The rumor mill believes Windows 365 is coming in consumer flavors, one of which will be a ‘family’ bundle, and we’ve also heard some chatter on potential pricing for this subscription.
Windows 365 is a cloud-based installation of Windows 11, meaning it’s streamed to you, rather than being installed on your local PC, and it’s currently available to businesses in three different plans (and there are separate products for the enterprise world, too, all with Office apps bundled).
So the rumor, as Windows Latest has heard from its sources, is that there will be Windows 365 consumer plans aimed at everyday users, with the theory proposed that one will be an individual subscription, and the other a family bundle (for multiple users which will work out cheaper than the single-person plan, naturally).
There’s nothing firm on pricing yet, unsurprisingly, but the rumored internal chatter is that Microsoft has been mulling charging at least $10 per month for the cheapest Windows 365 consumer product, or perhaps more like $20 for that entry-level subscription.
Take all of this, and especially that nugget on pricing, with a whole heap of salt. We’re told that pricing is very much up in the air at this stage, anyway, but we can expect that consumer plans will likely be cheaper than business subscriptions (and we’d hope that’d be the case).
What timeline are we looking at for the launch of consumer Windows 365? Windows Latest reckons that the cloudy spin on Windows 11 will arrive in the fall, so in theory, it could be just a few short months away.
Analysis: The inevitably cloudy future for consumers
We’re not sure that a release is that near on the horizon, in all honesty – we’re pretty skeptical Microsoft is going to move quite that quickly here.
That said, this route definitely seems to be in the cards, as evidenced by materials that have come to light recently due to the FTC vs Microsoft hearing, which make the software giant’s cloud ambitions very clear.
Namely that Microsoft very much sees the future of the consumer space as shifting Windows 11 to the cloud, and an installation of the OS being managed on a remote server, and streamed to any device, anywhere, rather than sitting on your local PC. And these fresh rumors are certainly a weighty hint that this could happen more quickly than we anticipated.
However, before going all-in with the cloud PC, and ruling out local installations completely, Microsoft might first visit some sort of compromise on Windows 11 users, involving a dual-boot system that can either be used locally or as a cloud PC.
The best of both worlds, if you will, and a slightly easier pill to swallow for those who have concerns about going fully to the cloud with their PC. (Worries that may be numerous around security and data privacy, to pick a couple of obvious issues with Microsoft having all your apps and data on its servers).
Indeed, there’s already work underway in testing with Windows 365 Boot for Windows 11, which allows for logging into either a cloud PC instance or the local installation of Windows on the desktop PC in front of you.
We really don’t know exactly how Microsoft will approach the idea of the cloud PC in the consumer space, but we’ve got a feeling it’s going to have to be pretty cautious and tentative, because this is such a big change. What we do know is the cloud PC concept is almost definitely coming to consumers at some point, and expect to hear more on the rumor mill before too long, no doubt.
Another idea Microsoft may be exploring is the idea of cheap subscription-based and cloud-connected PCs subsidized by adverts.
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Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).