After office and Xbox, Microsoft went ahead and put Windows in the cloud. With the Windows 365 service, companies can stream Windows devices directly from Microsoft’s servers – like Netflix, but for your work computer.
Unlike a server farm, these are individual instances of Windows computers that run with a unique and customizable set of apps and user data that can be streamed on any device, including phones and tablets. If your internet connection can stream a movie, Windows can stream too.
What comes with Windows 365 Cloud PC?
with Windows 365, businesses can create accounts for up to 300 users, each with their own instance of Windows PC (Windows 10 for now and Windows 11 when it is released). Plans start at $ 24 per user per month ($ 20 if you have a Windows 10 license under the Windows Hybrid Benefit plan) for a single-core virtual CPU, 2 GB of RAM, and 64 GB Storage. The dual-core virtual CPU plan with 4GB of storage and 64GB of storage starts at $ 32 per user per month.
And from then on, prices rise rapidly. The top-end eight-core virtual CPU with 32GB of RAM and 512GB of storage will cost you $ 162 per user per month.
That said, Windows 365 is a pretty unique service. While there are third-party services that allow you to run Windows in their data centers, no one offers an integrated experience like Microsoft. Here the account administrator doesn’t have to do much to set up a user with Windows 365 – he just needs to log into the admin interface, create an instance, assign it to a user, adapt it to the needs of the company, and you’re done. Windows 365 then does the heavy lifting of installing and building the instance, updating software, installing operating system updates, and fixing security issues.
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While the $ 32 / month offer rate may seem like a lot, with a Windows 365 subscription you get:
- Software updates: Automatic, secure installation of software updates, including security patches.
- No facility: You don’t need an entire IT team to set up, monitor, and update devices. Microsoft will do this for each instance in the background.
- Really fast internet connection: The internet connection in Microsoft’s data centers is really fast. Things like downloading files and updates are done in a snap.
- A state everywhere: Windows 365 runs in every browser on every device. There are also dedicated Microsoft Remote Desktop apps for iPhone, iPad, Android, Mac and Windows. And regardless of which device Windows 365 is to be accessed from, the computer is in the same state with the same data.
- Easily expandable: Windows 365 can be scaled with the needs of your company. You can start with the basic configuration and increase the RAM, the number of cores, or the storage as required.
Should you pay? Windows 365 cloud PC?
That brings us to the question: who is this for? It is not for consumers or independent professionals. Microsoft only offers this service for business and enterprise customers – and even if you are talking about business users, there are a very limited number of use cases that it would be perfect for.
First, the service only supports 300 users so large organizations are out there. The same applies if a company wants to host / control its own Windows instance; it’s just not possible in Windows 365. Ultimately, Windows 365 is for businesses that value a seamless, low-overhead experience above all else.
If you run a business with a few dozen employees on a distributed team, but still want to control the Windows experience for all users (without a large IT team), this might be a good idea for you. You can get away with spending cheap laptops as the entire Windows experience is now done in the cloud. That is, if you don’t mind the $ 30-40 per user per month fee.
Cheaper alternatives too Windows 365
The scenario described above is pretty tight – and even that isn’t exactly cost effective. If you choose to run for three years, the basic two-core plan will cost you a total of $ 1152 per user. For example, you can get a decent mid-range Dell laptop for $ 500 (or cheaper if you’re looking for one refurbished model).
If you really need to offer your employees remote desktop functionality, AnyDesk The subscription costs $ 9.99 per month per user. Do you need control of the entire experience? Microsoft’s own Azure virtual desktop you can create and host custom Windows 10 cloud PCs. As with all business decisions, this one can only be about cost. Before making a decision, do the math to see if it is the best choice for you.