Microsoft has announced Windows 365 Cloud PC, a service that takes the operating system to the Microsoft cloud, allowing users to stream their personalized apps, data, content, settings, and storage to and from any personal or corporate device.
It effectively introduces a new way to use Windows 10 or Windows 11 (when it becomes available) to businesses of all sizes, empowering hybrid work while simplifying IT.
With Windows 365, users can simply pick up where they left off on any device—including Mac, iPad, Linux device, and Android.
“The Windows experience is consistent, no matter the device. You can pick up right where you left off, because the state of your Cloud PC remains the same, even when you switch devices. 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 365 General Manager Wangui McKelvey said.
The cloud service supports business apps such as Microsoft 365, Microsoft Dynamics 365, and Microsoft Power Platform. Microsoft also assured users of app compatibility with App Assure, a service that helps customers with at least 150 users fix any app issues they encounter at no additional cost.
Windows 365 will be available on August 2, 2021, to organizations of all sizes. Small and midsize businesses can purchase it directly or through a cloud service provider. And with just a few clicks, they can set up their organization with Cloud PCs. (Read: What you need to know about Windows 11)
Customers can choose the size of the Cloud PC that best meets their needs, with per user per month pricing. They can choose from two edition options that include a completely cloud-based offering with multiple Cloud PC configurations based on performance needs: Windows 365 Business and Windows 365 Enterprise.
The idea is to combine the power and security of the cloud with the versatility and simplicity of the PC. This enables new work and collaboration scenarios in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The ability to work whenever, however, and wherever it’s needed has become the new normal. All employees want technology that’s familiar, easy to use, and available across devices. And in the most complex cybersecurity environment, we’ve ever seen, businesses need a solution that helps their employees collaborate, share, and create while also keeping their data safe and secure,” McKelvey said.
Windows 365 was built with IT in mind, consistent with how they manage their physical devices now. Cloud PCs appear alongside physical devices in Microsoft Endpoint Manager, allowing IT to apply management and security policies to them just as they do with all other devices.
Although Windows 365 is built on Azure Virtual Desktop, it simplifies the virtualization experience by handling all the details for users. It becomes possible to scale processing power and monitor the performance of the Cloud PC to ensure that users are getting the best experience.
Built-in analytics provide an overview of connection health across all networks to make sure that Cloud PC users can reach everything they need on their network to be productive. Through the Endpoint Analytics dashboard, it is easy to identify the Cloud PC environments that are not delivering the performance needs of a given user.
Additionally, the new Watchdog Service continually runs diagnostics to help keep connections operating at all times. Users are alerted and given suggestions on how to correct the issue if a diagnostic check fails.
Zero Trust architecture is the foundation of the cloud’s security. Specifically, information is secured and stored in the cloud rather than on the device.
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) explicitly verifies any login or access attempt to a Cloud PC through integration with Microsoft Azure Active Directory. Moreover, within Microsoft Endpoint Manager, users can pair MFA with dedicated Windows 365 conditional access policies to assess login risk instantly for each session.
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