Posted: Tuesday, August 10, 2021
Microsoft’s annual partner event, Inspire, is typically light on major product releases and it came as a surprise to most partners to see the imminent release of Windows 365 announced.
Think of Windows 365 (W365) as being your traditional physical work computer that is now located in the cloud and accessible from a web browser, app, tablet, or phone. It runs the same Windows 10 (soon 11) operating system as your physical device and will be fully compatible with all your line of business apps. As with most current Microsoft cloud products, W365 follows the same monthly fee subscription model.
It may not be immediately obvious why you would want to spend your hard-earned cash on an expensive laptop or desktop and then be expected to put your hand in your pocket again for a monthly subscription to W365, but consider these scenarios:
- You’re on the way to the office and realise you’ve accidentally left your laptop at home. No problem as W365 is fully cloud based and accessible from almost any computer with an internet connection.
- Your company has just taken on a new intern, and you don’t want to purchase an expensive laptop until their trial period is finished. In just a few minutes, your intern can be up and running with a dedicated W365 cloud computer.
- You’ve just made an acquisition and need to quickly provision new computers configured to your infrastructure for the new staff. W365 gives you the flexibility to quickly deploy (and subsequently decommission) cloud-based computers configured to your corporate infrastructure.
- Your CEO loves Apple Macs but needs to run the corporate line of business applications. Using W365, a full Windows 10 experience is available via the Safari browser or the Mac desktop client app.
- Your company has concerns about data leakage of confidential information. Deploying W365 to each staff member helps to ring-fence your data and enforce corporate governance.
W365 follows hot on the heels of Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD) which at first glance, appears to offer a similar end user experience but there are significant differences for your IT department to manage:
- If you deploy AVD, your (or your IT partner) manages the underlying servers and infrastructure. With W365, this is fully managed by Microsoft.
- AVD runs multiple Windows 10 sessions on a pool of host servers. If a host server crashes or needs a reboot, all connected users are inconvenienced. With W365, each user session is autonomous and can be rebooted without affecting any other users.
- Each AVD session shares the host’s RAM, vCPUs, and storage. A single user with a heavy workload therefore has the potential to slow down all the other sessions on the host whereas W365 is autonomous, and each user session is siloed.
- In an AVD environment, apps are shared amongst users. New apps or app updates are deployed to a single image simplifying the management for your IT department or technology partner. As each W365 computer is autonomous, app deployment and maintenance is carried out using management software such as Microsoft Endpoint Manager.
- Costs associated with AVD come under your Azure subscription whereas W365 is billed separately as a fixed cost subscription like Office 365. Bandwidth is included with some W365 subscriptions not connected to an existing Azure infrastructure (see below).
W365 is available in either a Business or Enterprise tier. Business computers can be used as standalone or joined to an Azure AD but can’t be made part of an existing Azure infrastructure. If you have a traditional AD, then you’ll need the Enterprise version. Enterprise computers can connect to an existing vNet in Azure but only the network interface of the W365 computer is exposed to Azure, all other resources are managed by Microsoft.
You can save money if you are an existing Windows 10 Pro user and interested in a W365 Business computer by taking advantage of ‘hybrid benefit’. Microsoft kindly deducts the cost of your Windows 10 license from the W365 Business computer.
W365 Enterprise requires that each user be licensed with a Windows 10 Pro subscription, Microsoft Endpoint Manager, and Azure Active Directory P1, which is included in Microsoft 365 F3, Microsoft 365 E3, Microsoft 365 E5, Microsoft 365 A3, Microsoft 365 A5, Microsoft 365 Business Premium, and Microsoft 365 Education Student Use Benefit subscriptions.
In terms of sizing, the table below gives some indications of the correct specifications based on your users’ anticipated workloads. Note that whilst you can upgrade an existing W365 computer to a higher specification, you can’t currently downgrade.
|CPU, RAM, and storage||Example scenarios||Recommended apps|
|1vCPU/2GB/64GB||Frontline workers, Call centres, Education/training/CRM access.||Office light (web-based), Microsoft Edge, OneDrive, lightweight line-of-business app (e.g., call centre application – web-apps), Defender support.|
|Mergers and acquisition, Short-term and seasonal, Customer Services, Bring-Your-Own-PC, Work from home||Microsoft 365 Apps, Microsoft Teams (audio-only), Outlook, Excel, PowerPoint, OneDrive, Adobe Reader, Edge, Line-of-business app s), Defender support.|
|Bring-Your-Own-PC, Work from home, Market Researchers, Government, consultants||Microsoft 365 Apps, Microsoft Teams, Outlook, Excel, Access, PowerPoint, OneDrive, Adobe Reader, Edge, Line-of-business apps), Defender support.|
|Finance, Government, consultants, Healthcare services, Bring-Your-Own-PC, Work from home||Microsoft 365 Apps, Microsoft Teams, Outlook, Excel, Access, PowerPoint, PowerBi, Dynamics 365, OneDrive, Adobe Reader, Edge, Line-of-business apps), Defender support.|
|Software developers, engineers, Content Creators, Design and Engineering workstations||Microsoft 365 Apps, Microsoft Teams, Outlook, Access, OneDrive, Adobe Reader, Edge, PowerBi, Visual Studio Code, Line-of-business app s), Defender support.|
Following the launch of W365 on the 2nd August, demand has exceeded Microsoft’s expectations. The free 2 months trial was so popular in the first few days of launch that they have now had to temporarily suspend this offer until they can deploy some additional resources.
Prices start from £17 + VAT per month for the most basic specification. Please contact your Utilize representative if you would like prices and further details or click here.