What is Windows 365

We have heard of a plethora of products promoting computers on the cloud. Do you know the difference between a cloud pc, a virtual desktop, and Windows 365? When I first began thinking about and researching the topic of this blog, I had no idea what the difference was, but fear not, because below I describe the difference, and the advances and pitfalls of each.

Cloud PC vs Virtual Desktop

The difference between these two is actually fairly easy to understand. One is a shared server that multiple users can connect to and work on simultaneously, while the other is a personal cloud computer.

Virtual Desktop

First, Virtual Desktops. These are also known as ‘Desktop as a Service’, and the ‘old(er)’ technology. Before, Microsoft’s Virtual Desktop was called Windows Virtual Desktop, but recently became Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD). AVD is great for larger businesses that want economy of scale, or businesses that want to fully maintain and control their backend. Additionally, AVD allows the deployment of an image to end users.

With AVD, businesses generally utilize pooled use. Pooled use can be understood as X amount of people connecting to the same server with different Virtual Desktop’s or sessions. This keeps server costs down as more employees utilize the service. With everyone utilizing the same server, they all have the same software and settings as one another. If one employee requires a new program, all employees that connect to that server will receive it, even if it will never be utilized. Only the desktop belongs to the end user in the case of AVD, and if a user wants/needs to install a new app, or change a setting, they can’t without contacting their admin, and having it installed or changed for everyone.

AVD is great for businesses that prioritize scaling, need more control of their company desktops, and/or want to do multi-session. Each user must first have a license, but this comes standard with several Microsoft 365 subscriptions including F3, Business Premium, E3, and E5. Businesses can also get this service a la carte but will need to speak to a Finchloom representative to get an estimate. Through this estimate, Finchloom can predict your monthly spend and craft a plan that is right for you.

Customers only pay for the Azure costs to run the host, as opposed to paying for each user individually. Host machines generally cost between $200-$400 and can be scaled up or down based on usage. All in all, AVD is a great choice for larger businesses with many employees in similar roles, whether it be data entry, or software engineers.

Cloud PC and Windows 365

Shifting the subject, let us talk about Cloud PC’s and Windows 365. Windows 365 IS a ‘Cloud PC’. Several other companies offer similar products including Amazon Workspaces, which although a reasonable competitor, lacks the strong Microsoft backbone that offers versatility, mobility, and the automatic use of Windows 10. Windows 365 also requires no management of the backend.

There are 2 different editions of Windows 365, Business Edition, and Enterprise Edition. Business Edition was created for companies that have under 300 employees and requires Microsoft Business Premium. Users must also have Intune and Azure AD enabled.

Enterprise Edition is for businesses with over 300 users, and similarly ideal for customers with business premium, although those with E3/E5 are also eligible. With the Enterprise Edition, apps are already installed, and the image can be customized. Virtual Desktop’s also can join the domain and be controlled and managed with Group Policy, Intune, or Endpoint Manager.

How do they Differ?

Windows 365 allows businesses to give out dedicated Windows 10 virtual desktops to employees. These users have admin rights on their computer and connect to Active Directory or Microsoft 365, which in turn, enables the SSO feature for Office and browser apps. Where AVD has rigidity, Windows 365 has flexibility. Each employee using a Windows 365 Cloud PC can manage their own desktop as they are admins. They can install and remove apps, change settings, and if they so choose, even the background on their Cloud PC. Employees ‘own’ this PC, but can also receive pushed updates, and can be managed from the cloud.

Windows 365 is great for a variety of businesses. New hires are a perfect example as many businesses are continuing to work from home or work from anywhere. If a business hires a new offsite employee, it will take a couple days for their equipment to be delivered. With Windows 365, the employee can login from any computer, and begin work with a device that they already own. This is applicable for companies that are bring your own device (BYOD) as well.

Let’s say that a sales employee has a desktop in office but travels a lot and needs access to the files that are on the office computer. Traditionally, this employee would need a secondary device, and then need to VPN back into their office every time they need their computer. Windows 365 can allow this employee to login to their cloud PC while in the office, and additionally while traveling, from a hotel computer, or even another business. This process is also very secure as all apps stay within your Cloud PC.

A great comparison of Cloud PC’s to Virtual Desktops is to think of a bus versus a single passenger car. In this situation, a virtual desktop is the bus, it can carry many people, but all are in the same bus, with the same driver, same air conditioning, and same seats. Windows 365 is the car. It will similarly get you where you need to go, but if you want to change the temperature, add an air freshener, or paint your car a whole new color, you are free to do so. Customization is the key to Cloud PC’s, and not having to maintain the backend is a huge bonus.

How do I get a Windows 365 Cloud PC?

I am glad you asked. Windows 365 is out today and is offering a free trial for all users. Once the free trial has run its course, businesses are charged per user per month, starting at $20. There is no setup and no configuration, just sign up and go! Finchloom can walk you through the specifics of each type of configuration and make a recommendation catered to your business needs. As one of the early adopters of cloud technology, we are experts in this field, and want to collaborate with your business to guide it towards a successful implementation. For more information on Windows 365 and how your business can benefit, contact us here. I am looking forward to seeing the emerging technologies within the cloud space, and Windows 365 is a giant step in the right direction. Thanks for reading!