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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.