amazon-provided resources and BYOL images.

BYOL images do have a few limitations:

  • You can copy BYOL image to another AWS Region as long as the destination Region is turned on for BYOL.
  • You can share BYOL images with AWS accounts that are turned on for BYOL and are part of your organization with AWS Organizations.
  • You can't launch a BYOL WorkSpace to a directory that doesn’t have BYOL turned on.

Setting up BYOL environments

A BYOL WorkSpace environment must meet several requirements to be successful. The following is a short list of those BYOL requirements:

Infrastructure requirements:

  • Your Microsoft licensing agreement must allow Windows to run in a virtual hosted environment.
  • You must commit to running a minimum of 100 WorkSpaces that are non-GPU-enabled, 4 always-on GPU-enabled, or 20 auto-stop GPU-enabled.
  • Your network must not overlap with the management network IP ranges.
  • You need to allow documented management interface port traffic.

AWS service requirements:

  • You must have your AWS account turned on for BYOL.
  • You must have a directory service associated with WorkSpaces and BYOL.

VM import and operating system configuration:

  • You must have a virtual machine (VM) that runs a supported 64-bit version of Windows and is included in supported operating system versions.
  • You must import your VM to create an AMI for your BYOL WorkSpace.
  • Your VM must meet operating system configuration requirements and only includes software that’s a part of a typical Windows installation.
  • Your key management server must be accessible from WorkSpaces over the customer network.

In comparison, for standard WorkSpaces, the requirements general list is shorter:

  • Your network must not overlap with the management network IP ranges.
  • You must allow documented management interface port traffic.
  • You must have directory service associated with WorkSpaces.

Related information

Copy a custom WorkSpaces image

Share or unshare a custom WorkSpaces image

Bring Your Own Windows desktop licenses

Management interface ports

AWS OFFICIALUpdated a year ago