Introducing a new era of hybrid personal computing: the Windows 365 Cloud PC

By Wangui McKelvey, General Manager, Microsoft 365 on 14 July 2021

As some regions begin to make their way out of the challenges and disruption of the past 18 months, we’re seeing a new world of work emerge. Organizations everywhere have transformed themselves through virtual processes and remote collaboration. And as people embrace hybrid work—with people returning to the office, continuing to work from home, or some mix of the two—things will be different all over again.

The ability to work whenever, however, and wherever it’s needed has become the new normal. All employees want technology that’s familiar, easy to use, and available across devices. And in the most complex cybersecurity environment we’ve ever seen, businesses need a solution that helps their employees collaborate, share, and create while also keeping their data safe and secure.

We have an opportunity to design the tools that will empower this new world of hybrid work with a new perspective—and the power and security of the cloud.

Today we’re excited to announce Windows 365, a cloud service that introduces a new way to experience Windows 10 or Windows 11 (when it’s generally available later this calendar year) for workers from interns and contractors to software developers and industrial designers. Windows 365 takes the operating system to the Microsoft Cloud, securely streaming the full Windows experience—including all your apps, data, and settings—to your personal or corporate devices. This approach creates a fully new personal computing category, specifically for the hybrid world: the Cloud PC.

Today I’d like to share with you why we think bringing the cloud revolution to personal computing will be such a milestone for how customers work in the future and the opportunities this will create for our partners.

A powerful, personalized, full Windows experience in the cloud on any device

Our recent Work Trend Index found that 73 percent of workers want flexible remote work options to stay, but at the same time, 67 percent say they also want more in-person collaboration, post-pandemic. This creates the hybrid work paradox, leaving organizations around the world to grapple with how to connect in a hybrid world and provide workers access to organizational resources at home, in the office, and at all points between.

Much like how we’ve embraced the cloud for other products, our vision for a Windows 365 Cloud PC is to deliver a new way to experience Windows through the power of the cloud—while solving both novel and traditional challenges for organizations. This new paradigm isn’t just about allowing and securing remote access. The user experience is more important than ever for attracting and retaining talent, improving productivity, and ensuring security.

The Cloud PC draws on the power of the cloud and the capabilities of the device to provide a powerful, simple, and secure full Windows 10 or Windows 11 experience that you can use to empower your workforce, regardless of location or device. Windows 365 provides an instant-on boot experience that enables users to stream all their personalized applications, tools, data, and settings from the cloud across any device including your Mac, iPad, Linux device, and Android. The Windows experience is consistent, no matter the device. You can pick up right where you left off, because the state of your Cloud PC remains the same, even when you switch devices. You can get the same work done on a laptop in a hotel room, a tablet from their car between appointments, or your desktop while you’re in the office. Seasonal workers also can ramp on and off according to the needs of the business, allowing the organization to scale for busy periods without the complicated logistical and security challenges of issuing new hardware. Further, companies can be more targeted in how they outfit specialized workers in creative, analytics, engineering, or scientific roles who need greater compute power and access to critical applications.

Windows 365 supports your business apps—Microsoft 365, Microsoft Dynamics 365, Microsoft Power Platform—line of business apps, and more. With Windows 365, we also stand by our promise of app compatibility with App Assure, a service that helps customers with 150 or more users fix any app issues they might run into at no additional cost.

Greater simplicity with familiar tools

One of the most important design principles of Windows 365 is simplicity. You can choose the size of the Cloud PC that best meets your needs with per user per month pricing. Organizations have two edition options that include a complete cloud-based offering with multiple Cloud PC configurations based on performance needs: Windows 365 Business and Windows 365 Enterprise.

For IT, we built Windows 365 to be consistent with how you manage your physical devices now. Your Cloud PCs show up right alongside your physical devices in Microsoft Endpoint Manager, and you can apply management and security policies to them just as you do to all your other devices.

Windows 365 is built on Azure Virtual Desktop, but it simplifies the virtualization experience—handling all the details for you. You can scale processing power and monitor the performance of the Cloud PC to make sure your users are getting the best experience. We’ve also built analytics into the service to look at connection health across networks to make sure your Cloud PC users can reach everything they need on your network to be productive. From the Endpoint Analytics dashboard, you can easily identify the Cloud PC environments that are not delivering the performance needs of a given user, and not only can you get recommendations, but you can also upgrade them at the touch of a button, which is immediately applied without missing a beat. Our new Watchdog Service also continually runs diagnostics to help to keep connections up-and-running at all times. If a diagnostic check fails, we’ll alert you and even give suggestions for how to correct the issue.

For greater customization and flexibility, especially if your organization has virtualization expertise, we recommend Azure Virtual Desktop, which continues to see significant adoption as organizations modernize VDI in the cloud.

Cloud security powered by Zero Trust

With a focus on a Zero Trust architecture, Windows 365 also helps solve for today’s critical security challenges by design, storing and securing information in the cloud, not on the device. Multifactor authentication (MFA) works to explicitly verify any login or access attempt to a Cloud PC through integration with Microsoft Azure Active Directory (Azure AD). And within Microsoft Endpoint Manager, you can pair MFA with dedicated Windows 365 conditional access policies to assess login risk instantly for each session. We’ve also designed the user and admin experiences around the principle of least privileged access. For example, you can delegate specific permissions, like licensing, device management, and Cloud PC management using specific roles, so you don’t need to be a global administrator. You can use the security baselines for Windows 10, Microsoft Defender for Endpoint, and Microsoft Edge, just like you would for your physical devices now, and we’ve built a cloud PC-specific security baseline to help you get started quickly.

If you use Microsoft Defender for Endpoint to protect your devices, it also works seamlessly with your Cloud PCs. You can use Microsoft Endpoint Manager to quickly onboard your Cloud PCs just like your other devices with Defender for Endpoint. It not only protects your Cloud PCs, but also gives you security recommendations to lower risks, and helps you quickly discover and investigate any security incidents.

Finally, encryption is used across the board. All managed disks running Cloud PCs are encrypted, all stored data is encrypted at rest, and all network traffic to and from your Cloud PCs is also encrypted.

Hybrid Windows for a hybrid world

We believe this will give organizations of all sizes the power, simplicity, and security you need to address the changing needs of your workforce as you embrace hybrid work.

Buy Windows 365 from Crimson Line

With Crimson Line as your Cloud Solutions Partner, you can buy Windows 365 through us, knowing that as a Gold Microsoft Managed Partner, we’ll be able to answer all your questions and assist you whenever you get stuck. With the evolution of IT, we can all do with some expert guidance every now and again.

For information on pricing and general information, contact Crimson Line’s sales force on sales@crimsonline.co.za or 086 111 4496.