On July 14, 2021, Microsoft officially launched Windows 365 Cloud PC as its new desktop as a service (DaaS) offer – although the publisher itself has avoided labeling it as such. Instead, chairman and CEO Satya Nadella has claimed W365 constitutes a “new category” of hybrid computing, and some experts have compared this approach to how Apple defined the tablet and smartphone markets. Observers are divided on the hypotheticals and reality of this launch, but as of the time of this writing demand is already far exceeding even Microsoft’s expectations.
So, what does the arrival of Windows 365 mean for your business? Potentially a lot, as does the genesis of “Cloud PC” as Microsoft terms it, and although it is not necessarily a new concept there is still much that can be gained for organizations having a hard time capturing scalability.
Here is what you need to know about Windows 365 Cloud PC and desktop as a service:
What is Windows 365?
Put simply, W365 will allow you to load in your desktop computer environment onto any device from anywhere, including laptops, tablets and smartphones. Beyond just the mobility and flexibility this allows, it also lets you scale up your resource usage without having to increase your local hardware capacity. In laymen’s terms, you can capture the capabilities of a high-end, ultra-powered PC on your local machine without needing a server farm to run it, or to store all of the data you would generate.
Defining DaaS, VDI and Cloud PC
To define what exactly Microsoft means by “Cloud PC,” it helps to outline the concepts of DaaS, virtualization and a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). VDI and desktop as a service are also very similar in practice, but the difference between each lies primarily in deployment, management and control over resources. The former – as the name implies – requires you to deploy an entire infrastructure which your in-house IT team controls, while the latter is closer to software as a service (SaaS) that is loaded in and managed remotely by a service provider.
Desktop as a Streaming Service
Windows 365 has been compared conceptually to streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, which are actually SaaS deployments that deliver video media over the cloud. Your desktop will load into your device of choice just as your favorite movies and TV shows are, without having to download every byte of the operating system or the data it holds, or upgrade your hardware to be able to process and play those larger video files. Just as those subscriptions provide a convenient way to consume content without needing to invest in significant infrastructure and storage (i.e., a literal home theater with thousands of DVDs), W365 removes the need for server farms and static PC tower-based workstations.
Azure Virtual Desktop VS Windows 365
Given that Microsoft already markets Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD) as its VDI offering, how the publisher is positioning Windows 365 alongside this existing product reflects how they envision the Cloud PC category. In a side-by-side comparison, AVD is presented as providing “flexibility” to customers while W365 delivers “simplicity,” which speaks to the core benefit of DaaS over a virtual infrastructure. A desktop delivered as a service over a remote connection consolidates or removes many of the burdens associated with deploying a new computer, especially with the elimination of strict hardware needs, and the only hurdle for scalability is purchasing more resources.
Windows 365 Cloud PC Pricing and Why It Matters
There seems to be almost as many price ranges quoted for Windows 365 as there are differing opinions on where they lie – some observers portray it as surprisingly affordable while others rant about the service being overpriced for what it provides. This significant gap between impressions reflects both the complexity of the product and the general unfamiliarity with what it achieves. Why the cost of W365 matters to your business, besides just a cursory browsing, is because the ROI considerably depends on your needs and your growth objectives.
Microsoft’s official price listing for Windows 365 is on par with many competing VDI services, but therein lies the big difference – while virtual desktop infrastructure costs never just include initial pricing, Cloud PC is being positioned as a clear upfront investment. You decide what to pay when you choose your level of resources and service, from processing power to storage, and there will not be any additional fees from Microsoft for setting up and deploying the architecture to run it.
Hybrid Work from Home and Computing
It is important to note that Windows 365 is also being positioned in direct response to the “new normal” and “next normal,” with Microsoft acknowledging the transformations of both traditional in-person and remote work to a middle ground with the easing of social distancing in some areas. This “hybrid work” requires “hybrid personal computing” that W365 answers with the ability to deploy on any device while still capturing the same functionality, productivity and security users expect from their desktop.
Potential Benefits of Windows 365
There are quite a few potential benefits for Windows 365 Cloud PC, including:
- Increase Resource Capacity On-demand
Without the hardware limitations of traditional deployments or the infrastructure requirements of VDI, your desktop delivered as a service has theoretically unlimited scalability. Most importantly, the processing capacity of an individual device is no longer a ceiling as you can simply load in your W365 instance armed with significantly more CPU power on any other personal computer, tablet or smartphone.
- Automate Technology and Compliance Updates
Your system will be kept up to date by the managed service team in the background, eliminating downtime to perform complex upgrades to improve the technology and retool compliance features. You no longer have to stay on top of every regulatory change to prevent nonconformance from appearing in an overlooked database.
- Prevent Local Ransomware Infections from Spreading
Ransomware actively tries to spread across a network from one entry point, exploiting weak links in the chain with social engineering attacks against unsuspecting employees that carry access to deeper gateways. However, Windows 365 is protected by both tools such as Microsoft Defender and a managed service team who have the resources, expertise and bandwidth to focus more exclusively on intrusion monitoring.
- Consolidate Data and Apps for Remote Workers, Contractors, Etc.
Taking the cloud capabilities of Microsoft 365 to the next level, Windows DaaS will let you provide full, secure access to your Office 365 apps and data to remote workers, contractors and subcontractors, and interns alike. While Office Online lets interact with much of the same in a browser, there can be a loss of functionality, access, or both for these external parties, and you have no other way to guarantee them the same processing power and storage space with BYOD (bring your own device).
- Leverage Simplified Virtualization Pricing
It is worth mentioning Windows 365 pricing again because of how unprecedented it is in the computing market, where similar services can mount tens of thousands of dollars in licensing, resource usage and more to deploy. W365 grants you a simplified cost model that gives you more visibility into what you are paying for upfront.
Contact SWK Technologies to Learn More About W365
SWK Technologies is a Gold Microsoft Partner and award-winning managed service provider, as well as a software and cloud solutions expert – we will leverage this knowledge and expertise to help you determine if Windows 365 is right for you. Reach out to us ASAP to discover more of the benefits – and potential pitfalls – of W365, and see how it may fit with your current needs for hybrid work.
Contact SWK here to learn more about Windows 365 Cloud PC and the advantages of desktop as a service.