Windows 365 – Microsoft’s cloud-based operating system explained

Microsoft presented last week Windows 365, a new service that allows the company to eliminate partners from the lucrative loop by providing virtual PCs to customers.

Rather than providing just the operating system or operating system and pieces of other software, including productivity apps in the form of Office, Microsoft will soon also be offering an ersatz hardware, virtual machines running on its vast cloud of Azure servers.

Dubbed “desktop as a service” (DaaS, to use other similar acronyms) by some, Microsoft has labeled its offering as “Cloud PC” as in “Windows 365 is your PC in the cloud”.

“Just as applications moved to the cloud with SaaS, we are now bringing the operating system to the cloud, giving organizations greater flexibility and a secure way to enable their staff to be more productive and connected. , regardless of location, ”Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in a statement.

While DaaS in general, and Windows 365 in particular, has the potential to radically change the way IT plays out in business environments, there is nothing inevitable about it. Many will oppose ceding the confidentiality of a local box to the servers of, in this case, Microsoft, for example.

And Microsoft, already active in making PCs with its Surface line – initially billed as examples for OEMs, something that was dismissed as a topic of discussion – clashes with hardware partners with Windows 365. When the desktop is broadcast, what good is a laptop in the lap of high power? Will OEMs be relegated to making cheap Chromebook-like machines that only need to run a browser?

Windows 365 is truly a developing story, as Microsoft has promised to elaborate as launch approaches in early August. But we have put together a first set of questions and answers.

What is Windows 365?

In its simplest form, it is a virtualization service that provides Windows desktop and proprietary and third-party applications to users with both PC and non-PC hardware.

Maybe it’s better to think of it as a streaming service. Rather than streaming movies and TV shows, it streams the output of a Windows 10 or, when available, a PC running Windows 11. The controller is the keyboard, the touchscreen, the mouse or even the microphone of any device in front of the user.

It is also the last incarnation of the light calculation model, reminiscent of the beginnings of digital computing when the computer was huge and cost several millions – and terminals were unintelligent terminals. Like this model, Windows 365 runs the virtual desktop on remote servers; data is transferred over the Internet rather than over an organization’s network.

When will Windows 365 launch?

Microsoft says it expects Windows 365 on August 2.

It’s for business. It’s likely that Microsoft will offer the service to consumers and very small stores – individual businesses, say – at some point. But that won’t happen right off the bat.

How much will Windows 365 cost?

We don’t know because that’s one of the details Microsoft has been hiding.

Here’s what we know: Microsoft will charge a fixed monthly rate per user, rather than basing the cost on the amount of activity, such as the amount of Azure resources consumed.

Microsoft has listed ten possible virtual machine configurations, from the most basic (2 cores, 4 GB of memory and 64 GB of storage) to the most advanced (8 cores, 32 GB of RAM and 512 GB of storage space). The price for these setups will almost certainly go from low to high.

Although Microsoft has listed 12 configurations, it has put them together into just 5 groups. It is therefore possible that there are only 5 different prices for Windows 365 licenses.

A price index came from The edge‘s Tom warren, who spotted a cost of $ 31 per user per month for the 2-core, 4GB, and 128GB storage option. That would be $ 372 per year. Ouch.

So we keep paying for, say, Microsoft 365 E3 and Windows 365 licenses? Isn’t that a double billing?

No, although it’s easy to see it that way.

The Microsoft 365 license gives you the right to use the software included, from this collection Windows 10 (and later, Windows 11). The Windows 365 license pays for the Virtual pc Microsoft is built and Microsoft maintains on its servers that Classes the operating system you paid for.

It’s no different than if you were on a physical PC. You paid for this with one invoice. You paid for the Microsoft 365 license with another.

Part of the problem, as we see, is Microsoft’s belief that anything possible should be blocked with the 365 suffix. Office first, then Microsoft and now Windows. Sweetheart. There is going to be endless confusion between these terms, especially Microsoft 365 and Windows 365, because for many Windows = Microsoft and vice versa.

What are the prerequisites for running Windows 365?

If their number is not legion, they are numerous. Conveniently, they fall into two categories: Licenses and Others.

What are the license conditions?

Remember, you asked for this.

  • On Windows Pro terminals: Windows 10 Enterprise E3 + EMS E3; or Microsoft 365 F3, E3, E5 or BP (Business Premium);
  • On non-Windows Pro endpoints: Windows VDA E3 + EMS E3; or Microsoft 365 F3, E3, F5 or BP (Business Premium).

We also need to know about other non-license requirements. What are they?

Again, from Microsoft’s mouth they are:

  • Azure subscription
  • Virtual network (vNET) in Azure subscription
  • Hybrid Azure Active Directory (AAD) enabled for join

Will Windows 365 only run Windows 10?

Nope. Microsoft has made it clear that where 10 goes, Windows 11 will follow.

It’s safe to assume that “Cloud PCs” running Windows 10 – Microsoft’s name for virtualized desktops – will be supported until the end of the operating system lifecycle, which has been set for October. 2025. It is also a gift that organizations will be able to simultaneously run virtual PCs powered by 10 and 11 in their environments.

Who manages virtual machines, installs monthly security updates, and handles feature upgrades?

Good question.

Microsoft certainly could, since the “devices” are on their servers. And for some cases, say if or when Microsoft is opening this concept to Windows 10 Home / Windows 11 Home owners, maybe that’s how it will work.

But at the same time Computer world Could not find any clear evidence one way or another, we believe customers will continue to be responsible for updating maintenance. And it is as it should be. There’s no easier way to make IT scream than to take control of an organization’s technology out of their hands.

The clues lie in the frequent reference to Microsoft’s tools for managing physical systems and how they will fulfill the same roles for cloud PCs. “IT can easily procure, deploy and manage cloud PCs for their organization, just as they manage physical PCs through Microsoft Endpoint Manager,” the company promised in its statement on the program.

What powers Windows 365?

Not surprisingly, Microsoft’s own cloud computing platform, Azure. Specifically, Azure Virtual Desktop (called Windows Virtual Desktop until June), which can be used to create Windows virtual machines on Redmond’s servers and then stream those desktops to PC and non-PC devices.

Windows 365, Microsoft has repeatedly said, is essentially an automated Azure virtual desktop, in that the first one handled all the finishing work of creating and assigning virtual machines, applied an analysis package on the result and offered a single dashboard for administrators.

Elsewhere, Microsoft has characterized Windows 365 as a way for administrators unfamiliar with virtualization (or hesitant to learn) to call Azure Virtual Desktop.

What devices can we run these virtual desktops on?

Microsoft hasn’t released a declarative list, but in its many thoughts on Windows 365, it’s mentioned everything from PCs running Windows 10 and 11, to Macs (including, it must be assumed, those with native silicon. Apple) and Linux machines to iPhones, iPads and Android devices. Presumably, Chromebooks will be out there somewhere as well.

Any device capable of running a web browser must be able to act as a Windows 365 endpoint; in-browser is one of the two ways to distribute a desktop. The other? Via existing Microsoft Remote Desktop for iOS and Android.

What type of internet connection will we need for Windows 365?

Microsoft was not specific.

What he was saying was intentionally vague. “If you can stream a movie, you have enough bandwidth for a great experience,” said Scott Manchester, director of program management for Windows 365, in a video released by Microsoft on Wednesday. (Manchester was the very public face of the early days of Windows 365.)

What resolution would our first question be? And what’s gonna be annoying to see your pc put up maddeningly buffering icon when your connection speed is not sufficient?

Hoping Microsoft is specific before or during the August 2 launch.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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