Microsoft finally announced its rumored Cloud PC service at the 2021 edition of its annual partner conference, Microsoft Inspire.
Windows 365 allows streaming Windows 10 or Windows 11 (when it’s available), including apps, data, and settings, as a cloud service. It takes the operating system to the Microsoft Cloud, securely streaming the full Windows experience to your personal or corporate devices.
Microsoft calls this thin client implementation as Cloud PC, which uses both the power of the cloud and the capabilities of the device to provide a full Windows experience. This new hybrid personal computing category is well timed considering the accelerated digital transformation of businesses across the world post the pandemic and evolving hybrid workplaces.
Windows 365 allows organizations to empower distributed workforces, temporary and seasonal employees, and workers with a need for specialized workloads in a flexible and secure manner - regardless of their location or device. It also allows organizations to ramp on and off according to the needs of the business allowing them to scale for busy periods without the logistical challenges of issuing new hardware. Organizations will be able to choose the size of the Cloud PC that best meets their needs with a per user per month pricing.
Windows 365 Features
Microsoft insists that this new paradigm isn’t just about allowing and securing remote access but alleviating user experience and improving productivity. Windows 365 is built on Azure Virtual Desktop and it essentially simplifies the virtualization experience. Of course, large enterprises which require greater customization and flexibility would rather opt for Azure Virtual Desktop to modernize their VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) in the cloud.
Windows 365 offers a consistent Windows experience, no matter the device/operating system – Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, or Android. It supports business apps like Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365, Power Platform, line of business apps, and more as well as the Office suite.
It provides an instant-on boot experience that enables users to stream all their personalized applications, tools, data, and settings from the cloud across any device and allow them to pick up right where they left off. The state of a user’s Cloud PC remains the same, even when they switch devices.
While small businesses can use a simple, self-service model to procure Cloud PCs for their organizations, enterprise IT can use Microsoft Endpoint Manager to procure, deploy, and manage Cloud PCs for their organization. Windows 365 is consistent with how IT manages physical devices right now. The Cloud PCs will show up right alongside physical devices in Microsoft Endpoint Manager, and the IT team can apply management and security policies to them just as it's done on all other devices.
IT can also scale processing power and monitor the performance of the Cloud PC to make sure the users are getting the best experience. There’s also built-in analytics to look at connection health across network to make sure the Cloud PC users can reach everything they need.
Windows 365 is built with a focus on a Zero Trust architecture. It stores information in the cloud, not on the device, and encryption is used across the board. All managed disks running Cloud PCs are encrypted, all stored data is encrypted at rest, and all network traffic to and from the Cloud PCs is also encrypted.
Windows 365 will be generally available on August 2, 2021 to organizations of all sizes. Organizations will have two edition options - Windows 365 Business and Windows 365 Enterprise - with multiple Cloud PC configurations based on performance needs.