Microsoft has launched Windows 365 Cloud PC, a direct-to-market virtual desktop platform.
Windows 365 Cloud PC enables people to access their desktop from anywhere via a browser. Microsoft’s new Windows 365 Cloud PC is a new service that puts Windows in the cloud and enables people and businesses to access their PC from anywhere.
So windows Windows 365 Cloud PC is essentially your normal PC but in a cloud environment. You can securely stream your individual Windows experience, including your desktop, apps, settings and content, at any time to any device. Supposedly, for IT Departments, it can be fully managed and is easy to assign and configure Cloud PCs using familiar Microsoft 365 tools such as Microsoft Endpoint Manager.
Given the past 18 months and the need to work remotely and securely from home, there has been a huge demand for cloud based solutions. Scott Manchester, Partner Director of PM for Windows 365, says, “Windows 365 modernises the way Windows experiences are delivered for anyone on any device. It’s a premium experience for both end users and IT. It’s easy to use and just as easy for IT to manage using familiar tools and processes”.
According to Microsoft, Windows 365 Cloud PC is specifically designed to meet the growing demands of hybrid working and to enable employees to split their time between the office and their homes.
The new cloud platform will let users access their Windows 10 (and eventually Windows 11) devices, including their data, apps and settings, from either a personal or business device or a phone, reducing the need to commute with their laptops or tablets.
Windows 365 Cloud PC is designed to provide a complete day-to-day experience through a web browser or a native app that is compatible on any device that has an active internet connection. Users can use Windows 365 Cloud PC from a Windows PC, Apple Mac, iPad or any mobile device with a browser and Microsoft is also working with hardware manufacturers to enable Windows 365 Cloud PCs to be run on dedicated devices. Something that has been a dream for many years for Microsoft, a fully cloud PC natively integrated into hardware.
Microsoft already has a virtualisation product that is used by organisations to allow employees access to cloud-based Windows computers. It was formally known as Windows Virtual Desktop, but has been recently renamed to Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD).
Microsoft says the difference between the two services is that Windows 365 Cloud PC is designed for organisations without dedicated IT staff. The Windows 365 Cloud PC service does rely technically on Azure Virtual Desktop and its infrastructure but reduces complexity for administrators and offers much more control by requiring fewer technical skills and resources. Azure Virtual Desktop on the other hand requires a very much hands-on technical approach to the setup, configuration and management of virtual destops within the AVD environment.
According to Microsoft, Windows 365 Cloud PC is going to make a big difference to organisations that want to dip their toes into desktop virtualisation where before it was either too expensive, too technically complicated or simply there were insufficient IT expertise in house to launch. With Windows 365 admins will be able to manage Cloud PCs using the same tools they use to manage physical PCs.
Windows 365 Cloud PC will be generally available to businesses from 2nd August 2021 although Microsoft hasn’t revealed pricing details commercially yet. But some reports indicate that it will be available for a monthly subscription per user per month and very much dependent on the requirement options companies choose for storage, processing power and memory. So essentially exactly the same as the Azure Infrastructure model.
So, we have looked into Windows 365 Cloud PC and there are quite a few drawbacks. First, companies will have to use Microsoft 365 E3 (this is not Microsoft Office 365 E3) which is almost double the cost of Office 365 E3 because it rolls in device/app management, identity access, threat and information protection, security and compliance management. All required enterprise components to keep Windows 365 Cloud PC secure. But they are very expensive.
Admins will have to use Mover, the 2019 acquired cloud files migration tool to move all existing local and cloud desktop environment data to Windows 365 Cloud PC. The problem is, it’s clunky, difficult to use and the migration success rate is poor, unlike other industry leading migration tools such as BitTitan’s MigrationWiz. Our Support Team at Amazing Support only use MigrationWiz for all migration of local and cloud data and we can guarantee its performance and success vs using Mover.
You still need a Windows licence! (another high cost) and the virtual desktop pricing that we have initially seen (we have background pricing due to being a Silver Microsoft Partner) is complicated as it’s made up of different specifications you need to choose to run with sufficient resources for your intended environment.
An end-user or in-house IT staff with limited cloud experience will have absolutely no idea how to deal with the above points, let alone manage the virtual desktops or the entire Windows 365 Cloud infrastructure on an on-going basis. Therefore it’s likely to be setup incorrectly and when an outsourced IT company is contracted to assist with fixing problems and pro-active management, the whole setup will likely needed to be started again. Leading to delays, frustration, downtime and further costs to resolve and restore.
The best thing is to talk to an IT support company in the first instance who will go through various Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) environments and options, such as Citrix Workplace, Microsoft Azure, VMware, as well as Microsoft’s new Windows 365 Cloud PC service. These alternatives even though are still very technical are far simpler to setup by IT pros due to familiarity, less expensive for organisations and easier to manage due to experience in these other virtual infrastructure products that have been in the marketplace for years. Therefore choosing the right virtual desktop platform for a company will always be based on costs, usablility, actual needs and the ease of roll-out and on-going management for both users and administrators.