Microsoft unveiled today Windows 365, a new virtual machine service that lets businesses access "Cloud PCs." Launching on August 2, Windows 365 gives enterprise users the ability to run Windows 10 or Windows 11 in a web browser from anywhere on any device.
Windows users can access their scalable Cloud PC using any browser or via Microsoft's Remote Desktop app. Microsoft says Windows 365 lets you stream the entire OS — apps, data and settings — and that data is secured and stored in the cloud instead of on hardware.
Microsoft is calling this hybrid computing category — where you use a physical computer alongside a virtual one — Cloud PC. Along with the ability to access all of the tools found on users' physical PCs, the cloud service lets them log in instantly and pick up where they left off, even from other devices like a MacBook, iPad, Linux machine or Android phone.
“With Windows 365, we’re creating a new category: the Cloud PC,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. “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.”
Virtual machines aren't a new concept (Microsoft's Azure Virtual Desktop does something similar) but Windows 365 attempts to simplify the process. Business users can go to the Windows365.com site (when it launches), choose from a dozen configurations, and get the ball rolling — no third-party solution needed.
Why is this so important? Because now businesses can outfit employees with lesser hardware that taps into the cloud to run Windows 10 or Windows 11. It also means remote employees can be assigned portable laptops to carry to work, the cafe or around the house while harnessing the scalability and power of the cloud to run demanding processes when needed.
Windows 365 versions and pricing
Windows 365 will be available in two flavors, Business and Enterprise. Both use the Azure Virtual Desktop and Cloud PCs can be configured with a CPU, 2GB of RAM and 64GB of storage or all the way up to eight CPUs, 32GB of RAM and 512GB of storage. Microsoft is reportedly looking at ways of bringing in dedicated GPU power for more demanding workflows, Microsoft told Engadget.
There will be a per-user monthly subscription cost though exact pricing has yet to be announced. The easy-to-use virtual machine is designed to scale from a single user to an entire workforce.