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Microsoft releases Windows 365 cloud desktop

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Microsoft has launched Windows 365, which can now stream the familiar interface and Windows apps to any device.

15th Jul 2021
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Yesterday Microsoft unveiled Windows 365, a new subscription service that allows businesses to stream Windows 10 (and Windows 11) desktops from the cloud to individual employees using non-Windows devices. The new desktop interface is expected to open for general availability on 2 August.

Essentially, the underlying Windows processes will run in a data centre and be fed over the net to any device. Employees will be able to switch and change between devices to continue working on the same file without disruption.

Microsoft’s new desktop-as-a-service concept will be hosted on its Azure web platform. The suspicion remains, however, that it sounds very similar to the Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD), formerly known as Windows Virtual Desktop.

The only difference appears to be that Azure Virtual Desktop has a pay-as-you-go consumption-based pricing model, where Windows 365 has a set per-user/per-month fee.

Microsoft is firm that Windows 365 is not a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) or platform as a service (PaaS) offering. In contrast, it is positioning Windows 365 as a software as a service (SaaS) solution, where “you don't have to be a virtualisation expert” and don't have to interact with the Azure portal whatsoever.

“We're not shipping anything that's infrastructure,” said Microsoft cloud managed desktops partner director Scott Manchester.

“We're providing all that as a back-end service. If you were to classify it, it would be most aligned with DaaS (desktop as a service)”, but it goes “way beyond what traditional DaaS provides.”

According to Microsoft, Windows 365 is an “instant-on boot experience” that works with any device, including Macs, iPads, Linux PCs, and Android devices. 

“Windows 365 is a cloud service that introduces a new way to experience Windows 10 or Windows 11 for workers from interns and contractors to software developers and industrial designers,” said Microsoft 365 general manager Wangui McKelvey. 

“Windows 365 takes the operating system to the Microsoft Cloud, securely streaming the full Windows experience – including all your apps, data, and settings – to your personal or corporate devices.”

To try and establish its approach as a completely new “hybrid” category of personal computing, Microsoft branded its new service as the Cloud PC.

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John Stokdyk, AccountingWEB head of insight
By John Stokdyk
15th Jul 2021 17:19

Oh dear... it sounds like an interesting concept, but in their enthusiasm to define and categorise the world of cloud apps, MS has gone down rabbit-holes of jargon that have very little meaning for actual users in the real world.

The first thing I thought when I heard about the Cloud PC idea was that Microsoft was introducing an equivalent to a Chromebook... Anyway we live and learn, and at least I can tell you the difference between SaaS, PaaS and DaaS now.

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