Microsoft is looking to take cloud computing to a whole other level through its Windows 365 Cloud PC. Cloud computing technology has seen tremendous growth in the last couple of decades.
It has enabled organizations to operate in ways that were previously only possible in imagination. And Windows 365 was built to enhance those possibilities even further. It can give clients the Windows experience wherever they may be and on almost any device they choose.
The applications for such features can do wonders for the productivity of your organization. Many have heard about Windows 365 but still have doubts. In this blog, I’ll be going over what your organization could be potentially missing out on with the Cloud PC.
Cloud computing explained
Before we delve into Windows 365, let’s step back a little and go over what exactly cloud computing is.
Although it’s only now gaining popularity, computing-as-a-service has existed in one form or another from as far back as five decades ago. And then in the 2000s the term ‘cloud computing’ started getting thrown about. As the need for computer resources has grown, more and more people and organizations have been making use of this service.
Over the last couple of years, in particular, plenty of people have probably heard about and used cloud computing services. Simply put, cloud computing provides you with on-demand computing services, meaning applications, servers, data storage, and networking capabilities among many others. The service will be delivered to clients via the internet for a fee that can be a fixed monthly subscription or based on usage.
So basically, rather than owning on-premises infrastructure, you can rent whatever you need. And if need be you can scale up your operations at any time. The most obvious benefit here is that as an organization you won’t have to worry about the complexities and potentially astronomical costs of purchasing and maintaining your own infrastructure.
Why Windows 365?
There are clients who may also be wondering why Windows 365? Is this not a case of Microsoft just giving us another version of Azure Virtual Desktop? Well, not exactly. Windows 365 Cloud PC may be built on Azure but they are different services and understanding those differences can help you choose what’s best for your business.
To start with, you’ll find differences in the architecture of these products. With AVD, apps and resources are run on virtual machines meaning that one PC can be used by an individual or as a pooled desktop.
Windows 365 operates completely differently on a one user:one PC basis. Another key difference is how these services are priced. For the most part, you’ll find Windows 365 offering subscriptions for a fixed monthly fee. On the other hand, AVD charges according to your monthly usage as well as the Windows version you use.
When it comes to administration then admins may be slightly happier with the flexibility that AVD offers. Using the latter, admins can configure network routers, security settings, and the storage type. But when using Windows 365, admin settings are saved on the cloud and used across all devices. They can only change if and when an administrator decides to change them.
The next point, however, goes to Windows 365. The onboarding process is a lot simpler than it is for AVD and may only take a few hours, if not minutes. Because AVD’s onboarding happens on the Azure portal, it can be a tedious process that takes weeks.
Ideal user scenarios
Once you have considered the differences between AVD and Windows 365, you may also want to know what kind of scenarios would be best for Windows 365. This will be key in helping you decide in which direction to take your organization.
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 pre-requisites, 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 seriously look into 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.
Some enterprises may also be wary of Windows 365 because of a lack of experience with virtualization technology. They may not have the necessary in-house expertise to handle other virtualization services available. But, this is where Windows 365 makes itself even more attractive.
To start using it, you don’t need to have an expert team of IT pros who are well versed in multi-session administration, profile encapsulation, auto-scaling, etc. The easy-to-use design gives organizations a simple, uncomplicated way to deploy and manage their Cloud PCs alongside their existing on-premises infrastructure.
Microsoft has made the administration of Cloud PCs easier by allowing IT to delegate administration to users who need it. Since Cloud PCs are personalized and designed for a single user, it makes it a lot more convenient if users can install the software they need or make configuration changes if required.
Organizations will also find that using Windows 365 will prove more cost-effective when you have users who need PC access 24/7. This is because of the fixed fee structure meaning that Cloud PCs can run continuously without worrying about shutting them down to save costs.
Empower your users
One of the things that can undoubtedly improve the way that your organization operates is empowering your users. In the modern world with so much technological innovation, businesses need to leverage the best tools available to them. This can simplify the way your employees work thereby increasing productivity.
Windows 365 promises to provide your employees with greater flexibility. Right now if whatever platforms you may be using don’t enable users to be productive from anywhere using any device, it’s time to start considering other solutions. And the Cloud PC is one that can provide just what you need.
This is because users can access Cloud PCs via a modern web browser or through Microsoft’s Remote Desktop app. They can also access Windows from their PC, Mac, iPad, Android device, and more.
Doing so will enable your organization to take full advantage of the hybrid work scenario. This can be performed seamlessly because whenever you log in regardless of your location or device, you’ll find your settings just how you left them and your work unchanged.
Not only that, but organizations don’t need to worry about having the necessary IT expertise to run a hybrid environment. This will be an added advantage because users can utilize bring-your-own-device policies to use devices of their choice.
And if you happen to be one of those individuals or businesses that prefer Microsoft software but want Apple hardware, then this will suit you perfectly. You can now get the best of both without having to sacrifice.
If your organization has already implemented a hybrid working environment, the question is how secure is your network? Do those working from home have the same level of security as those using on-prem infrastructure?
Ensuring hybrid work is as secure as possible is a key objective for Windows 365. And by storing data on the cloud and making use of Zero Trust principles, the Cloud PC will give clients very strong security.
Features such as strict authentication of all users and use of just-in-time and just-enough-access, among others are going to provide you with the kind of cyber security necessary for the complexities of the modern environment and the hybrid workplace.
What will make this even better for configuring these settings is that you can preconfigure them en masse for all users. Whether they be a handful of users or number in the thousands. By using features such as multi-factor authentication, admins can determine which accounts can log in, and how long they have access.
Furthermore, the bringing together of Configuration Manager and Intune in Microsoft Endpoint Manager has created a solid foundation for supporting Windows 365 in the hybrid configuration.
Something else that will endear Windows 365 to users is that they will no longer have to constantly face the costs of refreshing dated technology. Not only is upgrading your devices a costly process, but it can be a very time-consuming process as well.
However, the Cloud PC was made to ensure that users will always have access to the latest updates, fixes, and features. All of this for a flat subscription fee. This allows you to easily upgrade or downgrade users’ Cloud PCs according to the requirements of the work they are carrying out.
Performing the upgrade is a very simple task. All an admin needs is to have a good, reliable internet connection and within seconds they can switch a user/users from a 2GB RAM machine to a 32GB RAM machine.
And as far as maintaining the configuration goes, it’s now all about a simple subscription model that can be scaled as well as distributed globally. Also, managing everything won’t be too difficult a task as you can do it directly from the Microsoft Cloud using Microsoft Endpoint Manager.
By shifting resources to the cloud, you can protect your investments by ensuring that hardware specifications are Windows 11 compliant thus preventing you from running into challenges later.
Support for Windows 11
In keeping up with the trend of constantly improving the products that Microsoft wants to offer its clients, Windows 11 can give users an even better experience than before. It gives you a more eye-catching layout with its new design and several new features designed to smoothen the Windows experience. Some of the features to look forward to include:
- More cohesive interface features
- Improved multi-monitor support
- Multiple desktops on a single monitor
- Translucent windows
- Enhanced touchscreen interactions
- Introduction of the Microsoft Store (to replace the Windows Store)
Beginning in October of 2021, Microsoft began offering Windows 365 Enterprise clients support for Windows 11 for all newly provisioned PCs in the available regions. And by year-end that support had been extended to all Windows 365 Business clients as well.
Windows 11 is the ideal OS for the hybrid environment. It is made to adapt to how you work, is highly secure, and IT won’t have difficulties with deployment and management. So as long as the hardware configuration supports it, you will get the option to select Windows 11 as the operating software. Distinguishing between Windows 10 and 11 isn’t difficult because of the newly designed wallpaper that comes with Windows 11.
Benefits of Windows 11
As already mentioned, Windows 11 is the ideal OS for hybrid work environments and so that is arguably the biggest benefit. Collaboration will become easier because of how Microsoft Teams Chat and other functions have been integrated into the taskbar. And even if the person you want to communicate with doesn’t have the Teams app, you can still communicate via two-way SMS.
The new interface is also designed to be sleek, smooth, and free of distractions thus it should improve productivity. Using the same device for both work and play can sometimes prove tricky. But, you can better organize your life by creating virtual desktops with different looks and apps to cater to the different scenarios.
It follows from this, however, that you’ll need great security to protect that device. Windows 11 built-in security features will provide a high degree of encryption and malware protection.
Microsoft wants to enhance both the performance and security of Windows and to do so there are new requirements being introduced. This makes it the first service capable of delivering Windows 11 in the cloud while also meeting the new system requirements, such as TPM, UEFI, and secure boot.
Also, all hardware requirements are supported by Windows 365 as part of the new baseline configuration for Cloud PCs. However, clients should note that the current Windows 365 Cloud PC baseline that you already have in Microsoft Endpoint Manager also supports Windows 11. Microsoft recommends using this baseline for optimizing the security posture of your Cloud PCs.
For Windows 365 Enterprise, the Windows 11 image that Windows 365 Enterprise provided on October 5 2021, includes the same apps preinstalled and configured as the Windows 10 image. However, if your organization would like to create your own custom Windows 11 images then you can also do that.
- Custom images switch to Gen2 – if your business decides to use custom images instead of Windows 365 Cloud PC gallery images then you can continue doing that. But, for you to prepare a new version you are going to have to change the virtual machine type from Gen1 to Gen2 as the source image. So for your Cloud PC to be ready for Windows 11 in-place upgrades, this will need to be carried out.
- Detect your Cloud PC Windows 11 readiness via Endpoint Analytics – for those using gallery-based images, provisioning of new Cloud PCs based on Windows 11 became possible in October 2021. So for any Cloud PCs that were provisioned before then and that you would like to upgrade to Windows 11, you can:
- Make a direct transition to Windows 11. To do this you must change the gallery image from Windows 10 Enterprise to Windows 11 Enterprise + Microsoft 365 Apps. Following this, a reprovisioning of your Cloud PCs will be triggered via the Devices menu in Intune/Microsoft Endpoint Manager.
- Alternatively, you can start by reprovisioning your existing Cloud PCs back to Windows 10 Enterprise. You can then do an in-place upgrade to Windows 11 Enterprise directly or later.
Organizations that want to reprovision their Cloud PCs will find that it’s a simple and straightforward process. As long as users are assigned OneDrive licenses, their data will be automatically backed up and then restored after the reprovisioning process.
To view whether your Cloud PC is ready for in-place Windows 11 upgrades you can go over to the Work from anywhere dashboard in Endpoint Analytics. And if the Windows 11 readiness status of your Cloud PC reads Capable, then it means you can now perform the in-place upgrade.
There is not a single company out there that would not love to reduce operating costs. And IT costs can be extremely high for a lot of businesses. This can prove to be a stumbling block especially for small enterprises with very limited budgets. So given the opportunity to get access to all the computational resources you could want without breaking the bank you should certainly take it. Or at least seriously consider it.
Save on data centers
Using Windows 365 can help to reduce those costs while placing almost limitless resources at your disposal. Organizations that run their own data centers or those considering it can appreciate just how massive an investment it takes just to get set up.
And then there are going to be the never-ending expenses associated with the physical space, personnel, heating, cooling, and electricity required to operate the servers. That’s before we even start talking about the costs related to infrastructure as well as operational data.
This is why taking advantage of the Windows 365 Cloud PC can be of immense benefit to your business. You can let Microsoft take care of running and maintaining the data centers. All you’ll need to do is pay for whatever resources you need and that’s it.
This is another area that businesses can take advantage of to reduce their costs even more. Your organization stands to gain by reducing the time to benefit because the SaaS model differs from the traditional one by having the application already installed and configured. So all you’ll need to do is the provisioning and after a few hours, the app will be ready.
Also, since SaaS often resides in a shared or multi-tenant environment, the hardware and software costs are bound to be a lot less than the traditional model. By gaining access to software that they may not normally have because of the high license costs, smaller enterprises will benefit a lot by scaling up and growing their clientele base.
In addition, you’ll also find that the costs associated with upgrades and new releases will be lower than with the traditional model. This is because the responsibility for this falls entirely on the service provider.
Lower staff cost
Windows 365 is a platform that any business can utilize regardless of how small or big it is. Therefore, Microsoft has built it such that small businesses without large IT departments or expert IT pros won’t face too many difficulties.
Windows 365 enables any business to create a hybrid work environment and access Cloud PCs without having to bring in full-time IT experts to run it. It’s also going to allow you to develop a more streamlined staff that can increase focus on innovation, optimization, and improving overall productivity.
Cost-efficient disaster recovery
Coming up with an effective disaster recovery strategy is a prerequisite for any business today. The challenge that businesses will face is just how much they may have to pay for such a strategy. How do you create resilience in your network without breaking the bank? Well, a great way to do it is to move towards cloud services.
With a platform like Windows 365, you can free yourself from having to use disaster recovery plans that require you to build redundancies into everything thus pushing up your expenses. Having a Cloud PC will keep your data securely on the cloud without having to purchase two of everything.
As already mentioned above, Windows 365 provides you with the best security features to ensure that your data and devices are well protected. It gives businesses plenty of reasons to migrate to the cloud. Especially given the increasing opinion that storing your data on the cloud is a safer option that may also save you money on security expenses.
When looking at having your data stored on the Microsoft Cloud, it’s safe to say that there aren’t too many places that even come close to that level of security. And even for organizations that may want to establish this level of security on-site, it’s not easy. Or cheap.
Most businesses simply don’t have the necessary staff or financial resources to have the kind of on-site security that companies like Microsoft can provide. Moreover, having your data stored in multiple, geo-independent data centers gives you the kind of availability that businesses need.
The distribution of data across multiple data centers and the redundancies placed in the system serve to secure your data even more. This is because if one goes down your data will remain secure and your access won’t be affected.
Another consideration you should have when discussing potential migration to the cloud is the cost of on-site physical security. Because to have the highest level of security for your on-premises servers, you’ll have to invest in security personnel, high-tech security systems, mantraps, and locked cages.
In addition, to have adequate surveillance of your data centers, you would need to have round-the-clock staff. You need people to constantly monitor for attacks while others are guarding the physical premises. As most know, this is something that will certainly require a significant capital outlay.
However, when you opt for a service like Windows 365, you need not worry about all these other factors. The company has data centers that are very well guarded and have state-of-the-art security systems in place. Therefore, your data is far more secure and the cost for that is shared across all of Microsoft’s clients.
Switching to the Windows 365 Cloud PC and placing your data on the cloud is also going to help boost your technical security. Most businesses, whether small companies or massive enterprises have faced issues with patching.
And there’s a good likelihood that without leveraging the power of the cloud, those issues will remain. Service providers like Microsoft are well-placed to adequately deal with those issues. They have the resources necessary to hire full-time teams dedicated to patching their products.
And with the automation of the cloud patching process, you’ll also be saved the downtime that you would otherwise face on-premises.
If you are still hesitant about the cloud, how about looking at the complete segmentation of user workstations which helps to fortify your network. Cyber criminals have had a lot of success penetrating secure networks via phishing and email attacks.
This is because by directly targeting a user workstation, a hacker has a greater chance of succeeding than if they were to attempt going through the servers. When using the cloud, user workstations are completely segmented meaning that users won’t be sitting on the corporate network where data is stored.
We all know just how important encryption is to the security of our data and communications. So all your data should be highly encrypted to keep it secure. The problem is that not all businesses have the necessary resources to provide this kind of encryption across an entire organization.
But, Windows 365 can easily provide it from the start. And this will serve to protect your data so that even in the event of data theft, the military-grade encryption that the big cloud service providers offer will still secure your information. So a hacker may have your data but it will be extremely difficult, sometimes impossible, to decrypt.
If you’ve been looking into how you can improve collaborative work within your organization as well as with other organizations, then Windows 365 is worth considering. In this modern world and especially in the last few years, finding ways to better collaborate has become a key requirement for plenty of businesses.
These days you have people on-site working on projects with those who are working remotely from home. Then you also have work that you may want to do with other companies. All this requires you to have efficient ways to simplify how you work together. And needless to say, security remains of the utmost importance.
The cloud environment encourages collaboration across teams from end users, administrators, security personnel, support staff, to any other department. They are all working on the same infrastructure allowing them all to work seamlessly without getting in each other’s way. Assigned roles and permissions enable administrators to monitor the entire network ensuring that smooth workflow is maintained.
Microsoft has created a system that makes collaboration using platforms such as Windows 365 simpler and more efficient. Your organization can utilize Microsoft Teams to facilitate flexible working conditions, whether you’re in the office, at home, or across the globe.
You can create teams for various reasons such as a team for people under the same manager or a team for people working on a particular project. It gives you a central storage place for data and communications.
Furthermore, colleagues can work simultaneously on a file without having to wait for someone to finish first. Using real-time co-authoring can speed up how you work and even the quality of work done.
Sharing files is also aided by making use of OneDrive features. Taking advantage of certain features means that you can share a file with peers and stop sharing it if necessary. This gives you ultimate control over who can access and edit your files.
And if you decide to share the file with more people then uploading the file to Microsoft Teams or a team site is an option. So basically with Microsoft 365, we now have the ability to work from anywhere with access to all the tools we need and use just about any device we have.
Therefore, even if I’m in a remote area somewhere and only have my mobile phone, as long as there’s internet access I can easily attend meetings online, share Office files, co-author in real-time, and remain productive.
Simplified set up
We’ve already gone over the benefits to users and the lower expenses a business will face when using Windows 365. Even with all that, chances are your organization is not interested in anything that would take ages to set up and be complicated to manage.
Once again, the Windows 365 Cloud PC can present itself as the right option for you. One of the biggest selling points of the service is the click-and-go approach to cloud computing and virtual environments. Administrators can quickly and easily configure and assign Cloud PCs to users based on the various needs of the work they need to carry out.
The ease with which this can be done creates an amazing scenario in which users can be signed in and ready to work within a matter of minutes. And with the fixed monthly rates that Microsoft offers, businesses can plan well in advance and easily stay within their budgets.
Increase your financial returns
Every business out there is constantly looking for ways to increase its revenue stream. You need to come up with measures that will help you to operate more efficiently, cut down on expenses, and improve your productivity.
Well, why not consider taking advantage of cloud computing? Windows 365, in particular, is tailor-made to help organizations gain access to the computational resources they need at a fee that will enable you to operate in an ideal IT environment.
Because all the necessary heavy processing is carried out in the cloud, the device one uses to access the Cloud PC is less important. The benefit to your business is that most of the devices you are currently using can remain operational for longer thus maximizing the return on your investment.
In addition, the implementation of bring-your-own-device policies means that establishing a hybrid work environment can be done a lot faster. Not to mention for a lot less. No significant capital outlay will be required and you can have peace of mind concerning the need to frequently refresh your hardware. Instead, you can take advantage of this scenario to pour more investment into critical areas that will grow your business.
Build for the future
One of the headaches that businesses constantly have is the need to modernize so that they don’t get left behind by rapidly evolving technological advancements. So if there’s a way to invest for the future while also safeguarding those investments, you’d be interested right?
Microsoft has presented Windows 365 as a potential solution for businesses. The technology that one gets with Windows 365 is designed to keep up with the advancements that will continue to happen in the future.
Therefore, unlike with your office PCs that eventually start to have performance and reliability issues as the years go by. Windows 365 Cloud PCs won’t face the same problems.
Clients will continue to benefit from new features and updates as they are rolled out. You won’t have to worry about decreasing performance levels or spending massively to upgrade your infrastructure.
If necessary, you’ll also have the option to upgrade the version of Windows that you have installed on your Cloud PC. So with the Windows 365 Cloud PC, as the years go by you can actually anticipate a better computing experience.
Design a modern workplace
There’s no denying that the workplace has changed over the last few decades. And if there’s anything that the last few years have shown us is that the evolution will continue at a rapid rate. The global pandemic has probably accelerated the change that we have all known was coming. Most businesses have been forced to rethink how they’ve been operating and in some cases they have probably realized that adopting modern technology has had a significant impact on improving their business models. Using a service like Windows 365 can play a huge role in that. You can easily create virtual ‘offices’ and have people collaborating on work projects from different ends of the planet.
Microsoft is looking to provide organizations with modern workplace services that can improve user satisfaction, promote remote collaboration, and increase productivity. All in a highly secure environment. For instance, by using the latest generation of Office 365 features, you can securely manage business-owned devices.
In addition, you’ll be able to easily manage employee devices that fall under bring-your-own-device policies and choose-your-own-device style strategies. Leveraging the Windows 365 Cloud PC can help you to ensure that business technologies can work everywhere in a distributed workforce.
The Cloud PC offers a lot to foster the way that modern employees want to work. And the state-of-the-art security that Windows 365 provides allows the modern workplace to operate without the constant worry about security breaches.
Windows 365 has brought us a product that can revolutionize the workplace by eliminating the boundaries that have prevented businesses from creating an agile workforce. For businesses that had not been thinking about cloud computing, the pandemic may have forced their hand.
But, even if that may be the case, Windows 365 has been of immense benefit as it allows employees to work remotely without losing the collaborative and productivity benefits of teams working in the office. For other businesses, the flexibility that they can offer employees can play a huge role in attracting as well as keeping talent.
When it comes to devices, you can access the Cloud PC using almost any device. And if you happen to lose that physical device, your data will remain secure on the cloud and you won’t lose any work progress. You can simply continue where you left off when you access your Cloud PC via another device.
So for a lot of people out there, cloud computing may be something that they weren’t interested in and didn’t know too much about. But, with the experience of a platform like Windows 365, you may just find the solution that will take your business to that next level.