Cloud technology has evolved rapidly over the last few decades. Right now, it is very much integral to the operations of many businesses. Especially as we consider the unprecedented disruptions that have been brought about by the global pandemic since early 2020. Moving forward, a hybrid work environment is increasingly becoming the norm. And Windows 365 looks to provide clients with the digital solutions necessary to bring about technological transformation.
This Windows suite of solutions will make it even simpler for employees to remain connected and collaborate regardless of whether they are working from home or are in the office. Cloud computing can undoubtedly be a key driver in the success of any business.
Windows in the cloud
Microsoft’s latest offering is certainly looking to take cloud technology to a higher level. Just to recap, Windows 365 is a subscription-based cloud PC service. In a way, you could describe it as an Operating System-as-a-Service solution.
All you need to do is purchase a subscription and you can remotely access a Windows desktop in any modern web browser. The service will provide you with a consistent experience across any device.
So if you happen to be working on a project with several application windows open and then you disconnect, that exact same state will be restored when you reconnect, regardless of whether you’re using the same device. Built on Microsoft’s Azure Virtual Desktop technology, Windows 365 could just be a game-changer.
Explaining cloud computing
Cloud computing refers to the robust delivery of on-demand computing services over the internet that are paid for according to your needs. These services can include servers, storage, applications, databases, networking, intelligence, analytics, and processing power. Because you only pay for the services you need, your business can lower its operating costs, run infrastructure more efficiently, and scale accordingly as per your needs.
The most common types of cloud services that you’ll come across include, Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) along with Platform as a Service (PaaS). Another is Software as a Service (SaaS). IaaS allows you to rent IT infrastructure such as servers and virtual machines from a cloud services provider.
PaaS can help developers to work more efficiently when creating web or mobile apps. This is because users can rent an on-demand environment to develop, test, deliver, and manage software applications. And then with SaaS, service providers can deliver software applications to clients over the internet on a subscription basis.
And Microsoft is looking to enhance the technology even further. As Satya Nadella, chairman and CEO of Microsoft put it, “We are building the cloud for the next decade, expanding our addressable market and innovating across every layer of the tech stack to help our customers be resilient and transform.”
He went on to further explain, “With Windows 365, we’re creating a new category: the Cloud PC. Just like applications were brought to the cloud with SaaS, we are now bringing the operating system to the cloud, providing organizations with greater flexibility and a secure way to empower their workforce to be more productive and connected, regardless of location.”
Constantly changing technology means that businesses need to embrace digital transformation processes to remain competitive. Integrating new forms of technology such as Windows 365 can have a significant impact on a business by speeding up, automating, and improving processes.
By leveraging the capabilities of the cloud, organizations can easily achieve the goals of digital transformation. This is because the cloud provides the natural solution to the heavy computational and storage needs that are required to implement these digital solutions.
If you are still unclear or on the fence about cloud technology then you should also consider that according to a study by 451 research, you are already behind 90% of companies. Cloud technology is clearly not a passing phenomenon, it’s here to stay. And it’s not too hard to see why, when looking at just what businesses stand to gain:
- Cloud services are scalable and flexible enough to adapt to any business’ needs,
- Businesses can make significant savings by eliminating the need for massive investments in on-premises infrastructure,
- Companies stand to gain a competitive advantage from the valuable insights they get from the huge volumes of big data available,
- The cloud also ensures business continuity in the event of a disaster, cyber attack, etc. A case in point being how businesses have remained operational despite the pandemic.
What does Windows 365 add?
We all know that cloud computing is not a new phenomenon. Neither is virtual technology. In fact, Microsoft itself already has Azure Virtual Desktop available. So naturally, one would wonder what does Windows 365 bring to cloud computing that isn’t already there? Apparently, quite a bit.
Windows 365 promises to provide clients with an alternative to their physical PCs. An alternative that lives permanently in the cloud and runs Windows 10 or (once it’s available later this year) Windows 11. The service would also allow you to sign in to that alternative PC on any desktop PC, Mac, or mobile device and pick up exactly where you left off.
With Windows 365, at least according to Microsoft, setting up, maintaining, and managing Windows will become easier. In addition, the Cloud PC provides a secured place to store apps, files, and documents that your employees will have access to at any time and on any device with an internet connection.
This creates a situation where your location doesn’t matter and you can easily switch between devices without losing your work. Also, unlike Azure Virtual Desktop’s consumption-based rate, Windows 365 offers flat subscription rates.
Windows 365 Functionality
Having seen what Windows 365 can bring to the table, you’ll probably need to know how the service functions. Firstly, you’ll need to determine what the needs of your organization are and then select a plan from the ones available.
And once you purchase a subscription, you can then link your Windows 365 product to an existing Microsoft account. With this done, all your apps, tools, data, and settings will become accessible from any device anywhere.
Moreover, Windows 365 is a fully customizable platform that allows you to customize the amount of power and storage that your Cloud PC uses both at the point of subscription and once you start using it.
One of the major challenges with existing cloud computing technology is the difficulty that one faces with scaling. So the fact that Windows 365 essentially eliminates this issue is a fantastic advantage.
Another great tool that you have is the integration with Azure AD and Microsoft Endpoint Manager (MEM). For organizations that are already leveraging Azure virtual desktop infrastructure, Windows 365 will automatically integrate itself with your Azure AD infrastructure. In addition to your other virtual assets as well. Also, management and security policies can be applied to your Cloud PCs.
Cloud PC capabilities and Windows 365
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 we’ve 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.“
Windows 365 also aims to tackle the security issues that organizations have been facing. And this can be done through integration with the security and identity management policies that you already have in place such as Azure AD.
Major features with Windows 365
There’s plenty to like about Windows 365 from the information that we have about the service so far. 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 (once it’s available later this year) Windows 11,
- Secure by design, and fully compliant with Microsoft’s Zero Trust principle,
- 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 MEM,
- Fast setup process that provisions your Cloud PC within minutes.
Addressing security concerns
Remote access has been essential during the pandemic in helping plenty of businesses to remain operational. But, the concern with working from home has always been how to maintain the security of an organization’s network.
This is why Windows 365 is attempting to resolve some of those security challenges 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.
And then to make things even more secure, there is going to be 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.
What else should you know?
One of the first questions you may be asking yourself as you find out more about Windows 365 is, is this for me? And according to Microsoft, Windows 365 is for all businesses regardless of size. As long as you need a secure and agile hybrid work solution for elastic workforces, distributed employees, etc, this service can help you.
What about Windows Hybrid Benefit? This will also be available to you if you have a device with a valid Windows Pro 10 license. Each individual assigned a Windows 365 Business license with a Windows Hybrid Benefit license must also be the primary user of a Windows 10 Pro licensed device. And that device needs to be their primary work device.
Another thing that Microsoft says clients need not worry about is their apps. All apps that worked on Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and Windows 10 should have no issues on Windows 365.
In case of any issues, Microsoft will help you to fix them at no cost. And as far as devices are concerned, as long as you have an internet connection then most modern devices will work with the service. Also, with regards to bandwidth, how much you need will depend on the workload. The requirements for Windows 365 are as follows:
- HTML5 browser,
- DSL connection or a wireless internet connection capable of streaming a video.
In the end, there is no escaping the fact that cloud computing has grown to become essential to how businesses operate. The endless possibilities that hybrid work environments can create can only mean good things.
But, the key to all of this is having a service that offers a great user experience as well as unquestionable cybersecurity. This is what this Windows solution claims to bring to the table.
An enhanced, modern cloud computing experience that is built on the foundation of other already successful Microsoft services. By leveraging the latter, Windows 365 has the potential to create a whole new paradigm.