Microsoft Previews Windows 365John LeMay
Microsoft Previews Windows 365
Last week Microsoft provided a preview of the upcoming Windows 365, a simplified Desktop as a Service (DaaS) offering from Microsoft. This new approach to DaaS is targeted, at least initially, at business users and is scalable from single-person organizations to enterprises.
Windows 365 provides users with their own dedicated Windows 10 or Windows 11 “computer in the cloud”. Users can connect to the service from virtually anywhere using virtually any device and access all of their data and applications in a way that is both familiar and secure.
Windows 365 vs Azure Virtual Desktop
Microsoft is not new to the DaaS space. Azure Virtual Desktop, which was recently rebranded from Microsoft Windows Desktop, has been available to business customers since 2019. Windows 365 provides similar functionality but with less administrative overhead and a single monthly fee. This will likely make the offering more attractive to small and mid-sized business customers.
Unlike Azure Virtual Desktop, with Windows 365 business customers are not required to have an Azure subscription, maintain an Azure Active Directory, or have an on-premise Active Directory to leverage the service. Instead, Microsoft includes and maintains all of these services as part of the offering. Customers still need to provision user accounts and virtual desktops as needed, but everything else is handled automatically.
For larger organizations that already use Azure and have an active subscription and configured Azure Active Directory, Windows 365 will integrate easily with those existing Azure subscriptions and directories. Administrators will continue to leverage the Azure features they already use but will be able to take advantage of the faster time to deploy virtual desktops with Windows 365.
Benefits of Windows 365
Windows 365 gives business customers the ability to deploy new virtual desktops on-demand as needed and have users up and running quickly. Since Windows 365 will depend on Windows 10 and will support Windows 11 when it is released, customers can be assured their existing applications can be installed and will continue to run normally. Additionally, with Windows 365 there is no need to install and configure complicated VPNs or other remote access tools.
Once new virtual desktops have been deployed, users can access their Windows 365 desktop through any modern web browser such as Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, or Google Chrome. Users can connect from virtually any device such as other Windows or macOS-based systems, tablets such as the iPad, Chromebooks, or Linux-based systems. Advanced users can also leverage Microsoft’s Remote Desktop application to connect if they prefer.
When a user connects to Windows 365, they will pick up right where they left off. All of their data and applications will be just as they were left in the previous session. Users connecting to Windows 365 from a Windows or Mac-based computer will automatically have access to printers and scanners connected to the device they are connecting from. Microsoft has indicated that access from Linux-based computers will be possible, but at this time they have not provided details regarding this functionality.
Microsoft 365 Plans, Pricing, and Availability
Microsoft has indicated that Windows 365 will launch on August 2nd with all features available and pricing announced at that time. Customers will be able to configure Microsoft 365 instances to provide adequate performance for their users by customizing the compute resources available to each virtual desktop. Microsoft will provide several pre-configured options that provide various numbers of processors, amounts of memory, and available disk space. These settings can be changed as needed.
Microsoft has not officially announced the pricing of Windows 365 except to say that the cost will be fixed on a per-month basis. This is in contrast to other solutions such as Azure Virtual Desktop where prices vary based on monthly usage. However, during a live demonstration of Windows 365 pricing for one configuration was exposed. A Windows 365 instance with 2 processors, 4GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage was priced at $31 per month during that presentation. It is unknown if this will be the final price for that configuration. We can expect several other configurations with differing levels of resources will be available at varying price points.
One cost that will not be included in Windows 365 is the price of the Windows 10 (or Windows 11) license. Instead, customers provide their own Windows 10 licenses that they have already purchased when deploying Windows 365 computers. If needed, additional licenses can be purchased through standard Microsoft licensing agreements and resellers.
Windows 365 promises a better virtual computer experience overall. With simplified management, familiar components, and a fixed price, businesses can begin leveraging the new service immediately without fear of unknown monthly bills or long deployment cycles due to excessive infrastructure requirements.
Oceantec is a Microsoft partner and can assist with licensing, planning, and deployment of Windows 10 and Windows 365 as well as with all other Microsoft products and technologies. Oceantec is based in Toms River, Ocean County, New Jersey and provides professional IT consulting and managed services to business clients. Please contact us to learn more about the services we offer and how we can help your organization realize more value from your IT investments.