Windows 365 lets you stream Windows 10 and Windows 11 from the cloud to any device -- including Mac, iPad, Android and Linux
When Windows 10 was announced back in 2014, Microsoft caused alarm bells to ring when it said the new operating system would be free "for the first year", and referring to it "as a service". That led to speculation that the software giant would start charging a monthly fee for Windows 10, much as it does for Office with Microsoft 365.
That never came to pass, but today at its Inspire 2021 conference Microsoft takes the wraps off Windows 365, a cloud-based Windows subscription service.
The name shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, as it’s the obvious choice, and the one that’s been bandied around for many years. However, this isn’t the sort of service you might have been expecting -- rather it’s a way to access Windows 10 (and Windows 11 when it arrives) from anywhere, via Microsoft Cloud.
For many people, and the companies that employ them, the COVID-19 pandemic changed where and how they work, with huge numbers shifting from working in the office to working from home.
This change has inspired Windows 365, providing a solution that helps employees "collaborate, share, and create" from anywhere.
Wangui McKelvey, General Manager, Microsoft 365 explains: "Windows 365 takes the operating system to the Microsoft Cloud, securely streaming the full Windows experience -- including all your apps, data, and settings -- to your personal or corporate devices. This approach creates a fully new personal computing category, specifically for the hybrid world: the Cloud PC."
Windows 365 will let users access Windows and all of the personalized applications, tools, data, and settings from the cloud and it can be accessed on any device -- through a native application or web browser on any device with an internet connection. This includes Mac, iPad, Android and Linux devices. You can switch between your various devices and pick up exactly where you left off.
Microsoft lists the following benefits:
- Powerful: With instant-on boot to their personal Cloud PC, users can stream all their applications, tools, data and settings from the cloud across any device. Windows 365 provides the full PC experience in the cloud. The cloud also provides versatility in processing power and storage, enabling IT to scale up or down, based on their needs. With a choice of either Windows 10 or Windows 11 (once it is generally available later in 2021), organizations can choose the Cloud PC that works for them with per-user per-month pricing.
- Simple: With a Cloud PC, users can log in and pick back up where they left off across devices, providing a simple and familiar Windows experience delivered by the cloud. For IT, Windows 365 also simplifies deployment, updates and management -- and unlike other solutions, Windows 365 doesn’t require any virtualization experience. With Windows 365 optimized for the endpoint, IT can easily procure, deploy and manage Cloud PCs for their organization just as they manage physical PCs through Microsoft Endpoint Manager. Small and midsize businesses can purchase Windows 365 directly or through a cloud service provider, and set up their organization with Cloud PCs with just a few clicks. Microsoft also continues to innovate in Azure Virtual Desktop for those organizations with deep virtualization experience that want more customization and flexibility options.
- Secure: Windows 365 is secure by design, leveraging the power of the cloud and the principles of Zero Trust. Information is secured and stored in the cloud, not on the device. Always up to date and building on the strength of rich Microsoft security capabilities and baselines, Windows 365 simplifies security and recommends the best security settings for the environment at hand.
Windows 365 will be generally available on August 2, 2021 to organizations of all sizes. Exact pricing has yet to be revealed but Microsoft says there will be two edition options -- Windows 365 Business, and Windows 365 Enterprise.
In the meantime, you can learn more here.