Implementing Microsoft Security Zero Trust Without Slowing Things Down

Providing employees with the possibility of working remotely is fast becoming a very attractive option for many organizations. By making use of this solution, businesses can widen the talent pool available to them and thereby increase productivity.

However, businesses still have to deal with a significantly increased cybersecurity risk. This is why a solution like Microsoft Security’s Zero Trust approach can be immeasurably beneficial to your organization.

With this solution, all individuals as well as every device will be thoroughly verified. The issue that some may have, however, is if this technology will slow operations down.

Key benefits

Before deciding whether or not Microsoft Security Zero Trust is something that you need, it’s important to know exactly what is on offer. The Zero Trust model is designed to enable a strict evaluation of all access controls.

It works under the assumption that attacks can come from anywhere, including from within the network. Therefore, all users and devices that want access to the network must be authenticated, and each access request must be authorized and encrypted.

You’ll also find several preventive measures in place such as multi-factor authentication (MFA) that requires users to confirm their credibility using at least two forms of evidence.

Another way that will better secure the network is restricting the access of users to only what is strictly necessary. Also, by using micro-segmentation you can separate the network into zones meaning that even in the event of an attack, any damage will be limited to a particular zone.

Furthermore, real-time monitoring will enable swift detection of potential threats and immediate implementation of remediation measures. This helps to quickly address any issues after the initial breach before there is a chance to spread throughout the network.

In addition, arguably what makes the Microsoft Security Zero Trust model this good is the ability to integrate into a broader security strategy that can address an organization’s needs and compliance requirements.

Considerations

If you have decided to implement the Zero Trust security model with Azure to protect cloud assets, infrastructure, and users, there are a few things you will need to consider:

  • Identities – you need to establish an identity management governance framework to determine authentication methods and access controls.
  • Endpoints – all devices should be properly authenticated and kept under continuous monitoring.
  • Applications – on-prem, hybrid, and cloud-native apps, as well as APIs, will require the necessary access controls and protections.
  • Data – strict protocols should be in place to secure both business and customer data.
  • Infrastructure – any security issues need to be swiftly addressed especially those to do with legacy infrastructure.
  • Networks – end-to-end encryption, traffic monitoring, and analysis are crucial to maintaining a high level of network security.

Implementation

The actual implementation of the Microsoft Security Zero Trust model is a journey. This means that you don’t have to worry about a time-consuming, complete overhaul of your existing architecture. You can carry out the process in stages thus enabling everyone from IT to end-users sufficient time to familiarize themselves with the technology.

To protect your most vulnerable assets and users, you can start with specific apps, data assets, or classes of users. In addition, Microsoft Security Zero Trust allows you to leverage existing solutions to avoid slowing you down and to make the process more seamless and less costly.

Working effectively

Keeping things working smoothly is what any organization needs to operate at maximum productivity levels. So any security solution that you employ must not affect that. Zero Trust aims to fit seamlessly into how organizations function without causing disruptions.

This is evident in the quick and automated responses that help to contain access to corporate data in case of a breach. Another feature that helps to keep things moving along is having all the policy controls in place before the data is accessed.

Also, all apps will be properly configured and kept up-to-date to enable your organization to function with little to no disruption.

Identity management

As most people are aware by now, passwords are one of the weakest links in security today. That’s before we even look at the challenges users face with having good passwords for multiple accounts.

However, with passwordless authentication, which is now generally available for cloud and hybrid environments, you can eliminate that problem. Azure AD can make the process of signing in quicker and far more secure. This can be done through the use of:

  • biometrics,
  • a tap using Windows Hello for Business,
  • the Microsoft Authenticator app,
  • a compatible FIDO2 security key from Microsoft Intelligent Security Association partners such as Yubico, Feitian, and AuthenTrend.

Simplifying complexities

Dealing with the often extremely complex security solutions that are currently available can be a difficult and time-consuming task. The Microsoft Security Zero Trust approach is committed to addressing those complexities using integrated solutions that focus on the key issues.

Unlike other solutions, Microsoft wants to take a holistic approach by combining Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) tools and extended detection and response (XDR) tools. These tools, which will be developed in the cloud, will significantly enhance your posture, protection, and response.

So rather than slow you down, in this instance, these tools will actually improve operational efficiency and speed.

Wrap up

The recent spate of security breaches is clear enough evidence that organizations cannot ignore the reality. Businesses are at risk, from both external and internal threat actors. Hence the need for a Zero Trust approach. A solution that aims to verify all users and devices.

The benefits of leveraging this solution are plenty and reducing downtime, data breaches, and compliance failures are key among them.

You may not necessarily have to overhaul your security strategy but to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of your IT assets, then Microsoft Security’s Zero Trust model is one that you should look at integrating.

Microsoft Is Launching A New Intune Suite

Endpoint management is critical to the way that organizations can utilize and safeguard their resources. By using endpoint management solutions, IT teams can identify, monitor, and control the level of access that end users have to corporate resources.

Doing so enables IT professionals to improve the security of corporate data and significantly reduce the risk of security breaches. The importance cannot be overstated especially now when some research suggests that as a direct result of the pandemic there has been a 600% rise in cybercrime.

This is why Microsoft is looking to make changes to its array of endpoint management solutions to better cater to the needs of all organizations.

Recent developments

Microsoft has been working on improvements for endpoint management to strengthen corporate data security and increase efficiency. To that end, the company has just announced that a new suite of advanced endpoint management solutions will be launched in March 2023 together in one, cost-effective plan. This new plan has several benefits that will be offered to clients.

IT is going to be equipped with products that will improve endpoint management and also offer increased security to your hybrid workforce. This is ultimately going to deliver a better overall experience across your organization as well as increased operational efficiency. This new development is something that Microsoft had already talked about earlier this year.

The journey towards a bundled suite of advanced endpoint management solutions began with the rolling out of Remote Help for Windows. By using this service, the process of getting assistance for users on Windows devices is made easier.

Because of the integration with Microsoft Endpoint Manager, remote assistance can be rendered to managed devices. It also integrates with Azure AD ensuring that authentication and compliance information can be provided.

According to the announcement by Microsoft, in addition to Remote Help, this new bundled plan which will be introduced in March 2023 will also bring together Microsoft Tunnel for Mobile App Management, Endpoint Privilege Management, advanced endpoint analytics capabilities, and more advanced management capabilities in Microsoft Intune.         

Changes are coming

There was plenty to talk about at the Microsoft Ignite 2022 but one of the key areas would have been undoubtedly to do with Microsoft Endpoint Manager. As you would have noticed by now we are talking about a new Intune suite.

And that is because Microsoft announced that going forward the Microsoft Endpoint Manager brand will be replaced by Microsoft Intune. This change is not one for the future but something that has already been implemented. If you head over to the Microsoft Endpoint Manager landing page, you’ll notice that the name Microsoft Intune has already taken over.

It would appear that as far as endpoint management development is concerned, Microsoft is looking to place greater focus on cloud services. However, it’s worth noting that Intune, Configuration Manager, and the Co-management capability will still be retained. But, Microsoft Intune will be taking over as the main platform with regard to future development. Microsoft said in its announcement:

“Today, we’re announcing that Microsoft Intune will be the name of the growing product family for all things endpoint management at Microsoft…. The name Microsoft Endpoint Manager will no longer be used. Going forward, we’ll refer to cloud management as Microsoft Intune and on-premises management as Microsoft Configuration Manager.”    

Embracing the cloud

Although cloud-based services come with plenty of well-known benefits, it’s not everyone who has adopted the cloud approach. This is why Configuration Manager is still available to allow organizations to operate the way they want.

However, Microsoft continues to try and encourage migration to the cloud. And the cloud attach capability is one that is being talked about as something that could help facilitate the transition to the cloud. Most are already familiar with co-management and tenant attach so what exactly is cloud attach?

Cloud attach is a capability that allows for the enabling of both co-management and tenant attach. If your organization uses Configuration Manager, this gives you a way to have even more flexibility in managing endpoints without having to choose between security, compliance, and supporting new work realities.

Explaining the vision   

Inevitably, a lot of people will be rightly wondering why Microsoft is moving in this direction. Why the need for a suite of advanced solutions for endpoint management? Well, the answer is pretty simple.

When it comes to endpoint management, Microsoft is the biggest player in the game and so there is a need to continuously improve the services on offer. The countless millions of managed devices that Microsoft is responsible for require solutions that adapt to the changing environment.

As already mentioned above, cybercrime has shot up at alarming levels in recent years so endpoint management solutions need to strive to stay ahead of the threats. Microsoft has received a lot of feedback from CTOs in recent years explaining how the needs of hybrid work are changing and thus organizations are having to combine security solutions from different providers to meet the security needs of their operations. As one would expect, this complicates life for IT staff and potentially adds massive costs to your overall expenditure.

This obviously will not go down well with management and corporate security may end up suffering if the organization fails to meet the skyrocketing costs of the necessary solutions. IT departments may need to cut corners and put in place temporary measures just to try and keep operations running.

Most would probably agree that this is not an ideal scenario and is a very tedious way of operating. So the announcement by Microsoft to introduce a bundled suite of advanced endpoint management solutions comes as welcome news. Clients can get a more comprehensive solution that can do what they currently need multiple products to do.

Enhancing endpoint management

The new Intune suite has been designed to allow organizations to bring together in one place all the tools they need for securing their corporate data as well as managing their endpoints. In addition, this combined service will eliminate the risks of local admin users and give clients access to remote assistance. Not to mention that IT will be thrilled to see an improvement in the health and performance of Windows endpoints. The capabilities that we’ll discuss below will potentially change your IT environment for the better.

  • Remote Help for Windows and Android       

As I mentioned earlier, the initial version of Remote Help for Windows was launched in April of this year. So what we can expect with the March 2023 release is that it will add enhancements to the Windows experience as part of the advanced management suite. The capabilities you will get include things such as ServiceNow integration that helps to provide service management incident information to Intune so that users’ technology issues can get a swift resolution.

Clients will also benefit from an improved messaging platform that should simplify the process of viewing the reasons for device noncompliance as well as how the IT Helpdesk staff can hear the audio from the users who require remote assistance. Furthermore, there is going to be enhanced elevation that will provide for quicker resolution of issues that require alternate admin credentials because of the interaction with the User Account Control prompt.

Microsoft will also be looking to introduce support for Android. The addition of this capability will enable admins to serve their Frontline workers remotely with greater ease. This will offer a massive advantage to Android users because they can have any issues resolved a lot quicker. Admins can contact these users (who can also contact admins themselves), remotely diagnose the issue, and collaborate with the user to find a solution to the problem allowing the user to quickly get back to work.

  • Endpoint Privilege Management

This is something that beginning in early 2023 Microsoft will be offering in public preview to clients with Microsoft Intune subscriptions. What this service will do is help you to automate and manage when workers have permission to use admin privilege for specific tasks on both Windows cloud-connected and co-managed endpoints.

According to Microsoft, by using Endpoint Privilege Management you’ll be able to give your users standard account privileges and no longer make them local admins. With the use of these standard account privileges, users can be dynamically elevated to admin privilege for specific admin-approved tasks, based on the specific policies of your organization.

The advantage here is twofold. On one end, the organization will have a significant improvement in its security posture, and on the other end, users can become more productive. The objective is to ensure that IT admins have all the necessary tools to furnish employees of the organization with the capability to self-serve if and when the need arises.

To maintain a high level of security, this needs to follow Zero Trust principles hence the need for least privileged access. Furthermore, Endpoint Privilege Management is going to allow your organization to define the rules and parameters in Intune to configure a standard user’s permissions to be automatically elevated, be self-managed, or set to require authorization.

This is something that is going to impact operational efficiency massively by enabling users to perform tasks securely. These tasks can include actions such as adding approved apps, printers, or other peripheral devices, and all of this without the assistance of the IT helpdesk. Intune Endpoint Privilege Management will become generally available as part of the suite of advanced endpoint management solutions as well as be available as an individual add-on to your Intune subscription.

  • Microsoft Tunnel for Mobile Application Management

Microsoft Tunnel for Mobile Application Management (MAM) is a great service that is designed to bring convenience to end-users. In an era where employees are often carrying multiple devices to separate the personal from the professional, this feature will allow employees to use just a single device.

The beauty of the service is that there is no enrolment necessary but corporate data will remain secure without end-users having to hand over control of their personal devices to IT. I’m sure many will like this the most about Microsoft Tunnel. So for organizations, this is going to address several issues.

You can now comfortably implement BYOD policies without worrying about the security of corporate data or user privacy. Switching to a BYOD program would also be financially advantageous for organizations as they will no longer need to constantly invest in corporate-owned devices.

In addition, unenrolled iOS and Android devices can get secure access to on-prem apps and resources using modern authentication, Single Sign On, and conditional access. This is because of how Microsoft Tunnel for MAM extends the VPN gateway to these devices. So this will enable the users of these unmanaged devices to also get secure access to corporate resources.

Because no device enrollment is needed the currently available capabilities of Microsoft Tunnel will be expanded. A good example of this is how Android apps won’t need integrating with any SDKs other than the MAM SDK which is used to auto-start VPN for apps if desired or retrieve trusted root certs.

  • Advanced Endpoint Analytics

Endpoint Analytics aims to enable IT to optimize the user experience and improve productivity by providing insights that can help IT admins be proactive in their tasks. This feature offers both IT staff and end-users a system that can obtain detailed and granular data on the organization’s endpoints and thus how the business is performing.

IT can leverage this data to provide proactive assistance to end-users and thus establish a greater degree of working efficiency. This new suite that Microsoft is bringing to its clients will include several advanced endpoint analytics features that are designed to better equip IT to have a better analytical overview and understanding of how the end-user experience is going. And with these capabilities, the end-user experience can be optimized regardless of where the employee may be working from.

The introduction of improved drill-down capabilities is also going to help admins better cater to the needs of devices under their management. By using these capabilities, it becomes easier for IT to assess any areas that require improvement as well as prioritize targeted actions for specific people in your organization.

The insights that one can get are also invaluable for comparison purposes. For instance, some employees prefer working remotely and so organizations can take advantage of the detailed information they have to compare the experiences of workers in different kinds of situations.

Microsoft has also talked about a new anomaly detection capability that will combine real-time visibility, AI, and machine learning. This capability is built to simplify the life of IT admins by eliminating the need to consistently monitor custom dashboards or complicated alert systems to assess the performance of endpoints in your care.

What anomaly detection will offer them, instead, is a system that delivers an early warning mechanism to proactively learn about user-impacting issues rather than relying on various other channels such as support for these reports. Anomaly detection helps to streamline the process and minimize any loss of productivity.

This platform will enable the automatic identification of issues such as unexpected machine reboots, app crashes, and hardware and peripheral failures. To help IT admins better analyze the issues at hand, the anomalies are categorized based on severity and come with any relevant information. Once the information is available, IT can carry out a thorough analysis of the anomalies and implement the necessary measures.  

The new enhancements that Microsoft is introducing are going to make the organizations operate a lot more efficiently. By leveraging automations and proactive remediations, potential issues can be resolved before end-users are even aware that something is going on.

IT and support staff can look forward to plenty of new features in the new advanced endpoint management suite. They will now be able to run customized remediation scripts on individual devices on-demand and in real-time. This is something that will be done within their troubleshooting sessions and can thus offer instant fixes or change the device configuration to ensure devices are always performing optimally.       

Wrap Up

Going forward more and more organizations are embracing the hybrid workforce model as potentially the way to go. It’s not surprising as several surveys seem to show that plenty of employees want to have the option of working remotely.

So if organizations are going to adopt this model as well as put in place BYOD policies it’s essential to have endpoint management solutions that make this a viable option. And this is just what Microsoft is aiming to do with the new advanced endpoint management solutions suite. This should give IT admins everything they need for effective endpoint management in one place.

No longer will you need to stitch together products from multiple vendors that will cost you dearly. If this new suite of products delivers as promised then organizations will have an invaluable tool to add to their arsenal.

Analyzing the Economic Impact of Windows 365 on Businesses

In 2021, Microsoft added a new product to its software portfolio. The Windows 365 Cloud PC enables users to experience a cloud version of Windows 10/11 from their personal devices. And given what we have experienced in the last few years, the value of the Cloud PC to businesses is significant. No longer do employees have to be confined to their physical offices.

In fact, according to a survey done by Microsoft, 73% of workers would like to maintain flexible and remote work options. But, this presents a challenge for businesses. Can a hybrid workforce be a viable option? Also, what value if any would businesses stand to gain from such a work environment?

Below, I want to go over just what Windows 365 may potentially offer your business. Not only that, but it’s also important to know how the Cloud PC compares to some of the other options.

Adopting a cloud computing model

Windows 365 is ushering in a new era of computing that is putting aside the enterprise PC for an innovative Cloud PC. The latter is highly secure and always available thus offering users a different way of approaching their work.

But, as with any new technology, there are several concerns that need to be addressed. Businesses are concerned about how they would effectively manage a hybrid workforce with employees working remotely.

And then there is the issue of security. How do you secure the corporate network when employees are using personal devices that were never meant for the office?

Then there are concerns about operational viability as well as setting up costs. What about the time it will take as well as the cost to train your staff? 

These are only a few of the very real concerns that businesses have when the issue of setting up a cloud computing environment comes up. However, Windows 365 was designed to resolve all those issues to businesses’ satisfaction.

Incorporation of significant changes

Cloud computing is not something new and plenty are already familiar with it. And because several businesses already have experience with various other VDI platforms, they will be wondering what makes Windows 365 different from the technology they already have in place. After all, why pay for another service that potentially does the same thing? But, we very quickly realize that Windows 365 is very different from traditional on-premises VDI environments.

One of the biggest selling points of the Cloud PC is its ease-of-use. Microsoft has designed it to be simple to set up and easy to use. You can have new employees fully set up with Cloud PCs in a matter of hours. Something that could take weeks with legacy infrastructure.

You only have to look at what it takes to run on-premises VDI systems. Businesses have to purchase the necessary servers, set them up, install all the applications you’ll require, and then go through the often long process of onboarding users.

Windows 365 just about eliminates all of that. Offering you a Cloud PC means that Microsoft alone will take care of the virtualization. Ultimately this will make the deployment of operating systems a lot faster since you won’t have to deal with the hassle of hardware and software configurations.

The automation of the various processes also means that there is no need for additional VDI expertise or resources. Microsoft will also ensure that you can scale the service as necessary to meet your organization’s needs. And as organizations start to reap the benefits of a highly productive and remote workforce, the need for a solution like Windows 365 grows even more.

The ability to customize and provision a desktop based on the users’ needs means that for the most part, it doesn’t really matter what device an individual is using. It also doesn’t matter whether it’s a corporate-owned device or a personal one. The security measures that come with Windows 365 ensure that end-users can securely access corporate resources on personal devices.

What can businesses expect?

The Cloud PC is designed to offer a better cloud experience than other services on the market. Including Windows traditional devices. Developed for hybrid working, Windows 365 can offer the kind of flexibility that allows seamless device changes without affecting the status of the work. Not only that, but users will be happy to know that Windows 365 is compatible with other Microsoft 365 business applications. This means that you won’t miss out on your favorite apps such as Word, Planner, or SharePoint.

According to Wangui McKelvey, general manager for Windows 365, “However, the ability to work anytime, anywhere has become the new normal. All employees want technology that is familiar, easy to use, and available across devices. In the most complex cybersecurity environment weve ever seen, organizations need a solution that helps their employees collaborate, share, and create while protecting their data. We have the opportunity to develop the tools that enable this new world of hybrid work with a new perspective and the power and security of the cloud.

There’s plenty to like about Windows 365 with all the features available that businesses will be able to benefit from. Features that enable this service to be a game changer in the world of cloud computing. And these features include:

  • Instant boot to a personal Cloud PC,
  • Clients get the full Windows experience in the cloud,
  • Clients can also stream various applications, tools, data, and settings directly from the Microsoft cloud across any device,
  • You get a choice of running either Windows 10 or Windows 11,
  • Secure by design, and fully compliant with Microsoft’s Zero Trust principles,
  • Flexible per-user, per-month pricing plans at flat subscription rates,
  • A scalable set of virtual hardware parameters that lets you adjust to changing conditions whenever necessary,
  • Fully compliant with Azure AD and Microsoft Endpoint Manager,
  • Fast setup process that provisions your Cloud PC within minutes.

Financial considerations

Outside of security, the financial side of things is probably the biggest area that the Cloud PC needs to address. What sort of economic impact would adopting the Cloud PC have on your organization? If we consider a study by the Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), using Windows 365 may possibly increase your annual potential revenue by up to $14,000 per user. For smaller businesses, there is mention of a possible annual benefit of up to $7000 per user. Undoubtedly, these kinds of figures could provide massive upturns in the performance of any business.

Now we may only be talking of potential here but those are really good numbers to look at. You also have to consider that Windows 365 can possibly lower your hardware expenses as well. Think about the costs involved in purchasing, running, and maintaining on-premises network servers. What about the cost of refreshing your hardware every now and again or providing new hires with devices? All these are costs that can be lowered when using Windows 365.

Windows 365 offers Cloud PCs at a fixed per-user/per month cost. This allows businesses to plan their budgets with greater certainty. Being able to accurately plan in advance can help increase revenue streams and decrease unexpected expenses. Below we’ll go over just what kind of security clients can expect from Windows 365. The high-end security that Microsoft has put in place means that businesses can rest assured that their data will be highly secure.

Simplified onboarding process

With traditional VDI environments, setting up new employees may take weeks. I’m sure we can all agree that this is far from ideal in a busy work environment. The beauty of Windows 365 is that deployment of Cloud PCs has been designed to be relatively easy. So much so that even if your organization doesn’t have the expertise to set up a traditional VDI it still won’t be too much of a challenge.

The process is simple and enables your business to onboard new employees with IT equipment, regardless of location, within a matter of hours. This gives users the advantage of using devices they are familiar with and thus comfortable with. While on the other hand, businesses need not worry about the security of corporate resources.

The swiftness with which employees can be onboarded can significantly reduce downtime and allow businesses to maintain productivity levels. In addition, this also makes it easier to bring on temporary workers when the need arises. Setting up temporary employees is done quickly and when their services are no longer required, access can be revoked just as quickly. So if you have seasonal workers, they can cycle on and off very easily.

Operational flexibility

As mentioned above, recently many workers have begun stating their desire to have flexible work conditions. Plenty are choosing to work from home if the option is availed to them. Windows 365 can make this a viable option for most businesses that are willing to consider it.

And accessing your PC on the cloud can even help organizations build an international workforce seeing as geographic boundaries are less of a concern with cloud computing. This can help businesses bring in the best talent regardless of location. The flexibility of Windows 365 also extends to your relationships with independent contractors.

A business won’t need to purchase company PCs for all these individuals nor go through a lengthy onboarding process. People who can benefit greatly from this include IT professionals, consultants, physicians, and countless others. Windows 365 can grant them access to your environment in a safe and as-needed capacity.

Enhanced network security

One of the key areas of great concern when establishing a hybrid workforce is security. How do you maintain a high level of security over corporate resources? Especially when you consider that employees may be using personal devices. But, Microsoft designed Windows 365 using Zero Trust principles. Also, it is powered by the security architecture of Microsoft Azure thus providing an incredibly secure cloud computing environment.

When it comes to the use of personal devices, Windows 365 can prevent the compromise of corporate data by configuring how those devices interact with the Cloud PC. This provides an enhanced layer of protection around the corporate network to safeguard data.

In addition, businesses need continuity strategies in case of disaster or something like the COVID-19 pandemic. Windows 365 is well placed to address these kinds of scenarios. With access to Cloud PCs, businesses will significantly reduce the risk of massive disruptions if disaster ever strikes. Microsoft has a wide distribution of data centers meaning your Cloud PCs will remain accessible and your data secure. The redundancies built into the system are designed to ensure that.

Another security issue concerns the offboarding process for employees or independent contractors. This can prove challenging especially when you have unhappy individuals in possession of expensive company devices. And when these individuals still have access to your network then your corporate data becomes extremely vulnerable.

There have been reports that have stated that 20 percent of companies have experienced breaches due to disgruntled former employees. However, with Windows 365 that is not a concern. This is because the offboarding process is swift with employees’ access to corporate resources being revoked immediately.

Accessibility

Microsoft offers the Windows 365 platform to both small and large businesses. There are options available that can cater to the needs of most. And the fixed price model means that businesses can find it easier to accurately predict the cost of use. Once the system is up and running, users can access their Cloud PCs from anywhere and may even use their mobile phones to do so. This means that productivity levels can be maintained when employees are traveling or working from home.

Additionally, because your desktop now resides on the Microsoft Cloud, your physical devices have slightly less value. Even if your laptop or mobile device is stolen, your desktop, as well as corporate data, will remain secure. Also, because the heavy computing runs on the cloud, users don’t need to worry about having powerful devices to run resource-intensive apps.

Certain design and engineering apps, for instance, may require a significant amount of processing power. But, with the cloud handling the processing you can take advantage of these apps on less powerful devices. And when it comes to the types of apps you can access on the Cloud PC, Microsoft has designed it such that all your apps that work on Windows 10/11 will run on the Cloud PC. So accessibility is not limited to Microsoft apps.

Localized user experience

A few decades ago English was considered the language of the internet by most. And this was understandable given how much of the early development was taking place in English-speaking regions. However, for a long time now that is no longer the case.

A lot of people across the globe are now very much active online. People from different cultural backgrounds and different languages. This means that localization of the user experience can no longer be something to consider as an afterthought. Microsoft has clients from all different continents and so it’s important to cater to the various needs.

A large part of the attraction of Windows 365 is that businesses both great and small can have options that will work for them. But, Microsoft wants to expand not only the reach of Windows 365 but the ease of use as well. To that end, Microsoft is aiming to simplify the configuration process by enabling admins to set up local language Cloud PCs easily and at first login.

This localization feature, which was announced earlier this year, is going to allow you during the stage of creation of provisioning policies to configure a Language & Region pack to be installed on the Cloud PCs during provisioning. Microsoft reported that there would be a selection of 38 languages to pick from.

So this creates a situation where organizations from various regions across the world can use the Cloud PC with greater ease. For any business that may have been hesitant to subscribe because of language barriers, Microsoft has addressed that.

Furthermore, those who have already provisioned their Cloud PCs can also take advantage of this feature. It has been set up to enable admins to change the configured language for any existing provisioning policies that you choose and subsequently reprovision any desired Cloud PCs.

This is going to give your admins something to be happy about as they will save a lot of time by not having to manually install language packs onto a custom image to localize Cloud PCs. All they need to do now is simply configure language settings in a gallery image. The time saved will also benefit the business as IT staff can spend more time on business-centric endeavors and aim to improve overall productivity.

Better workforce management

Windows 365 can play an integral role in helping your business improve in the area of workforce management. The features that the service provides are designed to enable you to optimize the way your business operates. As a result, you can expect to have the tools you need to put the right people in the right place at the right time to enhance your client’s experience in a way that will reflect positively on your revenue stream.

Leveraging Windows 365 can improve your use of time thus improving your efficiency and productivity. The ease of use that Microsoft has emphasized helps your employees because they don’t need to spend time maintaining the environment or resolving issues. Also, the available collaboration platforms such as Microsoft Teams facilitate instant communication and simplify working together for teams who may be in different locations.

Those communication platforms are equally important in ensuring that employees who are working remotely retain the same degree of efficiency and productivity as their peers who are on-site. As this trend of remote work continues to grow, those in leadership positions will need the flexibility to comfortably perform their management duties without missing a step.

This is why it’s so important that you can access your Windows 365 Cloud PC from anywhere on just about any device. Additionally, you can create various groups of people on Microsoft Teams so that those managing people working on the same project find it a lot simpler. Regardless of where they or you are.

A lot of businesses are in great need of innovative solutions that can promote rapid growth without relying on massive amounts of investment. Windows 365 has got this well covered. There are a wide range of options available with both Windows 365 Business and Windows 365 Enterprise.

So there’s something for everyone. From the small business trying to grow to the huge enterprises looking to streamline their operations. Because of the pricing structure, scaling up is easy and relatively affordable allowing you to acquire more resources as your business expands.

Another thing that helps with better workforce management is the fact that Windows 365 will be responsible for software updates and new releases. This helps your business to focus its energies on critical, productive endeavors. Not only that but you can also eliminate the exhaustive and costly task of refreshing dated hardware. As long as your current hardware is compliant with the Windows 365 requirements then you won’t need to worry about your hardware anytime in the near future.

Support availability

A good part of the overall value of a service can be attributed to the support that clients can expect to receive. If a problem was to arise with your Cloud PCs you would need for it to be attended to swiftly. From the beginning, Microsoft has designed Windows 365 to be easy to use. Unlike with Azure Virtual Desktop, businesses won’t require the services of an Azure Solutions expert to configure and manage the Windows 365 environment.

Microsoft also announced that they would look to help clients become more proficient at using Windows 365 clients by hosting Ask Microsoft Anything (AMA) events specifically dedicated to Windows 365. According to the announcement, these meetings would be scheduled for the fourth Wednesday of every month starting February 2022. So all clients that are using or considering Windows 365 should find these events a great source of information.

Any questions that you have about Windows 365 will be up for discussion including questions regarding the available features, provisioning, deployment, customization, best practices, and anything else you may need clarification on. And Microsoft will have members of its engineering and product teams available at these hour-long events to help you and provide you with the answers you need. Therefore if your organization wants to get the most out of running Windows in the cloud, there’s probably no better place to get the information you need.

Another place where one can find out more about Windows 365 is the Windows 365 Tech Community. This platform can also provide great support to Cloud PC users by addressing any issues they may be encountering. But, the information available may also be of great value to businesses looking to establish a Windows 365 environment. They can get feedback from the community members regarding their interest in Windows 365.

Ease the load on IT staff

As one is going through the information that we have on Windows 365, it becomes abundantly clear that there are countless benefits for end-users. But, your IT admins will also want to know if they’ll see changes when compared to other services. And the reality is, that the ease of use principle that Microsoft applies to Windows 365 extends to your IT team as well.

From the management perspective, there is plenty to be excited about starting with the fact that there is no need to have headaches about the infrastructure you need to set up to get the Cloud PC experience. Microsoft handles that side of things. Also, admins won’t need to get certified in anything else or learn new management tools. This is because Windows 365 is designed for all organizations even those without expert IT pros on staff to be able to run it without difficulty.

Furthermore, you’ll be happy to know that the way you currently manage your physical devices with Microsoft Endpoint Manager will for the most part be similar to the management of Cloud PCs. A good example of this is that if you navigate to the All Devices list in Microsoft Endpoint Manager, you’ll see both your physical and Cloud PCs listed side by side.

Admins will also find that the deployment process is not complicated at all. For users to get a Cloud PC assigned to them, there are pretty much just two requirements that need to be met. They need to have the necessary license in addition to being part of an Azure Active Directory Group that’s assigned to a provisioning policy.

The process starts in the Microsoft Admin Center where you assign licenses similarly to how you would for other Microsoft 365 services. You can have a licensing admin take care of this particular task. After that, you can head over to Active Users and perform the assignment. With that done, you can now give users Cloud PCs and set them up with Microsoft 365 as well.

As soon as a user is added to a group, the Cloud PC provisioning process will be launched and it won’t be long before the Cloud PC is ready for use. And with Windows 365 using a fixed price per user per month model, there’s no extra workload involving tracking, utilization, or keeping idle resources running.

Comparing Windows 365 and Azure Virtual Desktop

While Windows 365 may be a relatively new service, Microsoft already had another platform that offers remote desktop services. This product is of course Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD). Those who may be familiar with AVD will be asking themselves what if any are the differences between the two services.

  • Design

With Windows 365, you get a cloud-based service that delivers a Windows 10/11 desktop to a business’s employees. Using this service eliminates the need for managing Azure infrastructure and businesses get the advantage of using existing resources. This can include things such as the Microsoft Endpoint Manager portal, your Windows OS licenses, as well as various other applications. Windows 365’s ease-of-use principle enables businesses to get a remote desktop service that is simple to use with Cloud PCs that can be set up in a matter of hours.

Azure Virtual Desktop, on the other hand, is a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) service that works great for multi-session use, temporary use, high-end computing, and application virtualization. AVD offers clients affordable, flexible, and scalable virtual environments. The customizability of AVD allows businesses to have greater control over their VDI environment and potentially reduce operating costs. Costs can also be reduced because you won’t need single gateway servers to manage multiple host pools and run simultaneous workloads.

  • Technical features

When it comes to the technical side of things, there are several differences that you need to know for you to decide which service is right for your business. Some of the differences are as follows:

  • Design – Windows 365 has been designed to be simple and easy to use whereas AVD has been designed more for flexibility.
  • Desktop – clients get personal desktops for Windows 365 and AVD (single session). For AVD (multisession) there are pooled desktops.
  • Pricing – the pricing structure for AVD follows a consumption-based model whereas Windows 365 offers a fixed per-user per-month pricing.
  • Subscription – subscriptions are customer-managed for AVD and fully Microsoft-managed for Windows 365 Business. Windows 365 Enterprise is also Microsoft-managed with the exception of networking.
  • VM SKUs – Windows 365 has various optimized options for multiple use cases. On the other hand, AVD offers any Azure VM including GPU-enabled SKUs.
  • Backup – AVD clients will get to use Azure backup services while Windows 365 users get local redundant storage for disaster recovery.
  • Costs

AVD normally has virtual machines (VMs) that are dedicated to a single user. However, there is also a pooled desktops feature that enables several users to have access to a VM. Also, AVD session hosts can provide personal desktops if the need arises. Because VMs operate under your Azure subscription it means that the computing expenses are passed on to you. Your costs for using AVD are going to be based on your consumption. But, this has the benefit of allowing you to lower AVD and VM environment costs because of auto-scaling.

Windows 365 provides clients with a virtual machine that is dedicated to one user. In this case, these VMs function under a Microsoft Azure subscription meaning that the client has no computing expenses to worry about. Cloud PCs require a Windows 365 Cloud PC license and usage costs are based on a fixed per-user/per-month price plan. Unlike with AVD, auto-scaling and reserved instances won’t be an option for Cloud PCs since the cost is fixed and admins don’t have access to the VMs from the Azure portal.

  • Ideal user scenarios

When deciding what your business should use you need to know what kind of scenarios would be best for Windows 365. The first thing you can look at is the number of PCs you have in your IT environment. Because of the low-cost factor, ease of deployment, and lack of prerequisites, environments with only a few PCs will find Windows 365 to be a great choice.

Another consideration is organizations that currently aren’t utilizing Azure and have no plans to do so in the near future. For these businesses, they should consider Windows 365 because of how easy they’ll find desktop assignment. Not to mention that there is no administrative overhead for IT admins to worry about.

If your organization has already invested in Microsoft Endpoint Manager then Windows 365 can be a great option for your environment. The Cloud PC is also ideal for clients that would like personalized VMs with local admin rights.

Azure Virtual Desktop provides a wonderful solution for those who are already familiar with VDI environments and are comfortable with them. In addition, if you need a fully customizable environment then AVD may be the way to go.

For scenarios that require a published RemoteApp application, AVD is your best choice given that RemoteApps cannot be published from Windows 365 Cloud PCs. If the number of users requiring virtual desktops frequently varies throughout the month then you may be better served with AVD. Windows 365 has fixed costs per month regardless of whether a virtual desktop has been used or not.

 Windows 365Azure Virtual Desktop
Control planeAVDAVD
Business<300 Business, >300 Enterprisepersonal desktop (small deployments), pooled desktops (large deployments)
Active Directory requirementsAzure AD Connect (Hybrid Azure AD supported)Azure AD
ComputeFully Microsoft managed, admins have no access to VMsCustomer-managed, flexibility to configure VMs
StorageFully managed storage, fixed pricingCustomer managed, flexibility with OS Disks, FSLogix profiles
CostFixed per-user/per month costConsumption-based cost
User profileNo FSLogixFSLogix optional for Single-User, and mandatory for Multi-User
RemoteApp supportNoYes
Pooled desktopsNoYes
Supported endpoint operating systemsWindows, macOS, iOS, Unix, Web, AndroidWindows, macOS, iOS, Unix, Web, Android  

What about VMware Horizon?

When looking at VDI solutions, another name you’ll likely come across is VMware Horizon. The latter is a virtualization service that can deliver desktops and apps on Windows, Linux, and MacOS systems. Using this platform enables IT staff to run desktop applications and virtual machines in the data center or cloud.

They can then deliver these to employees as managed services. VMware gives you virtual machines that you can run on the VMware Cloud on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud, or other VMware partner clouds. End-users can run their VMs on various devices including PCs, tablets, and smartphones.

VMware is capable of delivering a very personalized user experience by separating desktop and application components before delivering them together when required. Below is a table that provides comparative information on all three of Windows 365, Azure Virtual Desktop, and VMware Horizon.

 Windows 365Azure Virtual DesktopVMware Horizon
PlatformWindows, SaaSWindowsSaaS
Target marketBusinesses requiring Windows Clouds PCs that are always availableIT professionalsIT professionals, app developers
SupportOnlineBusiness hoursBusiness hours, online
TrainingDocumentationDocumentationDocumentation
FunctionDaaS, VDIApp virtualization, DaaSDaaS, VDI, VM, virtualization
IntegrationsMicrosoft Endpoint ManagerAuthPoint, Automai Robotic Process Automation, Catapult Spyglass, Liquidware, Login VSI, Microsoft Azure, Remote Desktop Commander Suite, SysTrack    AuthPoint, Commvault HyperScale X, Goliath Performance Monitor, Login VSI, Oracle Database, Remote Desktop Commander Suite, SQL Server, SecureIdentity DLP, SecureIdentity MFA, SecureIdentity PAM, SysTrack, ThinPrint, vCenter Server, vRealize, Automation  

Wrap up

There used to be a time when getting your work done meant that you needed to be at your workstation using your desktop. Then the use of laptops allowed employees to have a bit more flexibility, although it was rather limited. In the last few decades, remote desktop technology has come along in leaps and bounds. Now, we’re at a point where businesses have options that deliver desktops from the cloud. Not least of which is Windows 365.

This remote desktop service from Microsoft is built on top of existing Azure Virtual Desktop infrastructure but comes with unique capabilities of its own. The Cloud PC presents a great economic solution in a world where the workspace is evolving. Businesses can leverage Windows 365 to provide desktops for remote workers without having to invest in physical devices.

And as we have seen with some of the potential figures, making the migration to Windows 365 could significantly boost revenue. Going forward, Microsoft is taking cloud computing to a completely new level. Businesses have plenty to gain as they begin to experience the Windows desktop in a completely new way.

What You Need To Know About Windows 365 Multi-Window Support

One of the most important elements that any organization requires to have functional teams is effective communication. Especially when you are trying to establish a hybrid work environment. This is because failure to create good communication can negatively affect collaboration on projects and overall productivity.

Reasons like these are why platforms like Microsoft Teams can be vital for enhancing the way your organization works. Teams can help you establish good communication channels and boost cooperation.

And there are a number of different features that Microsoft has introduced to help streamline workflow. Multi-window support is one such feature that has plenty to offer and I’ll be going over that below.

Challenges that needed addressing

Since the introduction of Microsoft Teams a few years ago, the service has brought a lot of convenience to how employees can communicate and collaborate. However, despite the great features on offer, there were issues that were constantly brought forward by users.

These issues involved instances such as where a user could be on multiple chats while simultaneously trying to edit a file and join. Doing this would be somewhat challenging as you would need to leave each action ongoing in the background.

And then you would need to go through the process of running around later trying to figure out where you would have left off with each action. Most users needed multi-window support to simplify the way they work.

Multi-tasking is a key element for a lot of people to work as efficiently as they need. So it’s no surprise that Microsoft developed the multi-window support feature to enhance the work experience for their clients.

What is Multi-window support?

Multi-window support is simply a feature that enables users the option to pop out chats, meetings, calls, or documents into separate windows. The goal here is that users will be able to easily multitask in the team collaboration app.

In the past, people have faced challenges when trying to keep up with multiple conversations, particularly those docked to one application window. But, with multi-window support, users can now view full-sized, separate windows for meetings or calls as well as the main Teams client during a Teams meeting.

Furthermore, to prevent blocking underlying content, Microsoft has designed it such that meeting and call controls such as video, chat, mute, etc., are now found at the top of the meeting window.

Windows 365 users will be glad to know that this feature has just recently been made generally available to them. Undoubtedly, this is something that can be of great value to your communication and collaboration with a hybrid workforce.

Setting up

Getting started with the process of setting up multi-window support is a relatively simple exercise. To begin, you’ll need to ensure that you have the latest Teams Desktop version 1.5.00.11865. This will be necessary for you to enable the feature on Azure Virtual Desktop.

Two download options are available, one in MSI format and the other in EXE format. Once you are finished updating the Teams desktop client to version 1.5.00.11865, a banner will appear. This will occur when you open the new Teams desktop client for the first time.

And then to turn on the multi-window feature, all you’ll need to do is restart Microsoft Teams. If you want to check whether multi-window has been successfully turned on, right-click on any chat. If you get a “pop out chat” option then you know the feature has been enabled.

Using the pop-out facility

Before you can use the pop-out facility, there are a few additional things about this feature that you need to know. Microsoft has designed it to be a simple and easy-to-use feature that should pose few if any problems. One of the things to note is that the feature will not allow you to pop out the same chat or app twice at a time.

But, you can still open several chats and apps simultaneously. Also, there are certain tasks that require you to go back to the main window. These include app installations, attaching files, and scheduling of meetings.

How it works

There are a few different ways that users can take advantage of the multi-window feature to enhance communication and collaboration. These may include:

  • Multiple windows for Chat

The multi-window feature can be used for separating a one-on-one chat conversation into a window. To do that you’ll first need to head over to Microsoft Teams. Once there, go to the Chat tab. Next, you need to select the chat or conversation thread that you intend to separate. With that done, click the pop-out button and you should be able to see the chat appear in a separate window.

  • Multiple windows for Meetings

Teams allows you to separate a meeting that is within a channel. For that, you start by opening Microsoft Teams and then joining the meeting. The latter will then open in a separate window. And if you want to join or start a meeting in a different channel then it will also open in its own window.

  • Multiple windows for channel tabs

There are some tabs in Channels that can be separated into windows of their own. Generally speaking, the tabs that can be separated do not include default tabs such as the Wiki, Posts, and Files tab.

However, some other tabs such as the Planner tab can be separated into a window. In a similar manner to the previous cases, start by navigating to Microsoft Teams and then going to the Teams tab.

Next, you’ll need to select a channel and then go to the tab that you intend to separate. With that done, click the pop-out button and you’ll see the tab separate into its own window.

Communication in Teams

If you want to start a conversation, you can do so in the appropriate chat or channel by typing a message in the conversation field at the bottom of the screen. And as soon as you post a message in the channel all the other team members will be able to see it. Anyone within a channel can post messages.

Teams also allows you to have several conversations going on simultaneously in different channels. A conversation thread can easily develop because of how simple it is to reply to messages and how all topic-related replies are linked together.

You also get the ability to direct messages to specific team members and that individual will be given an alert. This is a great way of ensuring that messages that are of significant importance to certain team members reach them.

Communication in Microsoft Teams can also be done via audio or video calls. These features that are built into the service are referred to as meetings. For the convenience of users, these meetings can be started on demand or you can schedule them at a time that is convenient for everyone.

Starting a meeting is pretty simple with you only needing to go to the relevant channel and click on the camera icon that you’ll find at the bottom. Once a meeting has begun, you’ll be able to see your other team members in the sidebar. Additionally, by looking in the team’s conversation thread, others may see that there is a meeting in progress and can thus choose to join in.

Benefits of multi-window support

Having multi-window support can be of immense benefit to the way organizations carry out their various projects. For starters, when you have the option to open up multiple separate windows, it makes handling several different tasks simultaneously a far easier and significantly faster process.

Rather than having to go through the cumbersome process of constantly switching back and forth and checking where you left off, multi-window support gives you a more streamlined experience.

This is something that those who work in fast-paced environments will be extremely grateful for. As a result of this capability, users can experience greater flexibility when using Microsoft Teams and this can potentially increase an organization’s productivity.

Setting up Microsoft Teams

Those who would be interested in using Microsoft Teams for their organizations will find it easy to set up. Microsoft includes Teams in the Windows 11 and Windows 10 images optimized for Microsoft 365 apps.

These optimized images that are available in the Windows 365 image gallery have been designed to support Teams chat, meeting optimizations, presence, and calling. In addition, the images in the gallery come pre-configured with the required optimization components. So when you install Teams on your Cloud PC you’ll be getting an optimized experience.

Because of the optimization components, users can do peer-to-peer audio and video calls from their devices to those of their colleagues. Therefore, this should give users the same experience as that of using Microsoft Teams on a physical endpoint. Below are some of the major benefits of the optimizations:

  • You get quality peer-to-peer streaming facilitated by WebRTC and rendered directly on the endpoint.
  • You also get enhanced hardware redirection support because devices will be redirected as the same hardware device.
  • Endpoints running Windows 10/11 as well as macOS will benefit from all the advantages of the modern media stack. And that includes HW video decoding.

Availability of user support

Although the Microsoft Teams multi-window support may offer plenty to help users streamline their work, organizations still need additional support to simplify the process of adopting Microsoft Teams.

The availability of Teams may be a fantastic way for organizations to rearrange the way they work, but the platform needs to be easy to use. As with all technology, people need to be able to use it with relative ease otherwise it ends up being another ‘great’ product that no one uses.

Microsoft wants to make sure that does not happen and so they provide comprehensive training material for end-users which includes a training channel on YouTube, live online training, and a start guide that provides you with the basics. With all of this, Microsoft Teams will provide end-users with more than adequate resources to learn how to use their application and get the most out of it.

High-level security

With all that Windows 365 multi-window support can offer clients, it’s still extremely important to have good security in place. When we look at Teams we realize that it is built on the Microsoft 365 and Office 365 hyper-scale, enterprise-grade cloud.

Therefore, users will get the advanced security and compliance capabilities that we know this platform provides. Enterprises will get team-wide and organization-wide two-factor authentication, single sign-on through Active Directory, and encryption of data in transit and at rest. These features are invaluable, particularly for organizations with staff working remotely.

This is because account security isn’t linked to password or device security so remote workers using personal devices can maintain high levels of security. Given the levels of cybercrime in recent years, Microsoft has ensured that Teams gets a variety of built-in security features. And because of Active Directory, admins can configure these features to cater specifically to the needs of their organizations.

Wrap up

With an increasing number of organizations looking to have part of their workforce working remotely, communication platforms like Microsoft Teams are a hot item right now. And with features like multi-window support being added to Windows 365, users of the Cloud PC can better communicate and collaborate with their colleagues.

No one likes the cumbersome process that you are faced with when there is no multi-window support as this can adversely affect how efficiently you can work. The ability to leverage multi-window features allows you to multitask with greater ease.

By doing so, users can streamline their workflow and potentially boost productivity. So with all these great features and more in development, Windows 365 users can continue to get the best of what Microsoft has to offer.

Useful Things You Can Learn from the Windows 365 Community Right Now

As most people have probably experienced in the past, getting up to speed with a new service or product can sometimes involve a lot of trial and error. How often does it happen that you accidentally ‘discover’ a new feature on an app or a device that you’ve had for a while?

While it may generally make for an exciting finding, it’s arguably always better to be fully aware of the features and capabilities of a product or service. This is part of what Microsoft wanted to address with the Windows 365 Tech Community.

A lot of organizations have been hesitant to migrate to the cloud and adopt cloud-based solutions for various reasons. Some of those may be security-based but others simply have to do with a lack of know-how about a service like Windows 365. So by giving you a Windows 365 community, organizations and users can find support and helpful information.

Getting familiar with Windows 365

Organizations that are looking at innovative tech solutions to address modern needs are at some point going to encounter Windows 365. So, Microsoft has to begin by introducing what this service is and how organizations can benefit from it.

This is something that Microsoft begins to address in the Microsoft Mechanics series. In recent times, there has been a huge demand for cloud-based technology. And a simple online search will show you that there are several services that businesses can utilize for their needs.

Therefore, you can justifiably ask why exactly Windows 365 is the service you need. The short answer to that would be how this service is designed to modernize the way that you can experience Windows from anywhere on any device.

This will ultimately serve up an optimum experience for both IT pros and end users. Without the need to hire expert tech support to set up and manage Windows 365, it makes it a service that is both easy to use and manage.

Device compatibility

Another key piece of information that users will need has to do with device compatibility. Before you even consider types of devices, you should know that using the Windows 365 platform is something that should help you to lower your hardware expenses in the long term.

This is because of how the Cloud PC runs on the cloud. With the heavy computing done on the Microsoft Cloud, end-users don’t need to worry about purchasing expensive high-end devices to access the Windows 365 Cloud PC.

All anyone needs is a decent internet connection and they’ll have access to a relatively powerful Windows PC that they can stream on most devices. Accessing your Cloud PC can be done via any modern browser or the Remote Desktop app.

As one can imagine, if your organization has a significant number of people working for them remotely then a hybrid setup like this will be immensely beneficial. You’re not going to have to make a huge investment to provide all these individuals with devices.

All those Windows 10 and Windows 11 devices that you already have are perfectly compatible with Windows 365. But, it’s not just Windows devices that you can use. Users can easily stream a Windows 365 session to hardware running macOS, iPadOS, Linux, and Android.

However, for the best experience, Microsoft recommends using devices that have a traditional keyboard and mouse.

For the most part, as long as your device has an HTML5 browser and a DSL connection or a wireless internet connection capable of streaming a video you will be just fine. The amount of bandwidth that you’ll need, however, will depend on your workload.

Microsoft Teams update

Microsoft Teams is a collaboration platform that is based on the cloud and was launched in 2016 as part of the Office 365 productivity suite. The key features that have helped to establish Microsoft Teams include business messaging, calling, video meetings, and file sharing. It’s also designed to be accessible for use to most organizations regardless of size. Understandably, the popularity of this tool has grown significantly over the last few years.

Therefore, it’s crucial for Microsoft to keep updating the platform so that it keeps up with the evolving needs of clients. And part of that has involved offering background effects on Windows 365. The tech community platform has just made the announcement that this feature has now been made generally available.

What this recently announced development means is that you can now personalize the communication experience to your liking. Being able to apply background effects can help eliminate unwanted intrusions when having important meetings. Users can select their preferred background from a choice of several available.

Or, you can simply choose to blur out the background. This blur feature helps to subtly conceal everything in your background while keeping your image clear and isolated. These effects are designed to place all the focus on the topic of discussion and remove anything that may potentially cause disruptions.

The cost of Windows 365

Microsoft offers two editions of Windows 365 and both of them have a range of configurations that clients can pick from. This means that smaller businesses with less than 300 users and larger organizations with greater numbers of users can both be accommodated.

Fees start from $20 per user per month for the lowest-end SKU and go up to $162 per user per month for the most expensive one. Therefore, with Windows 365 you get fixed monthly subscriptions unlike with Azure Virtual Desktop.  And if you need to scale up then you are given the option of getting a different subscription as well.

Clients with the Windows 365 Business subscription can get a single virtual core, 2GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage for the starting price of $20. However, this fee is only available for clients that have Windows Hybrid Benefit. The latter is Microsoft’s Bring-Your-Own license model which is designed to help clients to apply existing (or new) licenses toward the cost of a product.

If not, then that cost goes up to $24. But, if your organization requires a lot more, you can pay $158 for eight virtual cores, 32GB of RAM, and 512GB of storage. The same situation regarding Windows Hybrid Benefit applies here and so without it, the fee goes up to $162.

The pricing model is pretty much consistent and the range of prices remains the same for Windows 365 Enterprise clients. Those that aren’t looking for a lot of computing resources can get a single virtual core with 2GB of RAM and 64GB of storage for the same $20.

However, if your computing needs are a lot greater then you can get the option that offers eight virtual cores, 32GB of RAM, and 512GB of storage for $158 per user per month.

Deleting Cloud PCs

Occasionally, you may need to redeploy your Cloud PCs for any number of reasons. And from the discussion on the Windows 365 tech community, we learn about how we can go about that. Microsoft allows us to use the reprovision feature to delete a user’s current Cloud PC and create a brand new one for that same user. The reprovisioning process, which is a remote action, will cause the deletion of the original Cloud PC along with all user data, applications, customizations, etc.

You should also be aware of the issue regarding the grace period. What happens during this seven-day grace period is that a user will continue to have access to the Cloud PC. However, as soon as those seven days expire, the user loses access and the Cloud PC is deprovisioned. But, you can also opt to use the End grace period option to immediately end the grace period.

Multiple user assignment

Most organizations will want to know how many users can be assigned to a Cloud PC. So it’s worth noting that the Cloud PC is designed only for a single user. Therefore, if you want to permanently reassign that Cloud PC, you have to first remove the license from the previous user. You also have to make sure that the Cloud PC is deprovisioned before you can reassign the license to a new user. Once the license reassignment has been done, the provisioning of the Cloud PC can begin.

Teams multi-window support

Another recent development that the Windows 365 community has learned about is that Teams Multi-window support and Call Me are now generally available on Windows 365. With Multi-window support, you can now pop out chats, meetings, calls, or documents into separate windows. I’m sure most of us can agree that this will help to create a less cluttered work environment enabling you to work more efficiently.

The new update is going to significantly enhance the user experience. The Multi-window support allows users to view full-size, separate windows for meetings or calls as well as the main Teams client during a Teams meeting.

This means that you no longer have the meeting window minimized to the corner of the screen. Furthermore, by leveraging the Call Me feature you can now transfer Teams calls to your phone over a PTSN network.

Custom device images

This is something that interests a lot of people out there and it’s possible to do on Windows 365 Enterprise. You can put your desired custom device image into your Azure subscription and then use it for provisioning Cloud PCs. The image can be obtained from Azure Marketplace gallery images or alternatively, you can create your own custom managed image. To upload the custom image to the Windows 365 service, you follow the steps below:

  • Sign in to the Microsoft Endpoint Manager admin center.
  • Navigate to Devices > Windows 365 > Custom images > Add.
  • In the Add image pane, you’ll need to provide details about the image name and version, subscription, and source image.
  • Then you simply select Add to add the image to your device image list.

Customizing languages

Earlier this year, Microsoft announced another great update that can improve end-user comfort and potentially productivity levels. Setting up that localized Windows experience can now be done by configuring a provisioning policy or creating a custom device image.

The objective is to enable you to configure a Language & Region pack that can be installed on the Cloud PCs during provisioning when you are creating your provisioning policy.

At present, there are 38 languages available and Microsoft will allow you to change the configured language for already existing provisioning policies and subsequently reprovision any desired Cloud PCs.

Resolving various challenges

There several issues that one can come across during the use of the Windows 365 Cloud PC. Fortunately though, Microsoft provides a troubleshooting page that can help you to deal with various issues.

So if you’re facing connection errors, audio and visual problems, network issues, or any other challenges then the troubleshooting page can provide potential solutions.

And if you are encountering problems with app compatibility then Microsoft offers you App Assure for that. With this service, you’ll get assistance for remediating issues with your ISV, line-of-business, and Microsoft-developed apps at no extra cost.

Wrap Up

Cloud-based solutions are here to stay and they are providing us with some incredible new ways of modifying our work environments. Over the last year, the Windows 365 Cloud PC has given us a great example of what migrating to the cloud can look like.

The agility that the service provides in addition to the high level security protocols mean that organizations can redesign their workspaces to suit the needs of a modern, hybrid workforce. And the Windows 365 tech community platform plays an important role in all of this.

We can find all the latest Windows 365 updates that we need as well as get answers to any enquiries that we may have. That way, we can take full advantage of the capabilities that the Cloud PC has to offer.

Apps In Windows 365: What Everyone Wants To Know

Windows 365 provides organizations with a virtualization service that encourages remote work. It offers clients a simplified way of having a PC that runs on the cloud and that you can access anywhere.

This means that Cloud PC users don’t need to be at a physical workstation in the office to complete their tasks. They can easily do so in the comfort of their homes on whatever devices they have – whether MacOS, Linux, Android, or iOS.

However, with all the convenience that comes with Windows 365, the issue of apps cannot be ignored. Most people have certain apps that are essential to the way they work and they are not willing to substitute them. Therefore, we need to know what the app situation is with Windows 365.

Default apps

Let’s start by looking at what Microsoft is going to offer you straight out of the box. This is important for users to know what their Cloud PCs come with and what they will need to do for other apps. The following are the apps that you’ll get by default:

Microsoft 365 Apps for Enterprise

Users will be thrilled to have this available. According to Microsoft, this offer gives you the most productive and secure Office experience for your organization. By using Microsoft 365 Apps for Enterprise, your teams can easily collaborate from anywhere, anytime. Users get all their favorite Office apps such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and more.

And to enhance your security, all these Office apps will get the latest software updates as soon as they are available. Users will also be able to utilize this platform across multiple devices and thus work remotely on iOS, Android, or Windows devices. In addition, Microsoft will enable users to leverage AI to improve the quality of work produced.

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams is a cloud-based service designed to provide workers with a platform to facilitate collaborative teamwork, video chats, workplace conversations, and sharing of documents. Features such as recording of meetings offer great convenience to your workforce, especially those working remotely.

By integrating with other Microsoft business apps such as PowerPoint, SharePoint, and Exchange, Teams provides you with a comprehensive alternative to the likes of Slack and Google Workspace. As the push for remote work has grown over the last few years, Microsoft Teams has taken a central role in Microsoft’s workplace productivity and collaboration strategy.

Accessing Teams can be done via a desktop app, a web browser, or a mobile app. Furthermore, it is supported by all major operating systems including Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android.

Microsoft OneDrive

This service provides clients with an online storage platform. Users can take advantage of OneDrive to store all their files in one place as well as easily collaborate and share with other users. What’s more, you can access your files or photos from any device, anywhere.

Arguably the main benefit of using OneDrive is that it syncs across multiple platforms and integrates with some of your favorite apps and services such as Office, Outlook, and plenty more. Files that you uploaded on your PC or Mac can be edited later on your laptop, tablet, or phone.

And with support for well over 200 file types, you’re unlikely to run into difficulties. As you can imagine, this makes it an ideal storage solution for users of the Windows 365 Cloud PC.

Microsoft Edge

In 2015, Microsoft finally decided to put Internet Explorer behind and released the new and improved Microsoft Edge. And many would argue that it was long overdue. By definition, Edge is what is known as a Chromium browser.

What this simply means is that it can run hundreds of extensions that are typically aimed at users of Google Chrome. Also, by signing up for a free Microsoft account, you can sync your browsing data across different devices.

With its sleek appearance and multiple features, Microsoft can now offer a browser that is a good alternative to the likes of Chrome and Firefox. The most attractive features include smart copy, vertical tabs, tracking prevention, Password Monitor, and plenty more.

As it expectedly continues to improve, Microsoft’s flagship browser will look to cut into the browser market share that has been dominated by Google Chrome.

What app formats are supported?

One of the key things with Windows 365 is the principle of ease of use. Microsoft wants the Cloud PC to be simple to provision and deploy even for organizations without a team of specialized IT professionals. To that end, there are several app formats that are compatible with Windows 365. And these include:

  • .MSI – within Intune, MSI format installers will be supported by both LoB and win32 options.
  • MSIX – MSIX is an application packaging solution for Windows that is designed to enable easy and optimized app installations for users. Meant to set a new standard, MSIX is said to contain all the best components of the packaging solutions already available in the Windows ecosystem. It enables modern packaging and deployment features to Win32, WPF, and Windows Forms apps. In short, it brings together the best of MSI, .appx, and App-V.
  • AppX – these are distributable file formats used for the distribution and installation of apps. In the Windows Store as part of Windows 10/11 Enterprise, apps will be automatically distributed in AppX-UWP format. The AppX approach is more effective across multiple platforms than traditional installers. Thus it’s a great way for distributing apps suited for multiple devices such as PCs, tablets, and smartphones.
  • Office – as far as Office is concerned, Windows 365 Cloud PCs will only support the Microsoft 365 Apps version.
  • Universal Print – this platform offers a way for your organization to simplify its print infrastructure by leveraging cloud services from Microsoft. For Windows 365 Enterprise, Universal Print can be used either natively or through one of the Universal Print partners. However, it still remains possible to opt for legacy print-server environments when using Windows 365.

Installing apps

In addition to the default apps that come with Windows 365, users can install apps on their Cloud PC just like they normally would in Windows. For whatever application you want to install, simply go to the application’s website and download it.

Or, you can download it from the Microsoft Store. Simply put, whatever apps you are currently using should work with Windows 365. As Microsoft said at the launch of Windows 365:

Windows 365 is a powerful system that offers instant boot-on to personal Cloud PCs thereby allowing users to stream all their applications, tools, data, and settings from the cloud across any device. Windows 365 provides the full PC experience in the cloud. The cloud also provides versatility in processing power and storage, enabling IT to scale up or down, based on their needs. With a choice of either Windows 10 or Windows 11, organizations can choose the Cloud PC that works for them with per-user per-month pricing.”

And with what Microsoft is offering it is not surprising that one of the main goals of the Cloud PC was to ensure compatibility. As a potential user, I’d like to know that being able to stream my apps means that I won’t have compatibility issues.

But, Microsoft has suggested that as long as your apps worked on Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and Windows 10 then they will also work on Windows 365. Microsoft goes so far as to say that if you happen to have any problems with your apps you will receive help at no cost with an eligible subscription through the Fast Track App Assure program.

If you want to download an app from the Microsoft store, you can follow the steps below:

  • Open the Microsoft Store app on your Cloud PC.
  • Use the search feature to look for the app you want.
  • Once on the app’s page, select Get.
  • When the download is complete, you can open the app.

In some instances, the app will require you to have administrator privileges. And so to modify a user’s role/privileges, you can check out the information here.

What is App Assure?

As mentioned above, app compatibility is a major concern for most people. It’s one of the things that could hinder an individual from using certain services or upgrading their operating system. To address this potential problem, Microsoft provides us with a free program called App Assure.

By using this service, users can work with Microsoft engineers to ensure app compatibility and to gain assistance in resolving challenges. The services offered by Microsoft’s engineers include:

  • Remediation of in-house developed LoB apps.
  • Helping you engage third-party software manufacturers to remediate their apps and provide Windows-As-A-Service support statements.
  • Addressing challenges that you may encounter with Microsoft products.

Assigning apps to Cloud PCs

Just like setting up most of the other features of Windows 365, the assignment of apps to Cloud PCs is relatively straightforward. To deploy Intune Windows client apps to your Cloud PCs, you’ll only have to follow the steps below:

  • Navigate to the Microsoft Endpoint Manager admin center and sign in. After that, go to Apps > All apps > select an app.
  • Select Properties > Edit (next to Assignments) on the app page.
  • Next, you’ll need to find the Assignments page where you’ll select Add group under Group.
  • In the Select groups to include, choose the groups to which you want to assign this app > Select > Review + Save.
  • With all that done, you can select Save on the Review + Save page.

Data storage

One of the things that help to make Windows 365 as flexible as it is, is the way data is stored. Because Windows 365 allows users to access their Cloud PCs on almost any device, it’s only logical that data is stored on the Microsoft Cloud. Doing so ensures that users can remain as mobile as they need to be without worrying about carrying devices with them.

Organizations should know that Windows will store all Office apps, settings, and work data in the cloud. That means all Word documents, Excel spreadsheets PowerPoint presentations, or animations, among others, will be safely stored on the cloud.

This will not only help you to save on storage by backing up application data on the Azure Cloud, but it significantly enhances data security as well. When you consider the massive data breaches that we have witnessed in the last few years alone, storing application data on personal devices would present huge risks.

However, Windows 365 leverages the very high security standards of the Azure Cloud to ensure that your organization’s data remains extremely secure.

Wrap Up

Flexible working environments can be of great benefit to the development of an organization. The ability to engage people who can work remotely opens up so many possibilities.

For instance, your organization doesn’t have to limit its talent search to those who are available locally. Because of the features that the Windows 365 Cloud PC offers, certain projects can be completed by individuals working together and collaborating from different parts of the world.

And Microsoft ensures that you’ll be able to do that without difficulty by providing you with your favorite apps including Microsoft Teams, Microsoft Edge, Microsoft OneDrive, as well as your trusted Office apps.

In addition to the applications you get by default, you’ll also be able to use the various other apps that you’ve come to love. As long as they worked on recent Windows OS versions, then you shouldn’t have too many difficulties on your Cloud PC. So as far as features that enhance the user experience for Cloud PC users, the access to various apps certainly makes Windows 365 a better product.

11 Most Common Benefits of Adopting Windows 365

Windows 365 Cloud PC is a virtualization service that Microsoft introduced in 2021. This service is meant to enable users to stream their Windows 10 or 11 desktop, applications, settings, and content from the Microsoft Cloud to any device. As an organization, this means that your workers can experience the full Windows ecosystem for personal or corporate devices.

Regardless of where they are working from. Microsoft is determined to take the cloud computing experience to a higher level. If you’re familiar with the Chromebook experience, then imagine this being a somewhat similar type of experience.

But, Windows 365 isn’t the first or only virtualization technology that organizations can use. So the question is what are the benefits of Windows 365? Let’s find out.

1.    Remote access

The Windows 365 Cloud PC offers organizations the option to establish a more hybrid workforce because of the access that users can get. With ‘desktops’ being hosted on the Microsoft Cloud, workers can access their PCs from anywhere as long as they have an internet connection. And they wouldn’t even worry about having to use corporate-owned devices to gain access.

This level of remote access can help to redefine virtualization technology. No longer do workers need to be confined to their workstations or be within certain areas using certain devices.

Undoubtedly, this will be a great development for both businesses and workers alike. A Microsoft survey showed that 73% of workers would still want to work remotely so if Windows 365 can provide the necessary platform to do that then it would be well worth adopting.

2.    Lower hardware costs

In the last few decades, computers and mobile phones have evolved to become the extremely powerful devices that we have today. Mobile devices in particular are now so capable it’s basically like carrying around a PC in your pocket.

However, as good as these devices are, they come at a cost. And because of constantly increasing computing needs and the development of new technologies, organizations need to refresh their devices consistently. As one would expect, the costs of this exercise can be rather significant.

By using the Windows 365 Cloud PC, organizations can lower these costs. The heavy computing work will be carried out on the Microsoft Cloud so you won’t need to worry about constantly purchasing newer, more powerful devices.

3.    Adoptable by most businesses

Windows 365 is a service that just about any business can take advantage of. Whether you’re a massive organization or one with less than 300 employees, Windows can cater to you. Microsoft offers two subscription models, Windows 365 Business for smaller businesses and Windows 365 Enterprise for the larger ones. Both these models share the same range of features and give you twelve Cloud PC configurations to choose from.

At the lower end is the first configuration offering 1vCPU, 2GB RAM, and 64GB storage. All at a cost of $20. If the workers in question are frontline staff or only require access to lightweight CRM software then this configuration will suffice.

At the other end of the spectrum is a $158 option configuration powered by 8 vCPUs, with 32GB RAM and 512GB storage. This configuration would be ideal for individuals with heavy computing needs such as software engineers. Ultimately, there is an option that would be an ideal fit for your business.

4.    Security

If you’re going to use a platform that allows remote access to corporate resources then you’ll need high-level security. And Windows 365 has that. Microsoft recommends the use of Conditional Access to secure end-user access to Windows 365. To strengthen that even more, you should also use Azure AD Multi-Factor Authentication to authenticate users.

Another thing you can do is to connect Microsoft Defender for Endpoint to Cloud PC devices, apply device compliance policies to Cloud PCs, and use Conditional Access. This will help in identifying threats and setting devices as non-compliant. Security updates are critical as a timely patch will significantly enhance the security of your Cloud PC.

Fortunately, Microsoft automatically keeps its Cloud PCs up to date with the latest cumulative updates. All these security features help to ensure that hybrid work can be carried out with the highest level of security.

5.    Increased flexibility

One of the great advantages of VDI technology is how it allows workers to move back and forth between home and the office without affecting their work. As already mentioned, Windows 365 is taking this capability to an entirely new level. Being able to use personal devices allows you to be even more flexible in your movements.

To add to that, Microsoft has recently announced that it will be introducing an offline mode to Windows 365. This feature should make it even easier to use and work with your Cloud PC from any device.

Most people have probably been to areas where the internet connection wasn’t so great. And if you happen to be in this situation then normally all your work would have to stop. So this is just the kind of situation that Microsoft is aiming to address by introducing an offline mode.

The latter will come with a built-in sync service that will automatically resync your Cloud PC with the Windows 365 service once you have internet connectivity. As a result, there will be no data loss thus creating a seamless user experience and workflow.

6.    Efficient communication

Working remotely requires an efficient communication and collaboration platform if users are to maintain productivity levels. Fortunately, Cloud PC users have access to Microsoft Teams which is designed to address any communication issues that remote work can present.

Management can easily organize departments into various teams depending on the projects they are working on. Within these teams collaborating is relatively easy. Members can share documents, exchange instant messages, and have video or audio calls. Management can also organize meetings when the need arises so they can check in with their teams and discuss any pertinent matters.

And with Microsoft recently announcing that Teams background effects are being introduced to Windows 365, this can help boost attendance for online meetings. Participants will no longer need to worry about their backgrounds and meetings can also be more productive by keeping the focus on the subject of discussion.

7.    Compatibility

Most of us have certain applications that we cannot do without and that are essential to the way we work. So one would naturally wonder about whether their favorite applications will work on Windows 365.

Fortunately, according to Microsoft, Windows 365 was designed with compatibility in mind. This falls in line with the goal of trying to make clients’ apps compatible with the latest versions of Microsoft software.

So if you have apps that you were using on Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and Windows 10, then you’ll be glad to know that they will work on Windows 365 as well. And if you have any challenges with your apps then Microsoft can help you address them for free with an eligible subscription through the Fast Track App Assure program.

8.    Ease of use

Another feature that will help to increase how attractive Windows 365 is to various organizations is how easy the service will be to use. In fact, Microsoft has gone so far as to say that organizations won’t need to hire specialist IT professionals to set up and manage the Cloud PCs. This is something that is going to help organizations to reduce their costs even further because your in-house IT team can handle setting up and managing the Cloud PCs for your staff.

And with features such as easy management and instant start-up, this will enable users to comfortably work as they have done all along without any prior virtual work experience. Microsoft also designed it such that it should be possible to set up a Cloud PC and have it running within a matter of minutes.

Having it this way ensures that you don’t need to worry about significant disruptions as you set up your environment for Windows 365. Ultimately, the Cloud PC shouldn’t be a problem for IT staff because they can manage, deploy, and configure the PC environment just as they have done all along.

9.    Reduce your physical footprint

Making the transition to the cloud can significantly reduce your need for physical office space. Granted, you will probably still need to have physical premises for your business but it doesn’t need to be a massive investment in real estate.

The flexibility and remote access that accompanies Windows 365 means that for some organizations it may be possible to have a good part of their workforce working remotely full time. Another area that often requires a fair amount of space is on-premises infrastructure. The necessary network servers can take up a lot of space. Not only that, but the cost of maintaining the servers in addition to the security required can be huge.

10.    Disaster prevention strategy

Over the last few years, we have witnessed massive cybercrime events targeting various organizations. The hackers involved are going after both big and small organizations. With this problem seemingly here to stay, it means that businesses need to put in place measures that help to reduce the risk of suffering from such an attack.

By using Windows 365 and having access to the Microsoft Cloud, you can massively reduce the risk of suffering such a disaster. As leaders in the industry, Microsoft will ensure that your data is protected to the highest degree.

Furthermore, the distribution of data centers means that anyone using the Windows 365 Cloud PC won’t have to worry about a data center being possibly taken down. The redundancies in the system will make sure that your data remains secure and available.

The vast resources available to Microsoft mean that they are well placed to withstand just about any unforeseen disruptive events, such as hardware/software failure, natural disasters, and power outages, to ensure high application availability and business continuity.

11.    Widen your talent pool

Another great thing that adopting Windows 365 can do for you is improve your talent recruitment efforts. When a business embraces the Cloud PC and all its great features, it can avail itself of the best talent on the market. Individuals with specific skills are in very high demand, especially in the field of IT.

However, a small business in a small town may not always be able to attract the best talent. But, with Windows 365, businesses can begin overcoming this stumbling block. No longer will you be limited by physical location. Because of the accessibility that Windows 365 gives you, businesses can literally hire people from the other side of the planet. And with the communication and collaboration features that come with platforms like Microsoft Teams, team members can easily get projects done regardless of not being in the same physical location. The internet has been bringing the world together for decades but now with the Cloud PC, if you have certain skills then you can potentially get the job you need without needing to move anywhere.

Wrap up

When it comes to cloud computing, there are no doubts about the potential benefits of Windows 365 that individuals and organizations stand to gain. Access can improve, productivity can increase, and you may even see IT expenses go down. These are some of the things that Windows 365 wants to bring to the table. Microsoft can leverage the solid infrastructure and technology it already has with Azure Virtual Desktop as a great foundation for the Cloud PC.

This should give clients a service that can not only change the way organizations work but significantly enhance the work environment. The business environment as we know it is changing and hybrid working conditions are gaining popularity. So as organizations look to adapt to modern conditions, Windows 365 offers itself as an incredible service that has so much to offer.

Tackling Hybrid Work Environments With Cloud PC Integration

The last few years have seen an increase in the adoption of cloud-based solutions by a lot of organizations. As some employees were forced to work remotely, businesses have had to quickly develop hybrid work environments.

With a lot of discussion about what the future may look like for organizations concerning work environments, the importance of cloud technologies has grown even more. In 2021, Microsoft launched the Windows 365 Cloud PC in an effort to set the standard for what a hybrid work environment can actually look like.

The Cloud PC is meant to be an easy-to-use platform that addresses the challenges that organizations have been facing with cloud-based technologies.

Adapting to the future

Some people believe that as cloud technologies become more widely used, we may end up doing more work outside the office. And when you look at it from this perspective then organizations will need services like the Cloud PC to enable them to avail corporate data and assets to their employees from anywhere.

With plenty of organizations already heavily reliant on Windows products and services, the integration with the Cloud PC means that one can reasonably expect productivity levels to be maintained.

Especially when you consider that a massive 73% of workers would like to see flexible work conditions maintained. So if organizations can provide an ideal hybrid work environment that caters to the desires of their workers while maintaining or increasing productivity levels then it will be a great benefit to the business. And the Cloud PC could be perfect for organizations in the following scenarios:

  • Your staff is flexible enough to work in the office or from home.
  • You have staff working remotely using their personal devices.
  • You have plenty of staff who are temporary workers or you have a high staff turnover.
  • Your staff requires powerful computers that may not be easy to move around with.
  • You require a contingency plan that will enable you to have a PC or multiple in a matter of minutes if some disaster should occur.

Cloud PCs offer a different approach

VDIs have been a very popular platform over the years to meet the virtual technology needs of most organizations. However, legacy VDI has proven to be somewhat limited in what it can offer businesses. For instance, as the number of users and the distance from the office increases, VDI performance diminishes noticeably.

This slows down productivity and affects the organization’s performance as a whole. Not to mention that your VDI infrastructure can be very costly to maintain and also requires significant IT resources. With Windows 365’s Cloud PC, all these issues are addressed with various options available to cater to the needs of small and large enterprises alike.

Providing a simpler solution

Trying to modify existing VDI infrastructure to cater to modern needs can be an extremely challenging task. If you are to accommodate a hybrid work environment then ideally you want something easy to use. And the Cloud PC can give you that. The pricing is flexible and structured to meet the needs of different organizations.

You can also scale up or down as per your requirements. Thus, your organization will only need to pay for the resources you use. Moreover, the service is easy to set up and does away with complex, lengthy provisioning processes. Microsoft wants you to be up and running in under an hour. All of this adds up to give you a Cloud PC that can be of immense value to your business’ hybrid work environment.

Enhanced Windows 11 integration

Microsoft is constantly making improvements to the various products and services that support hybrid work environments. This year, Microsoft has announced new features that will improve the integration between Windows 11 and Windows 365.

All this was a part of the virtual event aptly titled ‘Windows Powers the Future of Hybrid Work‘. Some of the things to look forward to include the Windows 365 Switch. With this feature, users will be able to move between a Cloud instance and an actual desktop PC with a single click.

Another interesting feature is Windows 365 Boot which is going to allow you to boot straight to a Windows 365 Cloud PC. And it will only take a single step. In addition, when you find yourself in a situation where you have no internet connection, you can use Windows 365 Offline to continue working. And then when you manage to get back online there’ll be an automatic resync without losing any data.

Resolving accessibility issues

As previously alluded to above, legacy VDI systems for all they can do will probably start to become problematic the further away you are. So as one would expect, this can put significant restrictions on a hybrid work environment.

But, when it comes to the Cloud PC, one of its most attractive features is the accessibility that users get. This gives organizations a great incentive to migrate their desktop environment to the cloud.

When using the Cloud PC, users don’t need to worry about restricting their movements. They can easily move around and still access their Cloud PCs wherever they are. All you need is a decent internet connection and you can ‘carry your desktop’ with you in your pocket.

Flexible requirements

Another way that the Windows 365 Cloud PC addresses the challenges presented by hybrid work environments is by making the terms flexible. For instance, when it comes to devices, for the most part, it doesn’t really matter what device you are using. Whether you prefer Windows or Linux, Android or iOS, you can still access the Cloud PC.

This means that organizations need not worry about making significant investments in devices before embarking on the migration of their desktop environment to the cloud. Not only that, but users can be comfortable using the devices of their choice.

Furthermore, even when using multiple devices, you don’t need to worry about losing progress. If you need to use more than one device then you’re not going to be facing any accessibility issues.

What about security?

No one can deny the potential benefits that a service like the Cloud PC can bring to most organizations. However, with all the great features, arguably the biggest concern would be just how secure it is.

Can users really access corporate resources from anywhere using any device without compromising the organization’s cyber security? And the answer is yes.

Windows 365 has put measures in place to resolve some of those security concerns by using a Zero Trust architecture. A service that also comes with multi-factor authentication (MFA). This means that login or access attempts to the Cloud PC will be verified using integration with Microsoft Azure Active Directory.

Furthermore, you will get options to delegate specific permissions such as licensing, device management, and cloud PC management using specific rules. This is in addition to getting to use Microsoft Defender for Endpoint to improve your overall security posture.

In addition to all the above, there is also high level encryption for all stored data at rest, all managed disks running Windows 365-based Cloud PCs, as well as all network traffic to and from the PCs.

Employee collaboration

Communication and collaboration are things that can be severely hindered by hybrid working. This can create a situation that lowers staff morale and adversely affects productivity. With the Cloud PC, Microsoft has attempted to eliminate these issues by integrating Microsoft Teams into the service.

Using a collaboration platform is going to enhance hybrid working by creating a great team space that promotes the making of creative decisions and communication. When you can use features such as online video calling and screen sharing, multi-user real-time collaboration becomes easier.

It also helps to manage the isolation one may experience when working remotely. Other features such as chat function, document sharing, audio conferencing, and plenty more will only serve to enhance the hybrid work experience potentially boosting productivity.

Staff management

Effective management of staff members that are working remotely can be a nightmare of a problem. Communication issues can be common at the office so when you have remote staff it can be significantly worse.

Management can leverage Microsoft Teams to create channels for small groups within departments or for project-based collaboration. Doing this helps your team members to collaborate with greater ease.

However, even with this arrangement you still need effective file management to work quickly and efficiently. For this, you can use Sharepoint so that you can keep your files centralized and easy to access.

Another feature that will come in useful is the recording of meetings. This means all team members, in particular any who may have been absent, can get a copy of the meeting to review at their convenience.

And when it comes to project management, you can make use of OneNote to view and manage the tasks of all team members. So when you take these and all the other features available, you’ll get a platform that can significantly enhance staff management and overall team culture.

IT expenses

Changing the way your organization operates can often come at a hefty cost. With that in mind, Microsoft wants to lower IT expenses for businesses looking to establish a hybrid work environment. This is something you can see in the hardware department. Because users will have desktops running in the cloud, you don’t need to make any significant investments in new devices.

In addition, because the Cloud PC handles the heavy computing on the Azure cloud, your organization’s hardware refresh rate will potentially decrease. Furthermore, with Windows 365 being easy to set up, you’ll save even more by not needing to bring in specialist IT professionals. Your IT people will be able to deploy and manage the configuration of any PC pretty much like they have been doing all along. 

Licensing concerns

Your organization may be rightly concerned as to how using the Cloud PC will affect their current licenses. Do you need to pay more for Microsoft services? But, Microsoft has set it up such that if you already have a Microsoft 365 E3 license, for instance, then you won’t need to pay twice for the same service. This means that you can continue to use the software you have paid for and that includes Windows 10.

So as far as the Windows 365 licenses are concerned, all you need is to pay for access to the virtual PC service. The latter will be maintained by Microsoft on its vast network of servers with the aim of running the software that you already have. Therefore, it’s basically like buying a computer and then purchasing the operating system and applications that you need.

The licensing requirements are as follows:

  • On Windows Pro endpoints: 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).

Wrap up

A lot of organizations have countless concerns about establishing a hybrid work environment. These concerns can understandably be a stumbling block. However, Microsoft has introduced the Windows 365 Cloud PC to address the challenges that organizations typically face with hybrid environments.

The Cloud PC is easy to set up and offers several different options to cater to the various organizations that may be interested in Windows 365. This gives businesses a service that their employees can use to create flexible work schedules. Users can easily remain productive wherever they may be using just about any device.

As some would say, hybrid work environments are the future. So, if that is the case, then taking advantage of a platform like the Windows 365 Cloud PC would be a great choice to make.

Integrated 365 and Citrix HDX Team Up Again

In an ever-evolving tech environment, organizations are seeking solutions that can keep pace with their increasing needs. So as giants in this space, it comes as no surprise that Microsoft and Citrix have maintained a working relationship over the decades.

As cloud-based technology brings greater flexibility to the working environment, these two businesses are looking to further enhance the way organizations operate.

In a recent announcement, Microsoft informed the tech world that it will be bringing to the table a new solution that will integrate Citrix’s high-definition user experience (HDX) technology with Windows 365.

With growing distributed workforces across the globe, this integration can help to empower users anywhere to easily access their cloud-hosted Windows desktops.

Embracing flexible work models

The last couple of years saw the world having to deal with a global pandemic that forced most organizations to rethink their work strategies. Restrictions in a lot of regions meant that businesses had to make changes to not only their physical workspaces but to the overall workforce management policies.

As this was unfolding, both Microsoft and Citrix saw the need to aid businesses by providing potential solutions. By working together, these two enterprises aimed to help enterprises accelerate their move to the cloud.

Cloud-based solutions have played a monumental role in helping businesses to adapt to a new working model that has enormous potential for development. And as we have witnessed with Windows 365 over the last year, cloud solutions are a great option for enhancing your organization’s work environment.

Recap of Windows 365

For those who may be as yet unfamiliar with Windows 365, this relatively new product is a Cloud PC subscription service that enables users to access their Windows desktops from anywhere using any device.

Launched in 2021, Windows 365 is built on the solid foundation that is Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD). However, there are several differences between Windows 365 and AVD such as the fact that with the former, each user is assigned a personal cloud virtual desktop service. In simple terms, this means that each user receives their own Windows 10 or 11 machine in the cloud with a local profile.

Moreover, those interested in the service need not worry about device compatibility. This is because all Windows 10 and Windows 11 devices are compatible. In addition, sessions can also be streamed to hardware running macOS, iPadOS, Linux, and Android.

Undoubtedly, this service will offer plenty of benefits as more and more organizations look to migrate to the cloud. Arguably the biggest benefit will have to do with facilitating remote work. This will enable businesses to be more flexible with their workforce.

Therefore, hybrid workers will also get a platform that makes it easier for them to complete their various projects whether working from home or at the office. And with the heavy computing work being carried out on the cloud, enterprises no longer need to constantly refresh employees’ hardware thus making huge cost savings.

The Citrix experience is not new

As already mentioned, Microsoft and Citrix have a history of working together so this new development shouldn’t be all too surprising. In fact, all you have to do is look at Microsoft’s Azure Virtual Desktop where Citrix HDX is currently being used.

Users have been promised advanced security features ensuring that only authenticated users can access data and apps on AVD virtual machines and Azure resources. Combining Citrix Analytics with your end-to-end analytics means that you will get a much better analytics process guaranteed to improve overall performance.

Also, you can look forward to having virtual apps and desktops embedded within a complete digital workspace platform. With this, users get a feature that organizes, guides and automates work, with options for additional features. The solutions that Microsoft and Citrix have partnered up on have yielded results such as the following:

  • Citrix on Azure

In this instance, we have seen the possibility of greatly reducing overall IT costs while simultaneously increasing efficiency with Citrix DaaS solutions on Azure. Not only that, but your organization can also benefit from increasing the efficiency of your data center by leveraging Citrix ADC for Azure-hosted applications.

To top it off, IT will be glad to note that by using Citrix SD WAN and Azure Virtual WAN Service, you can vastly simplify and optimize branch office network deployment for your organization.

  • Citrix on Microsoft 365

For any who have had any experience here, they will have noted how using Citrix DaaS solutions for Windows 10 and Azure Virtual Desktop can be instrumental in cutting costs as well as reducing complexities.

Moreover, Citrix solutions for Office 365 are perfectly designed to help your organization to both secure and enhance productivity as well as optimize the user experience. Lastly, you can also leverage Citrix Endpoint Management Apps and EMS in a way that will see your organization expand enterprise mobility and embrace digital workspaces.

So, from just the few features that I have gone over here, it’s clear to see that Windows 365 users probably have a lot to potentially look forward to.

Examining Citrix HDX technology

When assessing this new partnership, it’s important to understand what exactly HDX is and what it has to offer. According to Citric, HDX “is a suite of proprietary technologies that delivers a high-definition experience to users of virtual desktops and virtual applications.”  

HDX is designed to offer users high-quality service and reliability. It aims to counter the network challenges that we face given that virtual app and desktop traffic has to compete with everything else on a network.

Through a combination of Independent Computing Architecture (ICA) traffic prioritization, branch office caching, and ICA protocol optimizations, HDX can give you reliable, high-quality service.

Thus users can expect an enhanced experience when using virtual apps and desktops across public clouds and on-prem platforms. And this even applies when using difficult networks. HDX also gives you remoting technologies that can offer flawless graphics and video with smooth motion and clear audio.

Not only that, but support is available as well for various devices and peripherals. Furthermore, users can benefit from a great experience using platforms like Microsoft Teams on which there will be improved security and management. 

Is it already accessible?

According to the statement that Microsoft has given, this new integrated solution is something that is still in development. The statement only goes so far as to tell us that Citrix HDX technology will be coming to Windows 365 later this year.

IT admins can look forward to a far more streamlined user licensing process. Users will also benefit from being able to seamlessly switch to Citrix clients through Microsoft Endpoint Manager and windows 365.com.

Citrix VP of Product Management Calvin Hsu had this to say:

Citrix and Microsoft are committed to delivering industry-leading solutions to enable secure, remote work. This joint engineering effort brings unique Citrix high-definition technologies to end-users and sophisticated management controls to IT, extending the value of Cloud PCs.”

What Citrix brings to Microsoft clients

One of the principal reasons that companies come together is to combine their strengths so that they can offer their clients better service. Carisa Stringer, Citrix Vice President of Product Marketing, put it clearly when she said:

Work today is all about flexibility and choice. Together, Citrix and Microsoft can provide a new generation of Citrix and Windows 365 users with easy access to the apps and data they need to work when, where, and how they choose, leveraging familiar Citrix interfaces and client capabilities.”

Given that Citrix is on the list of Windows 365 Approved Partners, we can fully expect this partnership to yield improved solutions for clients. Users of the Cloud PC can be excited about the possibilities that may come about from this partnership.

When you combine Citrix’s unquestionable capacity for delivering great virtualization technologies with Windows 365’s features that enable clients to stream content, apps, and settings from the Microsoft cloud to any device, then there are plenty of advantages to be had. These will include:

  • Giving users the ability to quickly and easily switch to Citrix clients through windows365.microsoft.com.
  • The optimization of voice and video performance for multimedia applications.
  • Enabling users to take advantage of a high-definition, interactive experience across a large variety of endpoint devices and peripherals.
  • The application of granular policy controls to enhance security and protect corporate data.
  • Can also seamlessly integrate with third-party identity solutions.

Windows 365 is a game changer

In a world that is realizing the importance of cloud-based solutions, Windows 365 has placed itself as a great option to simplify the virtualization experience for users. It’s so simple that Microsoft suggests that businesses won’t even need to have expert IT teams to set up and run the Windows 365 environment.

By offering clients a Cloud PC that you can acess anywhere and on any device, Microsoft is offering organizations an incredible service that facilitates remote access. And regardless of the size of your organization, there are bound to be options that will suit your needs.

Windows 365 allows you to configure the size, CPU, and RAM of Cloud PCs thus offering you great scalability and flexibility. This simply means that you can expand or reduce your processing and storage capacity depending on your requirements.

The Cloud PC is also going to help your organization’s hybrid workforce to operate seamlessly. Users can access their Cloud PCs and do their work without disruption whether on-premises or from home.

Since the PC is hosted on the Microsoft server, you don’t lose any progress and you can pick up right where you left off. Furthermore, you’ll be glad to know that the Cloud PC easily integrates with other Microsoft tools and applications making the user experience even better.

This helps to eliminate the problem that Microsoft users often face when trying to use their preferred tools and applications across various devices and operating systems. And when you consider the high levels of security and zero-trust architecture that Microsoft has put in place, using this ground-breaking service should be an incredible and secure experience.

Bringing futuristic solutions to clients

As employees continuously adopt new technologies in their work environments, it is the goal of Microsoft and Citrix to provide you with an optimized user experience as well as easy access to all the apps and insights you need.

The solutions being offered are intended to facilitate organizations’ migration to the cloud as well as speed up the adoption of digital workspaces and virtual desktops. And you can look at the partnership that these two enterprises have already built around Microsoft Teams as a great example of what organizations stand to gain.

By delivering this within the Citrix Workspace experience, users can benefit from higher levels of performance leading to increased productivity.

Ultimately, integrating Citrix HDX with Windows 365 improves the overall process of how users can leverage cloud-based solutions. The agility that organizations will get in combination with highly secure networks and communications are just why partnerships like this are essential.

Wrap Up

Although we are yet to receive any comprehensive information on this new development, we can look at existing areas of partnership to see what is potentially in store. As we have already seen, these two enterprises have worked together for decades and have given clients great solutions that have enhanced the working environment.

The last few years have proven that the ability to operate without depending uniquely on on-prem solutions can be the difference between maintaining productivity levels during troubling times and operations shutting down. 

 And with Windows 365 offering enterprises a service that is simplifying the way that they can migrate to and utilize the cloud, the partnership with Citrix HDX will make that service even better.

Everything You Want To Know: The Anatomy of Windows 365

There is no denying how cloud-based solutions have evolved over the decades to become an integral part of most organizations’ operations. Businesses have grown to depend on these services to improve the ease of doing business as well as bolster their cyber security.

With Windows 365, Microsoft enables businesses to operate more effectively as well as offer their workforce greater flexibility.

The arrival of Windows 365 coincides with an increasing need in the workplace to offer employees more agility. Organizations can take advantage of virtualization technology to increase their talent pool by hiring the best people from anywhere in the world.

By using services like Windows 365, these individuals can easily communicate and collaborate with team members from across the globe. Given how much there is to gain from Windows 365, I will today be going through everything you may need to know about this platform.

Breaking new ground

In July of 2021, Microsoft announced a brand new service that would enable users to access Cloud PCs from anywhere. Although similar features have been available through virtualization and remote access software, Windows 365 has now become the first official service from Microsoft.

As businesses increasingly embrace the idea of a hybrid work environment, Windows 365 is aiming to be at the forefront of the services that potential clients will be looking into. By streaming Windows 10 or Windows 11 onto almost any device, Microsoft will offer users the ability to take their desktops anywhere.

And Microsoft has assured clients that Cloud PCs will be highly secure thus users will be able to work remotely with greater peace of mind.

Accessing your desktop on the cloud will also be relatively easy because all you need is a modern browser or Microsoft’s Remote Desktop app. So as long as your internet connection is good enough to stream videos then you’ll be able to access your Cloud PC on most devices.

Users will get instant access to their Cloud PCs and can stream Windows sessions with all of their same apps, tools, data, and settings across Macs, iPads, Linux machines, and Android devices.

And according to Wangui McKelvey, a general manager for Microsoft 365, “You can pick up right where you left off, because the state of your Cloud PC remains the same, even when you switch devices.

Windows 365’s solid foundation

Ideally, any service that you want to invest in needs to have a proven track record. However, given that Windows 365 is still less than a year old there’s not much of a track record to go over.

This is why it’s important to understand the foundation on which Windows 365 is built. Because the company that has given us Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD) is the same that is responsible for the Windows 365 Cloud PC.

And if there’s anything that AVD has shown us it is that Microsoft has a good handle on cloud computing services. This is vital for you when considering Windows 365 because Microsoft has built it on its Azure infrastructure.

So you can rest assured that if you go with Windows 365, you’ll be investing in a service that is founded on a tried and tested platform. Therefore, we can take a look at AVD’s track record and some of what it has been able to offer clients.

Azure Virtual Desktop has proven to be a cost-effective alternative to scaling up a traditional virtual desktop environment in your own data center. The reduction in expenses is something that could very well help you to have a better ROI.

AVD has also proven to be invaluable to companies because of how it lets organizations control apps and data while allowing their employees to access those resources on their own devices.

This means that you can offer your workers greater flexibility in how they work while still retaining overall control and keeping security standards high. Although you could get some of these benefits from a traditional VDI environment, the service that you get from Microsoft comes at a better price point with better security.

One of the greatest benefits that you will gain from investing in Windows 365 is that it will allow you to experience Windows 10 or Windows 11 at its very best. That’s in addition to having the full power of Microsoft 365 in your hands. AVD has built a reputation for offering clients a smooth experience when using these Microsoft products. And with Windows 365 being based on AVD, you can expect the experience to be even better.

Selecting an option

Microsoft wants to avail its Windows 365 services to as many organizations as possible. Obviously, that is not going to be a simple task considering the vast differences and needs between smaller companies and large enterprises.

However, Microsoft is determined to cater to the needs of the businesses that require this virtualization service. To that end, Microsoft offers us two different editions – Windows 365 Business and Windows 365 Enterprise.

The former is designed for smaller organizations while the Enterprise edition is aimed at larger ones. And the great thing about these options is that they share a lot of the same range of features.

Windows 365 Business

This edition of Windows 365 is going to be targeting smaller businesses that require no more than 300 Cloud PCs. The service allows these companies to get a simple way to purchase, deploy, and manage Cloud PCs.

So if you do sign up for Windows 365 Business, you can easily provide Cloud PCs to any of your users that need them. Doing so allows them to stream their apps, data, content, settings, and storage from the Microsoft cloud.

Purchasing Windows 365 subscriptions can be done either through the Windows 365 product site or via the Microsoft 365 admin center. And once you have purchased your subscription, you can assign licenses to users in your organization using the Microsoft 365 admin center. As far as sizing options are concerned, there are fixed-price licenses for the different Cloud PC sizes. During the assigning of licenses to users, you need to choose a size option. The options come with different numbers of CPUs, RAM, and storage to cater to the different work needs. The table below details this information:

* Microsoft is retiring the first option (1vCPU) so clients are encouraged to select the 2vCPU option as the minimum configuration going forward.

The Windows 365 Business edition doesn’t have any licensing pre-requirements to purchase and deploy. Also, Microsoft has simplified the provisioning process which will use the default configurations.

After Cloud PC licenses have been assigned, provisioning of those Cloud PCs will happen automatically using a standard image. When it comes to Windows updates, the default Windows Update for Business settings will be configured for users.

And if you have an Intune license then these settings can be edited. Moreover, device management is only going to be limited to the assigning and unassigning of licenses in the Microsoft Admin Center. Although, those that have Intune licenses may get some device management via Microsoft Endpoint Manager.

Users will be able to access their Cloud PCs from windows 365.microsoft.com or alternatively, they can use the Microsoft Remote Desktop app. During usage, users can restart, reset, rename, and troubleshoot their Cloud PCs.

Windows 365 Enterprise

The second option that Microsoft gives clients is for larger organizations that have significantly greater computing needs. Unlike with the Business edition, in this case, users will require licensing for Windows 10 or 11 Enterprise, Microsoft Endpoint Manager, Azure AD P1. The networking situation will see the networking go through a client’s Azure VNet since it’s not part of the license.

As the provisioning process goes on, each business can customize and configure the process to meet their specific needs. It’s the role of your admins to choose the network, configure user permissions, and then assign the policy to an Azure AD group.

With that done you can then provision the Cloud PCs using either standard gallery images or custom images. Microsoft Endpoint Manager can be used for managing Windows updates as well as for troubleshooting purposes.

Users can access their Cloud PCs in the same way as Enterprise clients from the Windows 365 website or via the Microsoft Remote Desktop app. Furthermore, users can restart, rename, and troubleshoot their Cloud PCs and will be assigned a standard user role by default.

However, the admin can change that in the Microsoft Endpoint Manager admin center. Windows 365 Enterprise offers high-end security measures through the use of features such as Conditional Access and integration with Defender for Endpoint.

In addition, for clients with E5 licensing, their Cloud PCs will respond to Defender for Endpoint policies and appear in MDE dashboards.

Cost of service

Regardless of how good a product may be, choosing whether or not to subscribe may ultimately come down to cost. As we’ve already discussed above, Microsoft offers two editions of Windows 365 and both of them have a range of configurations that clients can pick from. This should help all businesses that want Cloud PCs to find something that can fit within their budget.

So small businesses with less than 300 users and massive organizations with countless users can all potentially find a subscription that suits them. The pricing model has fees starting from $20 per user per month for the lowest-end SKU, up to $162 per user per month for the most expensive one. In addition, unlike with the consumption-based pricing model that you get with Azure Virtual Desktop, Windows 365 gives you fixed monthly subscriptions. And if you need to scale up then you are given the option of getting a different subscription as well.

Clients with the Windows 365 Business subscription can get a single virtual core, 2GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage for the starting price of $20.

However, this fee is only available for clients that have Windows Hybrid Benefit. The latter is Microsoft’s Bring-Your-Own license model that is designed to help clients to apply existing (or new) licenses toward the cost of a product. If not, then that cost goes up to $24.

But, if your organization requires a lot more, you can pay $158 for eight virtual cores, 32GB of RAM, and 512GB of storage. The same situation regarding Windows Hybrid Benefit applies here and so without it, the fee goes up to $162.

The pricing model is pretty much consistent and the range of prices remains the same for Windows 365 Enterprise clients. Those that aren’t looking for a lot of computing resources can get a single virtual core with 2GB of RAM and 64GB of storage for the same $20.

However, if your computing needs are a lot greater then you can get the option that offers eight virtual cores, 32GB of RAM, and 512GB of storage for $158 per user per month.

Cloud PC Provisioning

The provisioning process in Windows 365 is an automated one that is going to:

  • create a Cloud PC virtual machine.
  • set it up for the end-user.
  • perform any other necessary tasks to ready the Cloud PC for use.
  • send access information to the user.

Life is made easier for admins as they only need to furnish a few configuration details to get the provisioning process going. Once that’s done Cloud PCs will be automatically provisioned for all users who have a Windows 365 license and matching configuration details.

Because this process is a one-time per user and per license process, a user and license pair can only have a single Cloud PC provisioned for them. The complete process is going to follow the steps below:

  • Starts with the creation of a provisioning policy to manage access to the Cloud PCs. Provisioning policies are key to the entire process as they are responsible for building, configuring, and availing Cloud PCs to end-users. Each policy will require you to provide details regarding the on-premises network connection, the image used to create each Cloud PC, and an Azure AD user group.
  • Assignment of a Windows 365 license to users in the Azure AD user group will begin the provisioning process. And the provisioning of the Cloud PC will be carried out automatically by Windows 365 after which it will then send the necessary access information to the user. The automation is going to proceed in 3 phases that will be invisible to the administrator.
  • The last part of the process involves the end-user receiving the necessary access information that will allow them to sign in to the Windows Cloud PC from anywhere.

Windows 365 Architecture

Virtual network connectivity

All Cloud PCs are going to have a virtual network interface card (NIC) in Microsoft Azure. There are two available NIC management options:

  • Bringing an Azure subscription or managing the NIC won’t be necessary for those using Azure AD Join and a Microsoft-hosted network.
  • NICs are created by Windows 365 in your Azure subscription in instances where you bring your own network and use an OPNC.

The configuration of your OPNC is what will determine how the NICs are attached to an Azure Virtual Network. There are many regions in which Windows 365 is supported and to control which region is used you can:

  • Choose the Microsoft-hosted network as well as an Azure region.
  • Choose an Azure virtual network from your Azure subscription during the creation of the OPNC.

The region selected is what determines where the Cloud PC will be created and hosted. However, with your own virtual network access can be extended between your current Azure regions to other Azure regions supported by Windows 365.

Microsoft Endpoint Manager integration

Management of all Cloud PCs is handled with MEM. The latter along with associated Windows components have various network endpoints that must be allowed through the Virtual Network. If you don’t use MEM to manage Apple and Android devices then you can ignore the endpoints.

The system requires you to only grant access to a subset of endpoints based on your MEM tenant location. Microsoft recommends allowing access to an entire region and not just a specific endpoint to allow for the possible relocation of tenants within a region.

Identity services

Windows 365 relies on both Azure AD and on-premises AD DS. With Azure AD you get:

  • User authentication for Windows 365.
  • Device identity services for MEM via Hybrid Azure AD Join or Azure AD Join.

For the configuration of Cloud PCs to use Hybrid Azure AD Join, AD DS offers:

  • On-premises domain join for Cloud PCs.
  • User authentication for RDP connections.

And for the configuration of Cloud PCs to use Azure AD Join, Azure AD gives you:

  • The domain join mechanism for the Cloud PCs.
  • User authentication for RDP connections.

Azure AD

User authentication and authorization for the Windows 365 web portal and Remote Desktop client apps is provided by Azure AD. Azure AD Conditional Access can be included to offer.

  • multi-factor authentication
  • sign-in risk management
  • restrictions based on location
  • device compliance controls
  • session limits

Active Directory Domain Services

Microsoft gives you the option of having your Cloud PCs either Hybrid Azure AD Joined or Azure AD Joined. Your Cloud PCs will require domain joining to an AD DS domain if you want to use Hybrid Azure AD Join. And that domain should be synchronized with Azure AD. The domain’s domain controllers need to be hosted in Azure or on-premises.

If it’s the latter, connectivity should be made from Azure to the on-prem environment and the type can be either Azure Express Route or site-to-site VPN. The connectivity should be set up to enable communication from the Cloud PCs to the domain controllers needed by AD.

Hosted on behalf of” architecture

This type of architecture enables Microsoft services to attach hosted Azure services to a customer subscription. Using this type of connectivity model allows a Microsoft service to provide options other than the usual consumption-based services. These include software-as-a-service and user-licensed services.

All Cloud PC connectivity comes from the virtual NIC. Because of “hosted on behalf of” architecture, you have Cloud PCs that exist in the subscription owned by Microsoft. This basically means the costs for running and managing the infrastructure are borne by Microsoft.

Azure Virtual Desktop connectivity

AVD is responsible for the provision of Cloud PC connectivity. Thus, there aren’t going to be any inbound connections directly from the internet to the Cloud PC. Rather, the connections will be established from:

  • The Cloud PC to the AVD endpoints.
  • The Remote Desktop clients to AVD endpoints.

Microsoft recommends the use of Service Tags for AVD to identify these endpoints. By doing so you should be able to ease the configuration of network security controls. It’s also worth noting that configuring your Cloud PCs to make these connections is not a pre-requisite.

The integration of AVD connectivity components into gallery or custom images is seamlessly performed by Windows 365. Furthermore, third-party connection brokers aren’t going to be supported on Windows 365 Cloud PCs.

How businesses will benefit

Having a great-sounding service availed to you is one thing, but after looking into what Windows 365 is, you still need to know how exactly this product will help your business. After all, there are plenty of great services out there that just aren’t a good fit for your business. So just what are the benefits that Windows brings to an organization?

Remote access

Most people across the globe have probably familiarized themselves with remote work over the last couple of years. Although plenty of businesses saw the need for remote access during the pandemic, the need for it has grown beyond the pandemic scenario.

One of the things that some people may be looking at when considering career opportunities is the availability of remote access. This may just prove to be key in attracting as well as retaining the best people you can find for your organization.

The Windows 365 Cloud PC gives users the ability to carry their desktops with them wherever they may be. Therefore, access to the cloud is going to be simple and hassle-free because users won’t need to be at a workstation in the office to access corporate resources.

Lower hardware costs

If you tell any business that you can potentially help to lower operating costs then most would probably at least want to give you a few moments of their time. And this is what Windows 365 aims to achieve with the Cloud PC. The cost of purchasing high-end computers for the office that can meet the needs of the various users is no small one.

But, when your PC is running in the cloud then the actual device that you need is less important. Microsoft allows users to access their Cloud PCs from most devices including those running macOS, iOS, Android, and Linux.

This means that users don’t necessarily need to invest in new devices. Not only that, but in the long run, you may not need to refresh your hardware as often thus lowering your expenses even further.

Secure hybrid work

As attractive as the possibility of working remotely may be, without top-notch security the option is not viable. So Microsoft has enhanced security measures by implementing Zero Trust principles enabling each request to be fully authenticated, authorized, and encrypted before access is granted.

Add to that the fact that data is not stored on the physical devices but on the cloud and you have even more protection around your data. These measures should help to assuage concerns about the security of remote work as well as the risk of security breaches.

Not to forget as well that Windows 365 clients can benefit from the already existing solutions that are part of Microsoft Endpoint Manager. Microsoft has also made specific security recommendations that I will be addressing below.

Simple to use

Another feature that Microsoft puts forward as a highly attractive one for Windows 365 clients is how easy the service will be to use.

In fact, Microsoft has gone so far as to say that organizations won’t need to hire specialist IT professionals to set up and manage the Cloud PCs. Features such as easy management and instant start-up enable users to have the ability to work traditionally without any prior virtual work experience. This is something that may also help you to lower overall operating costs.

Furthermore, your IT staff can manage, deploy, and configure the PC environment just as they have done all along.

Windows 365 security measures

Continuing on from what I touched on above, there are other security features that are important to know. Microsoft gives Windows 365 certain capabilities straight out of the box that are meant to enhance your security. Just as you have with your physical computers, Windows 365 Cloud PCs will come with Microsoft Defender. This helps to ensure that your device is secure from the first-run experience.

Also, the provisioning of the Cloud PCs is done using a gallery image. To ensure improved security, the image will have the latest updates for Windows 10 through Windows Update for Business. There are some differences that must be noted regarding the security measures for Windows 365 Business and those for Windows 365 Enterprise.

Windows 365 Business

Since Windows 365 Business is a service aimed at smaller organizations, particularly those that may not have IT staff, users on this edition are granted local admin rights to their Cloud PCs.

So this situation basically replicates what happens with a lot of small businesses whereby users purchase computers and retain local admin rights.

For IT departments that want to use Windows 365 Business for particular cases, they need to follow standard security practices if they intend to make those users standard users on their devices. To use MEM for this approach, you’ll need to follow the guidelines below:

  • The process starts with device configuration to enroll the devices in MEM

               using automatic enrollment.

  • The next step involves the management of the Local Administrators group.

               This can be done using Azure AD or MEM.

  • In addition, it would be a good idea to have Microsoft Defender Attack

               Surface Reduction (ASR) rules enabled. This would be very useful because

               these rules are in-depth defense mitigations for specific security concerns,

               such as blocking credential stealing from the Windows local security

               authority subsystem.

Windows 365 Enterprise

When it comes to Windows 365 Enterprise you’ll start to see some significant differences because this edition was designed for organizations that have dedicated IT teams.

This makes things slightly easier for IT as you have a system that is molded on the management and security that Microsoft Endpoint Manager provides. All Cloud PCs in Windows 365 Enterprise configure users as standard users by default.

However, admins still have the ability to make exceptions on a per-user basis. Furthermore, all Cloud PCs will be enrolled in MEM with reporting of Microsoft Defender Antivirus alerts.

You’ll also get the ability to onboard into the full Microsoft Defender for Endpoint capabilities. Microsoft makes the following security recommendations for users of Windows 365 Enterprise:

  • Users should stick to standard Windows 10 security practices. This also means restricting access to your Cloud PC using local administrator privileges.
  • You need to deploy Windows 365 security baselines to your Cloud PC from MEM. Furthermore, you should utilize Microsoft Defender to protect your endpoints, especially all Cloud PCs.
  • Taking advantage of Azure AD conditional access is a must. With features such as MFA and user/sign-in risk mitigation, you can significantly reduce the risk of unauthorized access to your Cloud PC.

Communication and collaboration

Windows 365 not only provides a platform that facilitates remote work for your organization but also ensures that team members can work together regardless of location. Clients can take full advantage of the power of Microsoft Teams to ensure that communication in your organization happens smoothly.

By using Teams, your organization can set up your environment in a way that best suits you. And when you are ready to use Microsoft Teams, the users can download the Teams client from https://teams.microsoft.com/downloads. And just like Windows 365 itself, you can install the Teams client on various devices such as Windows, Mac, or Linux PCs as well as on your Android or iOS devices. However, you’ll need to ensure that all these users have the necessary Teams license.

Some of the more important elements in Teams include chat, teams, and channels. With chat, you can have one or more users talking, sharing files, or meeting privately. Teams will enable collaboration on any project at any time and it can be visible to the entire organization or just the relevant team members. And then channels can help segment topics, projects, or anything else within teams in a way that suits the way you would like to work. Meetings and conferences are two major things that businesses need to conduct to keep things moving smoothly. By using a Teams or Skype for Business client, individuals can participate in meetings to which they’ve been invited. Even if you happen to have a bad internet connection you can still participate in meetings via audio conferencing. All you need is your regular phone, the conference phone number, and the meeting ID. Although meetings are enabled by default, you can still retain control of the meeting experience.

For smaller businesses with fewer than 300 users, you can utilize Microsoft 365 Teams Phone with Calling Plan to establish an office phone system without having a complex, costly on-premises phone system. The system will include a phone system menu, caller ID, voice mail, and other great features. So all of these features are going to enable the Windows 365 Cloud PC experience to basically simulate the office experience. Those working remotely won’t miss out on collaborating with their colleagues, sharing ideas, and crucially maintaining social connections with others. Without this, working remotely could quickly become a difficult, isolated affair.

Easy administration management

As one is going through the information that we have on Windows 365, it becomes abundantly clear that there are countless benefits for end-users. But, your IT admins will also want to know if they’ll also see changes when compared to other services. And the reality is, the ease of use principle that Microsoft applies to Windows 365 extends to your IT team as well. From the management perspective, there is plenty to be excited about starting with the fact that there is no need to have headaches about the infrastructure you need to set up to get the Cloud PC experience. Microsoft handles that side of things. Also, admins won’t need to get certified in anything else or learn new management tools. This is because Windows 365 is designed for all organizations even those without expert IT pros on staff to be able to run it without difficulty. Furthermore, you’ll be happy to know that the way you currently manage your physical devices with Microsoft Endpoint Manager will for the most part be similar to the management of Cloud PCs. A good example of this is that if you navigate to the All Devices list in Microsoft Endpoint Manager, you’ll see both your physical and Cloud PCs listed side by side.

Admins will also find that the deployment process is not complicated at all. For users to get a Cloud PC assigned to them, there are pretty much just two requirements that need to be met. They need to have the necessary license in addition to being part of an Azure AD Group that’s assigned to a provisioning policy. The process starts in the Microsoft Admin Center where you assign licenses similarly to how you would for other Microsoft 365 services. You can have a licensing admin take care of this particular task. After that, you can head over to Active Users and perform the assignment. With that done, you can now give users Cloud PCs and set them up with Microsoft 365 as well. As soon as a user is added to a group, the Cloud PC provisioning process will be launched and it won’t be long before the Cloud PC is ready for use. And with Windows 365 using a fixed price per user per month model, there’s no extra workload involving tracking, utilization, or keeping idle resources running.

Wrap Up

Windows 365 is a service that has countless different applications that can help businesses, both large and small, to completely change their IT environment. Taking advantage of the Cloud PC can mean potential changes in policy about who and how your organization hires. The ability to give employees remote access without compromising collaboration gives you a far deeper pool of talent to choose from when looking to hire people. The cost of the service is something that can also help your business by reducing expenditure on hardware. Not having to provide employees with brand new high-end computers and reducing hardware refresh rates can go a long way in improving your bottom line. In addition, when you consider how Microsoft has designed Windows 365 to be easy to use then you begin to see a platform that can change the virtualization sector. Undoubtedly, there’s still a lot more to come as the service improves but for now, Windows 365 has certainly offered a lot to be excited about.