At its annual Inspire conference, the company offered up the first official details about the long-rumored service (opens in new tab), which allows users to stream a Windows desktop to their device via the cloud (opens in new tab).
Instead of hosting the operating system and applications locally, soaking up both storage and computing resources, Windows 365 lets users stream their apps, data and settings to any of their devices - including those that run on macOS, Linux or Android.
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Windows 365 Cloud PC
Underneath the Windows 365 umbrella sits Cloud PC (opens in new tab), a business-focused virtualization (opens in new tab) service that effectively turns corporate devices into thin clients (opens in new tab).
Built with hybrid working (opens in new tab) in mind, Cloud PC also makes device switching simple, maintaining a consistent state across all computers (opens in new tab), laptops (opens in new tab) and tablets (opens in new tab) to let workers pick up precisely where they left off.
“The ability to work whenever, however, and wherever it’s needed has become the new normal,” said Wangui McKelvey, GM Microsoft 365. “All employees want technology that is familiar, easy to use, and available across devices.”
“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 secure. We have an opportunity to design the tools that will empower this new world of hybrid work with a new perspective - and the power and security of the cloud.”
Cloud PC is also designed to help businesses save on costs, by allowing seasonal workers and contractors to “ramp on and off” in periods of either quiet or need. And it will become much easier for companies to dial computing resources up and down for specific groups of employees, depending on role requirements.
To make the transition as simple as possible for IT departments, Cloud PCs will appear alongside physical Windows computers in Microsoft Endpoint Manager and the patch management (opens in new tab) process will remain identical.
According to Microsoft, Cloud PC also addresses a number of the cybersecurity problems, by storing data in the cloud as opposed to on-device. Integrations with the company’s various security and identity management (opens in new tab) services make setting up multi-factor authentication and conditional access simple. And encryption is applied across the board, from data at rest to network traffic running to and from Cloud PCs.
“We are so excited to share this new way to experience Windows 10 or Windows 11 through the power of cloud across all your devices,” added McKelvey. “We believe this will give organizations of all sizes the power, simplicity and security you need to address the changing needs of your workforce.”
The new service, which goes live on August 2, will be available in two configurations: Windows 365 Business and Windows 365 Enterprise. Billed on a per user per month basis, these two packages offer businesses a different range of performance options.
Although Microsoft has now shared a wealth of information about the business-focused use cases for Windows 365, we await further details about the implied consumer application.
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