Microsoft finally announced the general availability of Windows 365 just a couple of days ago to much fanfare. It also allowed users to enroll in free trials for the service and in fact, the option became so much popular that the company recently announced that it is temporarily halting trials due to capacity constraints.
While most of us following this space know about the major details of Windows 365. In a nutshell, it allows organizations to stream from Windows hosted on the Microsoft Cloud. This is a full Windows experience for each employee with personalized settings, apps, and data. You do not need any special hardware to run it, and just have to choose from the multiple pricing tiers ranging from $20 all the way up to $162 – which nets you a Cloud PC with 8 vCPUs, 32GB of RAM, and 512GB of storage.
However, there are some other details about the service that are worth knowing as well. Microsoft has listed all of them in a very lengthy FAQ here, but we have highlighted some of the major ones here for brevity.
While this may be obvious to some, it is important to note that a Cloud PC cannot be shared between multiple users. Windows 365 only allows one user per license. And although it is possible to upgrade your configuration to resize RAM, vCPUs, and storage based on your needs, it is impossible to downgrade currently. In the same vein, Business licenses cannot be converted to Enterprise. As such, if you end up canceling your Windows 365 subscription, you should keep in mind that Microsoft will temporarily retain your data according to Microsoft 365 data retention standards before eventually deleting it. You may also be entitled to a partial refund depending upon when you cancel your subscription.
A perk that Microsoft is offering to organizations is Windows Hybrid Benefit, which allows them to save up to 16% on subscriptions with a Business license. Simply stated, if you are the primary user on a Windows 10 Pro machine running Windows 365 business, you are eligible for this benefit. To ensure that your discounted pricing is active, you are still required to sign in to the Windows 365 service at least once during the period of your subscription.
Microsoft has noted that network usage costs may apply if you use Windows 365. For Enterprise users, all network traffic is routed through the Azure virtual network so the associated cost for that will be applicable. Similarly, the following outbound limits will apply to Business users:
- 1 vCPU / 2 GB / 64 GB: includes 12 GB of outbound data per user per month.
- 2 vCPU / 4 GB / 64 GB, 2 vCPU / 4 GB / 128 GB, 2 vCPU / 4 GB / 256 GB, 2 vCPU / 8 GB / 128 GB, 2 vCPU / 8 GB / 256 GB: includes 20 GB of outbound data per user per month.
- 4 vCPU / 16 GB / 128 GB, 4 vCPU / 16 GB / 256 GB, 4 vCPU / 16 GB / 512 GB: includes 40 GB of outbound data per user per month.
- 8 vCPU / 32 GB / 128 GB, 8 vCPU / 32 GB / 256 GB, 8 vCPU / 32 GB / 512 GB: includes 70 GB of outbound data per user per month.
The company has emphasized that Windows 365 is geared towards individual productivity rather than use-cases such as website hosting and content streaming. The Redmond tech giant has cautioned that it may limit your bandwidth usage if you proceed beyond these limits to ensure high quality of services for other subscribers as well.
One of the main selling points of Windows 365 is that it can run on any device with an internet connection and an HTML5 browser, but Microsoft recommends mouse- and keyboard-based input. We already discussed in detail about how Microsoft has extended its App Assure program to cover Windows 365. Through it, the company works directly with you and third-party app vendors if you face app compatibility issues on the service. It comes at no additional cost if you're eligible for Microsoft's FastTrack program.
Finally, Windows 365 is available globally, except in China. Your network performance and overall experience on the service is governed highly by your proximity to an Azure region since the OS is being streamed from the cloud.