You’re probably familiar with using Windows on a computer you own, but Microsoft recently announced a new way to enjoy Windows. In August, Microsoft started offering Windows as a cloud service via Microsoft Cloud and Microsoft 365. Think of it as streaming Windows like how you stream Netflix.
This is mainly designed for enterprise and business users, which is why the service is appropriately named Windows 365 Cloud PC. Interested? Here’s a look at everything you need to know about Windows 365 Cloud PC.
Windows 365 Cloud PC is an add-on for Microsoft 365 plans. It’s not a consumer service and is only available for organizations of two sizes under Microsoft 365 Business plans. You can either choose Windows 365 Business or Windows 365 Enterprise. The first option is for organizations with 300 or fewer employees, and the second, for more than 300.
When it comes to price, Windows 365 for Business and Enterprise starts at $20 per user per month. That is for Cloud PC with a single-core CPU, 2GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage. Windows 365 Enterprise, meanwhile, starts at $20 per user per month. That includes a machine with a single-core CPU and 2GB of RAM. The price can go as high as $162 per month for an eight-core CPU with 32GB of RAM and 512GB of storage.
Full pricing details are available on Microsoft’s website. Various plans cover various amounts of RAM and storage. All plans are fixed and renew each month on a subscription basis.
Windows 365 Cloud PC is mainly designed around the needs of temporary and seasonal workers and provides more ways to access Windows. The target audience for Windows 365 Cloud PC includes interns, contractors, and industrial designers.
Instead of depending on using company-owned PCs, these folks will be able to use the service to stream a full virtual online version of Windows from the cloud to any device they already own. Basically, it is a way to access Windows from a web browser and a way for companies to avoid having to purchase separate devices for seasonal or temporary workers.
The service is available on all different devices via the web, such as Macs, iPads, and Android. (Linux support is coming soon.) Once a company signs up a worker, Windows 365 Cloud PC can be accessed by going to windows365.microsoft.com.
That same access is available regardless of if the host devices are budget-level or high-end. All of the processing power happens via the internet. Users of Windows 365 Cloud PC can install business apps, Microsoft 36 apps, and any other Windows app as they see fit. There are no limits.
Microsoft even says that Cloud PC has an instant-on and instant-boot experience. This means that you can pick up right where you left off, regardless of the state of the cloud PC, and even if your internet connection drops out.
IT admins have full control over Windows 365 Cloud PCs in the same way as controlling regular PCs. Deployment and management happen via Microsoft Endpoint Manager, and all it takes to get started is to assign licenses and groups to users via the Microsoft 365 admin center.
Note that Windows 365 Cloud PC will also come with a Windows 11 option later this year. The operating system is still under beta testing and isn’t yet final.
Windows 365 Cloud PC is mainly for enterprise and business users. However, there are some similar services available for consumers to try out.
One of those services is Shadow Cloud Computing, which lets you stream a gaming PC from the cloud. It’s priced at $30 per month.
Another is Paperspace, which lets you stream a PC on a per-hour basis. Microsoft hasn’t yet mentioned if Cloud PC will come to consumers, but it doesn’t seem likely.