Introducing the Windows 365 Cloud PC

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Microsoft has rolled out Windows 365, which provides the Windows 10 and Windows 11 operating systems as a cloud service. Discover how these “Cloud PCs” are enabling employees to work wherever they want using just about any device.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way many companies operate. One notable development is an increase in the number of businesses adopting a hybrid work model. In other words, they are allowing employees to work both onsite and remotely. For example, employees might work onsite three days a week and work from home the rest of the time. “The ability to work whenever, however, and wherever it’s needed has become the new normal,” noted Wangui McKelvey, the Microsoft 365 general manager.

However, businesses often need to set up separate systems that enable remote employees to connect to the company network and access its resources. Besides increasing IT staff members’ workloads, these systems can increase companies’ potential attack surface, especially if the remote workers are using their own personal devices to connect to the network.

To implement a successful hybrid work environment, businesses need a solution that allows employees to access and share resources, collaborate, and communicate while keeping the companies’ data and IT systems secure. Employees need a solution that is easy to use and available across devices.

To address these needs, Microsoft rolled out Windows 365 on August 2, 2021. Windows 365 provides the Windows 10 and Windows 11 (expected in late 2021) operating systems as a cloud service. Just like employees have their own physical Windows PCs in a traditional workplace, users have their own Windows PCs in the cloud. Each user’s “Cloud PC” contains his or her personalized apps, data, and settings.

“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,” noted McKelvey. “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.”

Easy for Employees to Access and Use

One feature that will likely attract employees is the ability to access their Cloud PC from any device that has a web browser, including Android, iPad, Linux, Mac, and even Raspberry Pi devices. Alternatively, they can run the Microsoft Remote Desktop app to access their Cloud PC if they are using a Windows, iOS, macOS, or Android device.

“The Windows experience is consistent, no matter the device,” noted McKelvey. “You can pick up right where you left off, because the state of your Cloud PC remains the same, even when you switch devices. You can get the same work done on a laptop in a hotel room, a tablet from the car between appointments, or your desktop while you’re in the office.”

Employees will also be happy about the ease in which they can connect to their Cloud PC. All they need to do is open the Remote Desktop app or web browser on their device and log in to their Windows 365 account.

Easy for IT Staff to Manage

Business leaders and IT staff will likely appreciate the ease in which Cloud PCs can be deployed, managed, and secured. Although Windows 365 is built on Azure Virtual Desktop, the cloud service takes care of the virtualization details.

Equally important, Windows 365 is integrated into Microsoft Endpoint Manager. As a result, Cloud PCs appear alongside physical devices in Endpoint Manager. IT staff members are able to use the same tools to deploy, manage, and secure both Cloud PCs and physical devices.

“With Windows 365, we are modernizing the way that Windows experiences are delivered for anyone on practically any device,” said Scott Manchester, the director of program management for Windows 365. “It’s easy to use and just as easy for IT to manage.”

Not Just for Large Companies with a Hybrid Workplace

Windows 365 was designed from the ground up to fit the hybrid work experience, according to Manchester. However, companies with a traditional workplace might also find the cloud service beneficial. For example, Cloud PCs would be work well in organizations where employees frequently travel for business or work out of multiple offices.

And since Windows 365 is a subscription-based cloud service that employs a per-user pricing structure, it is suitable for companies of any size. Two subscription plans are available at the time of this writing: Windows 365 Business (300 or fewer users) and Windows 365 Enterprise (unlimited number of users). Microsoft currently does not offer any consumer plans, but that might change in the future.

Intrigued by Windows 365? We can provide more information and help you determine if it is a viable solution for your business.

Secure Cloud – Data Security – Cyber Security flickr photo by perspec_photo88 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license