Microsoft Announces the Possibility of Windows 365 Cloud PCs

Microsoft is putting Windows in the cloud. Windows 365 is a new service that will allow businesses to access cloud PCs from anywhere by streaming a version of Windows 10 or Windows 11 in a web browser. While virtualization and remote access to PCs has been around for more than a decade, Microsoft is banking on Windows 365 to offer cloud PCs for businesses as they shift to a mix of office and remote work.

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Windows 365 will work in any modern browser or through Microsoft's Remote Desktop app, allowing users to access their cloud PC from a variety of devices. “Windows 365 provides an instant startup experience,” according to Wangui McKelvey, general manager of Microsoft 365. This instant access allows employees to stream their Windows sessions with all the same apps, tools, data and settings on Macs, iPads, Linux machines and Android devices. “You can pick up where you left off, because the state of your cloud PC remains the same, even when you switch devices,” explains McKelvey.

Windows 365 will only be available to businesses when it launches on Aug. 2, with a monthly subscription cost per user. Microsoft isn't detailing exact pricing until the service launches next month, but Windows 365 is designed for individual businesses to businesses with thousands of employees.

There will be two editions of Windows 365: Business and Enterprise. Both are powered by Azure Virtual Desktop and individual cloud PCs can be configured with a single CPU, 2GB of RAM and 64GB of storage at the lower end, up to eight CPUs, 32GB of RAM and 512GB of storage. Microsoft is offering 12 different configurations for Windows 365 Business and Enterprise, and companies will be able to scale the processing power, so there will be many options to choose from.

Technically, Microsoft's offering of Windows in the cloud isn't all that different from the myriad of options companies can already choose with virtualization now. Microsoft has offered similar technology with Azure Virtual Desktop, and Citrix has been offering cloud-hosted desktops for years. Microsoft is trying to differentiate is ease of use and management. “Windows 365 will really make a big difference for organizations that wanted to try virtualization for a variety of reasons but couldn't – maybe it was too expensive, too complex, or they didn't have the in-house expertise to do it,” says McKelvey.

Companies will be able to create cloud PCs in minutes and assign them to employees, avoiding the need for dedicated physical hardware. This can be attractive to many companies that hire remote workers or even outsourced workers who need to securely access a corporate network. Since their entire Windows PC is in the cloud, employees don't need to browse VPNs or worry about the security of personal devices.

While Windows 365 seems perfectly designed for companies looking to deal with the complexities of telecommuting, Microsoft has been working on the service for years. Microsoft's operating systems group was working on a project code-named “Arcadia,” a service to stream video games from the cloud. Arcadia dates back to Microsoft, demonstrating Halo running on a Windows Phone in 2013 . That initial virtualization work eventually led to Windows 365 and a focus on making it consumer-friendly.

“When we built this team, we brought in some leaders with experience with virtualization, but most of the time we brought in people who had experience with Windows and experience with consumer experiences, because that was the standard we wanted to set,” says Scott Manchester, director of Windows 365 program management.

The pandemic has accelerated work on Windows 365 and Microsoft's broader focus on hybrid work. Microsoft has been constantly improving Microsoft Teams over the past year and charting its vision for the future of meetings, teleworking, and more.

Source: The Verge

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Felipe Santos
Felipe Santos is a Cloud and Security Architect, with experience in Windows Server, Cluster, Storages, Backups Veeam and Office 365 environments.
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