Windows 365 has been around for about 2 years now, and if you are reading this blog you are probably very well aware of what Windows 365 is from a technical perspective. But why are we so excited about Windows 365? The concept of virtual computing is not at all new, and Microsoft announced Azure Virtual Desktop (which back then was called Windows Virtual Desktop) back in September 2018.
Why care are about virtual computing?
Virtual computing is something that has become a topic within many companies lately, especially cloud based virtual computing. This could be Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD), Windows 365 or maybe Citrix Cloud just as a few examples.
I work as a consultant, and working with many different customers in different segments, virtualization is something everyone is becoming more and more interested in. Some might already be heavily invested in AVD, some has an old on-premises VDI solution while others have never even touched virtual computing.
Today, there is a lot of focus on the cloud and everyone is on some kind of journey towards the cloud. The cloud also opens up the interest in SaaS (Software as a Service) solutions rather than hosting it all your self. Sometimes this is more cost efficient than a self-host solution. This is where Windows 365 comes in if we discuss vitual computing.
But why would one consider Windows 365? Well, simply because it’s a SaaS solution with a focus on simplicity and scalability. If we focus in on Microsofts offering around virtual computing for end users, there are two offerings;
- Azure Virtual Desktop
- Windows 365
What I often experiance in many discussions is that we start the discussion in that we need one or the other. But that’s where we start of on a wrong foot. Looking at the customer I’ve been working with, it usually not a question of either or. It’s always a queston of what mix.
But why are we all of a sudden so interested in virtualization? Well, looking at how we are moving workloads more towards the cloud for our infrastructure components and applications to make use of much more cost efficient power and availaility, it makes sense to explore how we can utilize the same thing for end user computing. There is actually also a sustainability question to this, that we can utilize older hardware longer which is a great thing!
Utilizing virtual computing also increases the availability of the desktop session, and we also take away the factor that our physical client breaks and wont function for us. We can also use this as an extra level of security for sensative information or task.
If we compare the two offerings from Microsoft around this, there are two main differences.
- AVD is a Cloud VDI
- Windows 365 is a Cloud PC
But what does this mean?
A Cloud VDI is more of a tradiitonal VDI solution, but hosted in the cloud. GIven that it’s a VDI, we as administrators can control all aspects of the setup, but we are also responsible for the maintanence for the solution. Since you maintain the infrastructure, you will also be charged for what resources you consume. Cloud VDI is considered to be a Platform as a Service (PaaS).
The term Cloud PC is quite new to many. The distinction Microsoft makes here is that a Cloud PC is just that, a PC. You buy something to a more fixed specification and the anaolgy that this is a PC, but hosted in the cloud actually makes a lot of sense. A Cloud PC has a set configuration and you pay a fixed price for that setup. You could almost say that you subscribe or lease a virtual computer, and someone else is maintaining the infrastructure behind it (a typical SaaS setup).
But why should we be excited about WIndows 365?
Windows 365 brings a level of simplicity to virtual computing. We no longer need to be VDI experts to be able to utlize virtual computing. This makes cloud computng much more available for a larger set of organizations. We can also decrease the operational cost of the virtual computing platform since we no longer need to maintain infrastructure.
If I look to myself, why I love Windows 365, it’s closely connected to that it’s simple to get started with. I don’t come from a VDI background, I’ve been working with Intune for the last 10+ years and device management. For me it makes so much sense to simplify everything and have a simpler setup for the big bulk of users who most likeyly just need a virtual computer without very specific configuration. It also behaves just like any other computer when you manage it, which makes the device management aspect of things so much easier. There is no longer a need to have a seperate configuration for your virtual computer, now you can use the same as for your physical devices!
Windows 365 is based on licenses, and you pay a fixed price each month for the service. You can use the Cloud PC as much as you want, the price wont change. The only thing to keep in mind is that there is a outbound data limit to each SKU unless you use an Azure Network Connection, then you pay for the outbound data.
If we compare to the consumption based model AVD is based on, we can often see that the Windows 365 setup is more cost efficient for the bulk of users after just 3-4 hours of daily usage.
Decide when to use what
Like I mentioned earlier in this blogpost, we shouldn’t discuss if we should use AVD or Windows 365, the discussion should be around what mix we should have.
If you are aleady using AVD, thats great! You could explore Windows 365 for use cases where you don’t hva specific needs for a certian disk, graphics card or such.
If you are getting ready to start using Windows 365, thats great! Keep on that track and further down the line explore what value AVD can bring to you and your usecases!