Microsoft has announced Windows 365, a new cloud service that takes the Windows operating system to the Microsoft Cloud, allowing for the secure streaming of the Windows experience.
According to Microsoft, that experience includes a user’s apps, data and settings, all of which can be streamed to personal or corporate devices. Essentially, this creates a new personal computing category that Microsoft calls the Cloud PC, and one designed for hybrid working.
Windows 365, built on Azure Virtual Desktop, provides a cloud-based Windows 10 experience, but Microsoft will expand this offering to Windows 11 once the new version of the operating system becomes available.
Why Microsoft Introduced Windows 365
In the company’s blog announcing the solution, Microsoft cited its recent Work Tends Index that found 73% of workers want flexible remote work options to remain while 67% wan more in-person collaboration post-pandemic. That creates a hybrid work paradox that leaves organizations with a big problem: accommodating employees that want to work at home, in the office or both.
Much like how we’ve embraced the cloud for other products, our vision for a Windows 365 Cloud PC is to deliver a new way to experience Windows through the power of the cloud—while solving both novel and traditional challenges for organizations. This new paradigm isn’t just about allowing and securing remote access. The user experience is more important than ever for attracting and retaining talent, improving productivity, and ensuring security.
According to Microsoft, Windows 365 will provide “an instant-on boot experience that enables users to stream all their personalized applications, tools, data and settings from the cloud across any device,” including Mac, iPad, Linux or Android device. Regardless of device, the Windows experience will be consistent and users can switch between devices and pick up right where they left off.
You can get the same work done on a laptop in a hotel room, a tablet from their car between appointments, or your desktop while you’re in the office. Seasonal workers also can ramp on and off according to the needs of the business, allowing the organization to scale for busy periods without the complicated logistical and security challenges of issuing new hardware. Further, companies can be more targeted in how they outfit specialized workers in creative, analytics, engineering, or scientific roles who need greater compute power and access to critical applications.
What this means for businesses and IT teams
Windows 365 also supports business apps included in Microsoft 365, Microsoft Dynamics 365, Microsoft Power Platform and others, and organizations with 150 or more users will also have access to App Assure to fix any app issues they might run into.
IT teams can choose the size of the Cloud PC that meets their needs on a monthly per user cost, and organizations can choose from two options: Windows 365 Business and Windows 365 Enterprise.
Microsoft says Windows 365 was built to be consistent with how IT teams manage physical devices now. Cloud PCs will show up alongside physical devices in Microsoft Endpoint manager, and admins can apply management and security policies as they would physical devices.
The solution is built on Azure Virtual Desktop, but in a way design to simplify the experience for end users, allowing IT to scale processing power and monitor the performance of the Cloud PC with built-in analytics.
Microsoft says Windows 365 is also built on a Zero Trust architecture with data stored on the cloud and multi-factor authentication (MFA) required to verify any login or access attempt through an integration with Azure AD. In Endpoint Manager, MFA can also be paired with dedicated conditional access policies to assess login risk instantly for reach session.
The user and admin experiences were designed around the principle of least privileged access, according to Microsoft. This allows IT to delegate specific permissions like licensing, device management, and Cloud PC management using specific roles, negating the need for a global administrator.
When will this be available?
Microsoft plans to make Windows 365 available to any organization on Aug. 2. The company didn’t say when this would be available for Windows 11 and has yet to even give an official release date for the new operating system.