Microsoft has announced Windows 365, a cloud computing service that will allow users to run Windows 10 or Windows 11 PCs remotely in a web browser. Announced at Microsoft’s annual Inspire conference, Windows 365 is being touted as the start of a new era of “hybrid” personal computing, and while that might be overstating things a touch, this has certainly been a long time coming.
The move means users will be able to access a personalised Windows Cloud PC from any hardware that can run a web browser, and that includes even those with Chromebooks, MacBooks and iPads. Moreover, users will be able to swap between devices with total synchronicity; the state of your applications, tools, data and settings will remain unchanged on the hosting Cloud PC, meaning you can boot instantly into Windows on any supported devices without skipping a beat.
Although there’s clearly potential in the consumer space, Microsoft is targeting businesses first and foremost with Windows 365. Microsoft explains that it will enable temporary or seasonal workers to “ramp on or off” depending on the needs of the business and, with no need to set up and give out new hardware each time a staff member joins, businesses can scale up with relative ease during busy periods.
According to Microsoft, Windows 365 Cloud PCs will appear alongside physical devices in Microsoft Endpoint Manager, in order to streamline the upgrade process as much as possible for IT staff. The Cloud PCs offer the exact same management and security controls that a work Windows laptop does. Within the Microsoft Endpoint Manager interface, businesses can adjust processing power and check connection health on a user-by-user basis and apply recommended improvements on the spot to keep Windows 365 sessions running smoothly.
Windows 365 also simplifies – and in Microsoft’s words, improves – business-wide security by storing and securing information in the cloud, rather than on individual devices. In addition, Microsoft says that each link in the Cloud PC chain is encrypted – whether that’s the Cloud PC itself, stored data, or even network traffic to or from the devices.
This isn’t new technology, per se: customers have been able to can access cloud-hosted PCs via Citrix or even Microsoft’s own Azure Virtual Desktop platform. What Microsoft hopes, however, is that Windows 365 simplifies the process so any business can make the switch. And with so many firms having to adapt fast to a demand for fluid working, it’s easy to see why Windows 365 has appeared when it has.
When it launches on 2 August 2021, Windows 365 will be available in two basic packages: Windows 365 Business and Windows 365 Enterprise. Both are paid for by user and by month, although the exact benefits of each package have not yet been fully detailed. You can find out more about Windows 365 via Microsoft’s website.