Influenced by the colossal change in our relationships with work and technology brought about by the pandemic, Windows 365 has been created exclusively for businesses to make hybrid work simpler and more productive. The service reduces the security risks associated with working from home or using personal devices, as information is stored in the cloud rather than on the device itself.
How Windows 365 works
Windows 365 appears and is used in the same way as the traditional Windows operating system but is accessed and managed via your internet browser or the Microsoft Remote Desktop app – your entire desktop is stored in a secure data centre rather than on your actual device.
It can be thought of as a streaming service, except instead of streaming your favourite Netflix shows or Spotify tunes, it streams the output of a Windows PC.
Simplifying remote work
One of the main challenges faced by businesses when it comes to hybrid work is enabling employees to switch easily between the office and their home, or another remote location. Windows 365 allows Managed Service Providers to set up and scale Cloud PCs that are personalised to their company’s needs, depending on the number of end users, their workload, and the amount of storage they need. This sort of technology solution could suit temporary or contract staff that use BYO devices.
The fact that Windows 365 allows users to stream their desktop from the cloud means that they can seamlessly transition from one device to another. It sounds perfect for the new era of hybrid work which requires more flexibility from businesses and the technology they use – employees can log off from their desktop computer in the office on a Friday and sign back in on their laptop at home on Monday, picking up right where they left off.
There are two plans available: Business, for smaller organisations that want a straightforward way to buy, deploy, and manage Cloud PCs; and Enterprise, for organisations that want to manage their Cloud PCs with Microsoft Endpoint Manager and take advantage of integrations with other Microsoft services.
What devices is Windows 365 compatible with?
What’s unique about Windows 365 is that it can be experienced on any modern device with an internet connection. This means that users can access their Windows desktop whether they use Windows, iOS, macOS, Android or Linux operating systems.
If, for example, an employee wanted to work on a PC in the office for a couple of days, then use an iPad on a client site visit, then work from home on their Chromebook for the rest of the week, they could do so with ease, switching from one device to another with uninterrupted access to all their apps, data, content, and settings. The risks associated with using personal devices for work are mitigated, as sensitive business data is encrypted in the cloud rather than being stored on the device itself. You don’t need a device with superfast connection speeds to run Windows 365, either – if you have enough bandwidth to stream a movie, you’re good to go – and once you’re in your Cloud PC, connection speeds are even faster.
What are the costs?
Well, that's the kicker for small businesses, given the commercials it's not a credible alternative to conventional fat desktops. I have chosen a couple of entry level build specs and modelled that over 4 years. Given that an equivalent spec PC is likely to cost £500.00, it will be difficult to justify.
Machine Build Spec Monthly Cost Yearly Cost Total Cost for 4 years
2 Core 4Gb RAM 128Gb Drive £26.40 £317.00 £1267.20
2 Core 8Gb RAM 128Gb Drive £34.90 £419.00 £1675.20
What’s the difference between Windows 11 and Windows 365?
The main distinction between the two is that Windows 11 is a traditional operating system that anyone can buy and install on their computer, whereas Windows 365 is a subscription service that allows businesses to stream Windows 11 (or Windows 10) from the cloud to any device.
Because a traditional operating system like Windows 11 is installed on your device, it uses up RAM and storage space. Windows 365, on the other hand, doesn’t take up any room on your device as everything is stored in the cloud, but it does mean that an internet connection is required for it to run.
Windows 10 and 11 are either pre-installed on devices or you buy a license and it’s yours to keep forever. In contrast, Windows 365 operates on a subscription model, so you rent your desktops. This could be useful if you hire contractors, freelancers, or temporary workers such as interns, as you can quickly set up their new Cloud PC and provide secure access to company data without having to make long-term investments.
Preparing for the new era of hybrid work
There is no doubt that Microsoft’s new releases have been influenced by the impact of pandemic-induced remote work, gearing their offering towards the future workplace which, for many, is a hybrid of the office and the home. It’s exciting to see these innovative new products come to life and we can’t wait to see the benefits they will bring for businesses. This could well be the future of computing, with Amazon already introducing web browser support for its AWS virtualisation service ahead of the Windows 365 launch.