You no longer need fancy new hardware to run Windows 11 - here's why

Windows 365 Cloud PC
(Image credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft has announced that cloud-based PCs running Windows 11 are now available to all users of Windows 365, its new virtualization service.

In October at its annual Ignite conference, the company opened up virtual Windows 11 PCs to Windows 365 Enterprise customers (with more than 300 deployments). In a new blog post, however, Microsoft confirmed that Windows 365 Business customers can now spin up Windows 11 desktops too.

Microsoft explained that devices hosting cloud PCs will not be required to adhere to the strict Windows 11 system requirements, which will be fulfilled instead by a virtual TPM (vTPM) chip built into Windows 365 itself.

Windows 11 is now supported across all virtual desktop configurations with at least 2 vCPUs and 4GB of RAM, of which there are eleven in total. The cheapest - with 2 vCPUs, 4GB RAM and 64GB cloud storage - is available for $28.00/£23.90 per month and could be a viable option for a small business (or even an individual) reluctant to splash out on new hardware immediately.

Windows 11 cloud PCs

Microsoft first unveiled Windows 365 in the summer, promising customers “a new way to experience Windows 10 or Windows 11”.

The virtualization service allows users to stream a Windows desktop to any of their devices and from any location, effectively turning the host device into a thin client. Instead of hosting the operating system and applications locally, using up both storage and compute, Windows 365 lets users stream their apps, data and settings to any of their devices - including those ru8nning macOS, Linux and Android.

According to Microsoft, the service opens up a host of new opportunities for businesses, from a cost, administration and productivity perspective. And while no consumer-focused use cases have been announced, we wouldn’t be surprised if something is in the pipeline.

Although Windows 365 didn’t support Windows 11 cloud PCs at launch, customers will now be able to take advantage of the upgrades on offer with the new Microsoft OS, as well as the flexibility afforded by the PC-as-a-service model.

In addition to provisioning brand new Windows 11 cloud PCs, administrators can also upgrade existing Windows 10-based deployments by changing the gallery image in Microsoft Endpoint Manager and triggering a reprovision.

To check whether existing cloud PC deployments are compatible with Windows 11, administrators can consult the Work from anywhere dashboard in Endpoint Analytics.

For companies confused by Microsoft's messaging around Windows 11 system requirements, or without the budget for an overhaul of employee hardware, Windows 365 could prove the ideal option.

Joel Khalili
News and Features Editor

Joel Khalili is the News and Features Editor at TechRadar Pro, covering cybersecurity, data privacy, cloud, AI, blockchain, internet infrastructure, 5G, data storage and computing. He's responsible for curating our news content, as well as commissioning and producing features on the technologies that are transforming the way the world does business.