2021 is shaping up to be an exciting year for Microsoft. In mid-July 2021, Microsoft introduced Windows 365, an all-new feature in its 365 family that provides users with a virtual Windows PC experience. And just the previous month, the tech giant revealed Windows 11, the long-awaited successor to Windows 10.

For now, let’s talk about Windows 365 – what it is, how it works, whom it’s designed for, the service packages available, and the new opportunities it presents to businesses. Here’s everything you need to know about Windows 365:

What is Windows 365?

In Microsoft’s words, “Windows 365 is your PC in the cloud.” In the simplest form, it’s a cloud PC or Desktop as a Service (DaaS). Instead of just offering snippets of Windows service in the 365 suite, Microsoft decided to go ahead and give users the complete Windows experience in one neat cloud package. This is not exactly a new concept; similar outcomes are achievable through virtualization and remote desktop access. But Window 365 is in a league of its own.

The system allows users to stream Windows 10 and Windows 11 (once it becomes available) over any Windows, Linux, macOS, iOS, or Android device. Microsoft has essentially taken the Windows operating systems to the cloud, just like they’ve done with the Microsoft 365 apps. Windows 365 means that users can quickly create cloud-based PCs resembling the real thing and run them from anywhere. This completely redefines personal computing and opens a whole new world of cloud computing opportunities for businesses.

Who is Windows 365 aimed at?

Since early 2020, organizations have accelerated digitization to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. Many businesses resorted to remote work where employees could work from home via digital collaboration tools, such as Teams, Skype, and SharePoint. Today, as things gradually return to normal, a new hybrid workplace trend is emerging. Employees now want to combine the flexibility of remote work and in-person collaborations.

Over the last 18 months, Microsoft has repeatedly improved Microsoft 365 products to meet new workplace demands. And it’s no accident that the Windows 365 release coincides perfectly with the new hybrid work trend. That is because the cloud PC is designed to smooth the transition to hybrid work. It provides a secure and convenient way for employees to collaborate effortlessly either from home or the office. Windows 365 is aimed at small, medium-sized, and large firms keen on embracing a more flexible workplace model.

Windows 365 plans: Business vs. Enterprise editions

Windows 365 plans are split into “Business” and “Enterprise” packages with slight pricing and technical differences. Either package has a dozen possible cloud PC configurations with varied performance specs and costs. The most basic configuration features 1 vCPU, 2 GB RAM, and 64 GB storage for CAD 34.70 user/month, while the most advanced gives you 8 vCPU, 32 GB RAM, and 512 GB storage for CAD 228.50 user/month.

The Business edition is designed for small and medium-sized organizations with 300 users or fewer. It’s much easier to set up and manage than the Enterprise version since you don’t require an Azure subscription, domain controller, or any technical prerequisites.

The Enterprise packages are aimed at much larger firms with more than 300 users. Window 365 Enterprise is a bit more complex because it comes with additional administrative and security features, tools, and controls. For instance, it includes self-serve upgrade capabilities and advanced Microsoft Endpoint Manager, which require some level of technical skill and a deep understanding of the virtual PC environment to deploy and manage properly. Additionally, the Enterprise package allows you to connect to on-premise (AD, App, data, etc.) which you cannot do with the Business edition.

that with enterprise only you can connect to on premise (AD, App data etc), which you cant do with business.

Note that the Windows 365 license only pays for the cloud PC; it does not include other apps or services other than those natively supported on the platform. So, you’ll still need a Microsoft 365 license to use most cloud apps and services on the virtual PC.

The benefits of Windows 365 for IT teams and organizations

Windows 365 combines the versatility of the Windows operating system with the power of the cloud. This simplifies personal computing in the workplace and general IT management for support teams in the following ways:

Faster workstation deployment

Instead of purchasing desktop computers, laptops, or tablets for the staff, each employee can have a Windows 365 cloud PC for a fraction of the price and in just a few clicks. This drastically speeds up device procurement and deployment. On top of that, users can access their cloud PCs via any supported device as a thin client. So, the cloud does all the heavy computing and data storage, thereby eliminating compatibility and performance issues.

Scalable computing solutions

You can quickly scale up or down the number of users or performance of the computing resources on demand. For instance, you can adjust your package to accommodate new users, optimize costs, or achieve seasonal objectives in just a few minutes.

Strong hybrid work security

Security is perhaps Windows 365’s strongest selling point. With all the workstations and data residing on the secure Microsoft cloud, IT teams will have little concern over endpoint security. You can incorporate BYOD and hybrid work policies in the workplace without worrying about data loss risks from lost, mishandled, or stolen end-user devices. There is also no need to encrypt local disks or tunnel user connections through a VPN.

Windows 365 is indeed a much-needed relief as IT teams and organizations come to terms with the idea of a hybrid workplace model. Read Microsoft’s publication on Windows 365 to learn more about its licensing, technical requirements, and different setup configurations.

Partner with Softlanding to quickly take advantage of Windows 365. We are a professional managed services provider and Gold-certified Microsoft Partner specializing in all things Microsoft. Let’s talk about the Microsoft solutions your organization deserves.

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Softlanding is a long-established IT services provider of transformation, professional services and managed IT services that helps organizations boost innovation and drive business value. We are a multi-award-winning Microsoft Gold Partner with 13 Gold Competencies and we use our experience and expertise to be a trusted advisor to our clients. Headquartered in Vancouver, BC, we have staff and offices in Toronto, Montreal and Calgary to serve clients across Canada.

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