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Windows 365 Cloud PC: What is it and how does it work?

Microsoft announced Windows 365, a long-awaited cloud computing service powered by the company’s Azure Virtual Desktop platform, on Wednesday. 

According to the company, “Windows 365 will deliver a full, personalized PC experience from the cloud to any device, giving workers and organizations power, simplicity and security for hybrid work.”

Windows 365 will work with Windows 10 and Windows 11 (when it becomes available) and takes the OS to the Azure cloud, streaming the entire experience to the device of your choice, much like video game streaming services that we’ve seen companies like Google and Nvidia try. 

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A personal system in the cloud

The basic concept behind Windows 365 is actually quite simple. Organisations can assign a PC in the cloud to a worker and have them log in and work with all the existing tools that the company is already using without training their workers on any cloud technologies or virtualisation. 

Source: Microsoft

This saves the logistical challenge of issuing new hardware to employees and then having to maintain said hardware. It also simplifies deployment, updates and management. Employers can easily acquire, deploy and manage these machines using the Microsoft Endpoint manager just as they would with a physical PC.

Also, since you’re essentially streaming your OS from a cloud, this removes the impetus from employees for having high-end PCs to run particular software. All you need now is a fast enough internet connection and a device that can stream. 

Microsoft’s ecosystem also doesn’t need to adapt to any specialised hardware or software. So you could run your usual Windows programs that your organisation has already been using without a hassle. The service also uses the same security as the Azure cloud platform and principles of Zero Trust to keep your data safe. 

Source: Microsoft

There’s multifactor authentication built-in to explicitly verify any login attempts through integration with the Microsoft Azure Active Directory to prevent unauthorised logins. You can also pair MFA with conditional access policies to assess login risk. Admins can also delegate permissions like device management, licensing and Cloud PC management using specific roles, avoiding the need for a single global administrator. 

For organisations that want more customisation and flexibility, the Azure Virtual Desktop option is still available. It does, however, require quite a bit of virtualisation experience. 

However, the service isn’t available to the general public just yet. Instead, small and medium-sized businesses can purchase Windows 365 directly or through a cloud service provider and scale their systems up or down according to their needs. Windows 365 will be available to all businesses starting August 2, 2021.

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