Microsoft officially announced its latest virtualization service with the launch of Windows 365 and Cloud PC. This new service, built on Azure Virtual Desktop, will allow users to bring their Windows 10 or Windows 11 (when available), apps, tools, data and settings to their personal and work devices, including PCs, Mac Devices , iPads, Linux and Android via a native Remote Desktop app or web browser.
Microsoft’s proposal is that the Cloud PC will provide a secure place to store applications, files and documents, which users will be able to access at any time on any device connected to the Internet. Information is stored in the cloud, not on the device. By moving between devices, users can boot quickly and pick up right where they left off, regardless of device type.
Microsoft is planning to make Windows 365 and Cloud PC available from August 2nd and announce the per-user and per-month pricing for the service at the same time. There will be various prices and plans available for purchase, which will offer different amounts of processing power, storage and memory. Unlike the case of Azure Virtual Desktop (the service formerly known as Windows Virtual Desktop), Windows 365 / Cloud PC will be available for a fixed subscription fee and not a constantly changing fee based on the consumption of cloud services, which is more focused on the business market.
Microsoft 365 / Office 365 will continue to be available as separate subscriptions. And using Windows virtualized with Windows 365 will be an option, not a requirement. Users will still be able to run Windows and their Windows applications locally if that is preferable to them.
“Cloud PC” is a Windows experience where users will connect through Windows 365, which is the real service that will stream from Windows 10 or 11. Melissa Grant, Director of Product Marketing at Microsoft 365, said that using the two different terms is “a way to differentiate between the traditional PC experience and the cloud-powered experience through Windows 365”.
One of Microsoft’s main goals with Windows 365/Cloud PC is to simplify the Windows setup, maintenance, and management experience. There will be two options for companies with the service as it becomes available, Grant said. For small businesses without IT support, a self-service option, with many settings automatically applied on your behalf, is likely to be the best option, she said. For companies using Microsoft Endpoint Manager, administrators can provision and manage cloud PCs the same way they do physical PCs today, Grant said.
Administrators will be able to scale processing power and monitor cloud PC performance for their users. The service will include built-in analytics, allowing IT professionals to see the health of the network across their organizations. The Endpoint Analytics dashboard will show cloud PCs that are not working properly, make recommendations, and handle updates. There will also be a new Watchdog service to continuously run diagnostics and provide alerts when diagnostic checks fail.
Windows 365/Cloud PC will not only support Microsoft applications; the service will also allow users to remotely log in to any app that can run on Windows 10 or 11. Software developers won’t have to make any changes or modifications to their apps to work virtually with Windows 365 / cloud PC , said Grant. And because the applications run virtually, users will have access to high-computing applications like video editing software or graphic design programs, no matter what device they’re using. That way, users will have access, thanks to Windows 365, to apps that traditionally aren’t cloud-enabled.
By the way, if you think you’ve heard of a service called “Windows 365,” you might. In 2014, there was talk that Microsoft was planning to turn Windows into a subscription service, possibly branded Windows 365, which would entail charging users monthly or annually to run the Windows operating system. Information that has not been confirmed.