Create your first Windows virtual machine in the Azure portal

This tutorial shows you how easy it is to create a Windows virtual machine (VM) in just a few minutes, by using the Azure portal.

If you don't have an Azure subscription, create a free account before you begin.

Choose the VM image from the marketplace

We use a Windows Server 2016 Datacenter image as an example, but that's just one of the many images Azure offers. Your image choices depend on your subscription. For example, some desktop images are available to MSDN subscribers.

  1. Sign in to the Azure portal.
  2. Starting in the upper-left, click New > Compute > Windows Server 2016 Datacenter.

    Screenshot that shows the Azure VM images available in the portal

  3. On the Windows Server 2016 Datacenter blade, in Select a deployment model, verify that Resource Manager is selected. Click Create.

    Screenshot that shows the deployment model to select for the VM

Create the Windows virtual machine

After you select the image, you can use the default settings and quickly create the virtual machine.

  1. On the Basics blade, enter a Name for the virtual machine. In this example, HeroVM is the name of the virtual machine. The name must be 1-15 characters long and it cannot contain special characters.
  2. Enter a User name, and a strong Password that will be used to create a local account on the VM. The local account is used to sign in to and manage the VM. In this example, azureuser is the user name.

    The password must be 8-123 characters long and meet three out of the four following complexity requirements: one lower case character, one upper case character, one number, and one special character. See more about username and password requirements.

  3. Select an existing Resource group or type the name for a new one. In this example, HeroVMRG is the name of the resource group.

  4. Select an Azure datacenter Location. In this example, East US* is the location.

  5. When you are done, click OK to continue to the next section.

    Screenshot that shows the settings on the **Basics** blade for configuring an Azure VM

  6. Choose a VM size, and then click Select to continue. In this example, DS1_V2 Standard is the VM size.

    Screenshot of the Size blade that shows the Azure VM sizes that you can select

  7. On the Settings blade, you can change the storage and network options. For this tutorial, accept the default settings. If you selected a virtual machine size that supports it, you can try Azure Premium Storage by selecting Premium (SSD) in Disk type. When you're done making changes, click OK.

    Screenshot of the Settings blade where you can configure optional features for an Azure VM

  8. Click Summary to review your choices. When you see the Validation passed message, click OK.

    Screenshot of the Summary page that shows the configuration choices made for the Azure VM

  9. While Azure creates the virtual machine, you can track the progress by clicking on Virtual Machines on left. When the VM has been created, the status will change to Running.

Connect to the virtual machine and sign on

  1. On the left, click Virtual Machines.
  2. Select the virtual machine from the list.
  3. On the blade for the virtual machine, click Connect. This creates and downloads a Remote Desktop Protocol file (.rdp file) that is like a shortcut to connect to your machine. You might want to save the file to your desktop for easy access. Open this file to connect to your VM.

    Screenshot of the Azure portal showing how to connect to your VM

  4. You get a warning that the .rdp is from an unknown publisher. This is normal. In the Remote Desktop window, click Connect to continue.

    Screenshot of a warning about an unknown publisher

  5. In the Windows Security window, type the username and password for the local account that you created when you created the VM. The username is entered as vmname\username, then click OK.

    Screenshot of entering the VM name, user name and password

  6. You get a warning that the certificate cannot be verified. This is normal. Click Yes to verify the identity of the virtual machine and finish logging on.

    Screenshot showing a message abut verifying the identity of the VM

If you run in to trouble when you try to connect, see Troubleshoot Remote Desktop connections to a Windows-based Azure Virtual Machine.

You can now work with the virtual machine as you would with any other server.

Optional: Stop the VM

It is a good idea to stop the VM so you don't incur charges when you aren't actually using it. Just click Stop and then click Yes.

Screenshot showing the button to stop a VM

Click the Start button to restart the VM when you're ready to use it again.

Next steps