Windows 365 is a new product from Microsoft that takes your Windows operating system to the cloud. You’ll be able to stream your PC onto any other device that has a browser — including a phone, tablet, Mac, or Linux device.

Importantly, this means you’ll be able to access your work computer from home, complete with all the most up to date version of your personalised settings, apps and data as soon as you open your virtual device.

Windows 365 will integrate with Windows 10 or Windows 11 when it’s released. The software will initially only be available to businesses of all sizes, so you won’t be able to stream your personal device data yet.

So how does Windows 365 change the game for the desktop environment?

Customised for the Hybrid Workforce

One of the chief strengths of Windows 365 is how it enables the modern business and its hybrid workforce. Microsoft’s own recent Work Index Trend survey showed that 73% of employees want flexible work policies, and organisations around the world are looking to implement permanent remote work options to empower employees.

Windows 365 can facilitate all of that by creating a more familiar working environment for employees from home. It can also empower staff who usually require customised computers, including engineers, software developers, and staff in highly creative or analytical roles. Each staff member can have personalised computer software for their home working environment to enable greater connection and productivity.

And one of the classic benefits that cloud provides to your business will carry over to Windows 365: scalability. Windows 365 offers businesses the option of scaling subscriptions up and down as they grow and change over time, with per-user per-month pricing. This can enable organisations, for example, to move workers back to the office for particularly busy periods, while still retaining flexible work models for the rest of the year.

Simplified User Experience

Windows 365 has been designed to be as simple to use as possible, both for everyday employees and for the IT administrators in charge of managing new software.

Windows 365 will have instant on-boot capabilities so users can pick up right where you left off from other devices. With a consistent user experience no matter where you are, you’ll be empowered to work with whichever device you prefer.

There’s also an in-built Endpoint Analytics dashboard to provide visibility capabilities for your IT department. They’ll be able to see data on your network, connections, needs, issues, and even recommendations for better performance.

You can get the same work done on a laptop in a hotel room, a tablet from their car between appointments, or your desktop while you’re in the office. — Microsoft

Plus, there’s a range of ways to customise Windows 365 to make it more comfortable for the end user, such as resizing the virtual desktop to your liking.

Better Security

With the astronomical rise of cyber crime over the past 18 months — Australia saw a 30,000% increase in cyber threats in 2020 — cyber security is more important than ever. Fortunately, Microsoft has designed Windows 365 with Zero Trust principles in mind to maximise privacy and security.

A raft of features have been added to improve the security of Windows 365. All data will be stored on the cloud and not on individual devices, data at rest will be protected by encryption, and every login attempt will require Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA). Microsoft Defender for Endpoint also seamlessly integrates with Windows 365 for additional protection.

Windows 365 also has least privileged access principles, with the ability to delegate permissions such as licensing, device management, and Cloud PC management to specific roles. This means you won’t need to have a global administrator, which is officially recommended against in the Australian government’s Essential Eight cyber security model.

Differences with Azure Virtual Desktop

Windows 365 is very similar to Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD), another desktop service based in the cloud. In fact, Windows 365 is built on top of Microsoft’s existing AVD infrastructure. However, Windows 365 will have a predictable per-user pricing model, whereas AVD uses consumption-based pricing.

Managing your Windows 365 desktops will be as similar to managing physical devices as possible. You’ll already have the tools, apps and settings you’re already familiar with, and Microsoft Endpoint Manager can manage virtual devices next to all your physical devices.

AVD, on the other hand, has a variety of configuration settings to customise and uses the native Azure Portal as its management software. Deploying AVD may also require third-party tools and have a wider range of options, such as backup and disaster recovery.

Overall, Windows 365 is a model designed to be as simple as possible to use and manage, by both your everyday employees and your IT admins. AVD, on the other hand, provides further customisation and flexibility capabilities, but with potentially unexpected costs and a greater learning curve for your IT department.

Want to know more?

If you’re interested in finding out if Windows 365 is the right way for your organisation to scale and collaborate going forward, get in touch with our certified IT Procurement specialists to see how we can help. As a certified Microsoft Gold Partner, we look forward to helping you utilise Microsoft products to drive organisational growth.