Tutorial: Create service principals and role assignments with PowerShell

Service principals are identities you can create in Azure Active Directory to assign roles and permissions for a specific purpose. In Windows Virtual Desktop Preview, you can create a service principal to:

  • Automate specific Windows Virtual Desktop management tasks
  • Use as credentials in place of MFA-required users when running any Windows Virtual Desktop Azure Resource Manager template

In this tutorial, learn how to:

  • Create a service principal in Azure Active Directory
  • Create a role assignment in Windows Virtual Desktop
  • Sign in to Windows Virtual Desktop with the service principal


Before you can create service principals and role assignments, you’ll need to do three things:

  1. Install the AzureAD module. To install the module, run PowerShell as an administrator and run the following cmdlet:

    Install-Module AzureAD
  2. Run the following cmdlets with the values in quotes replaced by the values relevant to your session.

    $myTenantName = "<my-tenant-name>"
  3. Follow all instructions in this article in the same PowerShell session. It might not work if you close the window and return to it later.

Create a service principal in Azure Active Directory

Once you’ve fulfilled the prerequisites in your PowerShell session, run the following PowerShell cmdlets to create a multi-tenant service principal in Azure.

Import-Module AzureAD
$aadContext = Connect-AzureAD
$svcPrincipal = New-AzureADApplication -AvailableToOtherTenants $true -DisplayName "Windows Virtual Desktop Svc Principal"
$svcPrincipalCreds = New-AzureADApplicationPasswordCredential -ObjectId $svcPrincipal.ObjectId

Create a role assignment in Windows Virtual Desktop Preview

Now that you’ve created a service principal, you can use it to sign in to Windows Virtual Desktop. Make sure to sign in with an account that has permissions to create the role assignment.

First, download and import the Windows Virtual Desktop PowerShell module to use in your PowerShell session if you haven't already.

Run the following PowerShell cmdlets to connect to Windows Virtual Desktop and create a role assignment for the service principal.

Add-RdsAccount -DeploymentUrl "https://rdbroker.wvd.microsoft.com"
New-RdsRoleAssignment -RoleDefinitionName "RDS Owner" -ApplicationId $svcPrincipal.AppId -TenantName $myTenantName

Sign in with the service principal

After creating a role assignment for the service principal, you should now make sure the service principal can sign in to Windows Virtual Desktop by running the following cmdlet:

$creds = New-Object System.Management.Automation.PSCredential($svcPrincipal.AppId, (ConvertTo-SecureString $svcPrincipalCreds.Value -AsPlainText -Force))
Add-RdsAccount -DeploymentUrl "https://rdbroker.wvd.microsoft.com" -Credential $creds -ServicePrincipal -AadTenantId $aadContext.TenantId.Guid

Once you've signed in, make sure everything works by testing out a few Windows Virtual Desktop PowerShell cmdlets with the service principal.

View your credentials in PowerShell

Before you end your PowerShell session, you should view your credentials and write them down for future reference. The password is especially important because you won’t be able to retrieve it once you close this PowerShell session.

Here are the three credentials you should write down and the cmdlets you need to run to get them:

  • Password:

  • Tenant ID:

  • Application ID:


Next steps

Once you've created the service principal and assigned it a role in your Windows Virtual Desktop tenant, you can use it to create a host pool. To learn more about host pools, continue to the tutorial for creating a host pool in Windows Virtual Desktop.