Windows365 – What we know so far


Introduction

Microsoft announced the Windows 365 Cloud PC on the 14th of July 2021 at Microsoft Inspire 2021. Windows 365, also known as the cloud PC is a new cloud service that introduces a new world of working and experience using Windows 10/11. Windows365 takes the traditional PC operating system to the cloud. This is the full experience of apps, data and settings to your Personal or corporate devices.

It has long been known that you can deliver a desktop experience to users using Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, and recent strides in the cloud era have presented new technologies and capabilities like Azure Virtual Desktop. So what is the fundamental difference between Windows 365 and Azure Virtual Desktop? Let’s just say this article goes into the details between the two.

Windows 365, your Cloud PC | What it is, how it works, and how to set it up
image representing a cloud desktop being streamed to a physical client.

What is Windows 365, aka Cloud PC

The Cloud PC (Windows 365) is a new saas based service from Microsoft that allows you to roam all your settings to a cloud PC from your traditional physical windows device. You would expect to see Desktop, wallpapers, favourites, browser history, etc, roaming between these devices.


The cloud PC is a persistent Windows PC that is always connected. This means the cloud PC can be accessed 24/7. This is effectively a personal pc centralised and supported in the cloud as a SaaS offering.

Costs

Azure Virtual Desktop provides access to Virtual Desktops through Microsoft Azure using a control plane and the consumption of virtual machines within a subscription. The cost of this service is based on resource consumption within Microsoft Azure.

Windows365 cost model is a fixed price per named user per month. Costs are based on size and performance. This means that you can control costs more stringently compared to consumption model billing. This looks like an excellent option for those organisations that have tight IT budgets. Interestingly, after speaking with businesses, it was noted that some would like to mix both cloud desktops and Azure Virtual Desktop. One example is delivering apps to the Cloud PC via Azure Virtual Desktop Remote apps.

Pricing has not been officially confirmed; however, the following lists the release Cloud PC specs:

VM / OS disk sizeExample scenariosRecommended apps
1vCPU / 2GB / 64GBFrontline workers, Call centers, Education/training/CRM access.Office light (web-based), Microsoft Edge, OneDrive, lightweight line-of-business app (e.g. call center application – web-apps), Defender support.
2vCPU / 4GB / 256GB 2vCPU / 4GB / 128GB 2vCPU / 4GB / 64GBMergers and acquisition, Short-term and seasonal, Customer Services, Bring-Your-Own-PC, Work from homeMicrosoft 365 Apps, Microsoft Teams (audio-only), Outlook, Excel, PowerPoint, OneDrive, Adobe Reader, Edge, Line-of-business app(s) , Defender support. 
2vCPU / 8GB / 256GB 2vCPU / 8GB / 128GBBring-Your-Own-PC, Work from home, Market Researchers, Government, consultantsMicrosoft 365 Apps, Microsoft Teams, Outlook, Excel, Access, PowerPoint, OneDrive, Adobe Reader, Edge, Line-of-business app(s) , Defender support.
4vCPU / 16GB / 512GB 4vCPU / 16GB / 256GB 4vCPU / 16GB / 128GBFinance, Government, consultants, Healthcare services, Bring-Your-Own-PC, Work from homeMicrosoft 365 Apps, Microsoft Teams, Outlook, Excel, Access, PowerPoint, PowerBi, Dynamics 365, OneDrive, Adobe Reader, Edge, Line-of-business app(s), Defender support.
8vCPU / 32GB / 512GB 8vCPU / 32GB / 256GB 8vCPU / 32GB / 128GBSoftware developers, engineers, Content Creators, Design and Engineering workstationsMicrosoft 365 Apps, Microsoft Teams, Outlook, Access, OneDrive, Adobe Reader, Edge, PowerBi, Visual Studio Code, Line-of-business app(s), Defender support.

Taken from https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/windows-it-pro-blog/get-started-with-windows-365/ba-p/2530504

Differences between Azure Virtual Desktop and Windows 365 Cloud PC (Enterprise)

Let us take a look at the specific differences between Azure Virtual Desktop and the Windows 365 cloud PC:

Azure Virtual DesktopWindows 365 Cloud PC (Enterprise)
Cloud VDI SolutionSaaS Solution
Windows 10 Single Session & Multi-Session Desktops and Remote AppsWindows 10 Single Session
Full control over management and deployment (?) – You can use whichever tool you want (SCCM/Intune/Third-party)?Simplified/ SAS Management only with MEM Intune
Citrix, VMWare integration NA
Consumption-Based PricingPer-user pricing
FlexibilitySimplicity

Taken from: New ways to deliver a secure hybrid workplace with Azure Virtual Desktop and Windows 365 – Microsoft Tech Community

Technical Requirements


You will need one of the following licences to be able to use the Cloud PC (enterprise Version):

  • Users with Windows Pro endpoints: Windows 10 Enterprise E3 + EMS E3 or Microsoft 365 F3/E3/E5/BP
  • Users w/non-Windows Pro endpoints: Windows VDA E3 + EMS E3 or Microsoft 365 F3/E3/F5/BP

You will need the following Azure and other MS services;

  • Azure Subscription
  • A Virtual Network (vNET) in the chosen Azure Subscription. You can still use Network Virtual Appliances which offer Endpoint Detection and response capabilities.
  • Azure vNET Virtual Network must route to the DNS to resolve Active Directory records (no change here)
  • AD must sync with Azure AD to provide hybrid Identity in Azure AD
  • Microsoft Intune supported licences like Microsoft 365 E3

Supported Clients:

The following table shows the supported clients that you can use Cloud PC on:

 
Windows desktop
Store clientAndroidiOS/iPadOSmacOSWeb
KeyboardXXXXXX
MouseXXXX*XX
TouchXXXX X
Serial portX     
USBX     
Teams AV RedirectionX     
Multi-media redirectionComing soon     
Multi-monitor16 monitors     
Dynamic resolutionXX  XX
Screen capture protectionX     
CamerasX XXX 
Start menu integrationX     
ClipboardXXTextText, imagesXtext
Local drive/storageX XXX 
AccessibilityX     
LocationX     
MicrophonesXXComing soonXXIn preview
PrintersX   X (CUPS only)PDF print
ScannersX     
Smart CardsX   X 
SpeakersXXXXXX

Taken from: Get started with Windows 365 – Microsoft Tech Community

Demo

Video from Microsoft Mechanics with Scott Manchester demoing Windows365

Useful Links:

API access to configure integration:

cloudPC resource type – Microsoft Graph beta | Microsoft Docs

Tech specs and configuration guide for requirements:

Get started with Windows 365 – Microsoft Tech Community

Media link:

Microsoft puts PCs in the cloud with Windows 365 – The Verge

Feature requests link:

https://aka.ms/CommunityIdeas/Windows365

ISVs:

Initial ISV solutions for Windows 365 – Microsoft Tech Community

Windows365 lab steps:

Interactive Windows365 Demo

Interactive Demo (azureedge.net)

FAQ

How do you backup files, apps and other data?

The use of Microsoft OneDrive will take care of all requires files as used today on other platforms. You can Also use Winget to export the list of applications so that if you do need to build fresh, you can use the import feature in Winget to restore apps.

There are third parties out there that you can use to back up the cloud PC to a Virtual Hard disk.

Can you use MSIX app attach ?

You can use the built-in apis offered by the windows Operating system to deliver apps using MSIX app attach. However you would need to use third-party products to deliver this.

Can you still access corporate networks ?

Enterprise uses the Azure Virtual Network making it easy to add connectivity to office locations. However, if you are using the business version, you would most likely need an SSL VPN product or the point to site VPN feature offered in Azure Connect to a VNet using P2S VPN & certificate authentication: portal – Azure VPN Gateway | Microsoft Docs

What about performance, Azure Virtual Desktop still does fully support UDP apart from shortpath?

Its understood at the time of writing, connectivity to the cloud PC is via TCP. Details on this are still unknown.

GPU Support?

UPD Update – its coming soon:

Can you configure user profiles?

Windows 365 uses traditional Profiles as you would do on a normal physical device.

Can you use Active directory with Cloud PC (Windows 365) ?

For the business version of cloud pc, only Azure AD join is supported. So you cannot use AD DS as an option.

For the Enterprise version, you can use Hybrid AD Join and Azure Active Directory Domain Services is not supported.

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