After close to a year of rumors, Microsoft today officially announced Cloud PC, which is part of a new Windows 365 cloud offering from the Redmond firm, at its Inspire conference. The company says that Cloud PC is a “hybrid personal computing category” which “uses both the power of the cloud and the capabilities of the device to provide a full, personalized Windows experience”, remotely delivering Windows 10 and – eventually – Windows 11 to users across platforms from the cloud.
Microsoft says Windows 365 Cloud PC offers an “instant-on boot experience” that delivers the desired apps, settings, tools, and data from any device thanks to the cloud. This means that users will be able to access their desktops from remote locations without having to carry physical hardware, further helping the “hybrid” form of work that the firm says is becoming ubiquitous. Other benefits that the firm cites include the ability for businesses to scale up easily based on seasonality or “busy periods” without having to procure physical hardware, security benefits of deploying virtually, and more.
The service is built on Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD), but offers per-user, per-month pricing, and “simplifies the virtualization experience”, says the company. It provides flexibility for businesses to also scale depending on their needs and leverage other Microsoft offerings, such as the Microsoft 365 suite of apps, Dynamics 365, Power Platform, and more from the cloud. Organizations have the option to choose between two editions – Windows 365 Business or Windows 365 Enterprise, based on the configuration requirement. The service allows businesses to tweak performance quickly to cater to users’ needs.
Additionally, Windows 365 integrates with management tools such as Microsoft Endpoint Manager and can be managed just like physical devices, right from the dashboard. Cloud PCs are listed along with the physical devices and include analytics and diagnostics options for real-time monitoring. As for security, Windows 365 supports multi-factor authentication (MFA) and Azure Active Directory (AAD) sign-in, allowing “conditional access policies” and permission delegation based on user roles, where necessary. Cloud PCs are also encrypted “across the board”.
Windows 365 Cloud PC will become available to organizations starting August 2, bringing Windows 10 and Windows 11, when available, via the cloud. You can learn more about the offering here.