Microsoft recently unveiled the Windows 365 platform. It is a new solution that provides a streamlined way for businesses, large and small, to set up a cloud-based Windows PC. It is a fresh take from Microsoft on the concept of VDI and how it is implemented, billed, and serviced.

Quick overview of Windows 365 Cloud PC ^

Windows 365 Cloud PC allows users to "stream" Windows to any device using a browser or a native RDP client. It provides easy integration with Microsoft apps, such as Microsoft 365, Microsoft Dynamics 365, Microsoft Power Platform, and others. Windows 365 exists in two editions with different use cases:

  • Business—The Business subscription is designed for small- to medium-sized companies that only need a few desktops and fixed pricing. Customers are charged a fixed rate for the Business desktop, with prices depending on the selected hardware configuration. Since the Business desktop is attached to a managed Microsoft vNet, customers are not charged network egress fees. In addition, customers are limited to 300 desktops.
  • Enterprise—The Enterprise subscription is designed for larger enterprises that want to integrate the desktops with their existing Azure virtual network, have fully featured endpoint security services, and single sign-on (SSO). Since an Enterprise desktop is connected to the customer's vNet, they are charged the standard fees for network egress traffic. With this option, customers can also manage and roll out their own customized images for use with Windows 365 and have access to more robust reporting, troubleshooting, Universal Print, and other features.

Windows 365 Cloud PC also entitles organizations to Windows Hybrid Benefit. With this discount, customers receive up to a 16 percent price reduction on their Windows 365 Business subscription if they already use Windows 10 Pro on their primary client device.

How to deploy Windows 365 ^

To get started with the Windows 365 Cloud PC service, navigate to the following URL: Windows 365 Cloud PC | Microsoft

As described above, one of the first decisions you have to make is which version of Windows 365 you want to use—Business or Enterprise. In our walkthrough, we will deploy a Cloud PC with Windows 365 Business.

Choose between Windows 365 Cloud PC Business and Enterprise

Choose between Windows 365 Cloud PC Business and Enterprise

Below, you see the pricing for configurations recommended by Microsoft. You can get the desktops cheaper than the prices listed below by manually configuring your Windows 365 machine and selecting the configuration that way. The base configuration listed below contains 2 vCPUs, 4 GB RAM, and 128 GB storage space.

Bundled pricing for Business and Enterprise

Bundled pricing for Business and Enterprise

As mentioned, you can manually configure the hardware configuration of the Windows 365 Cloud PC. There are a few choices, but not many. Notice the Windows Hybrid Benefit listed in the configuration. For a small Cloud PC, this amounts to a $4.00 price reduction for a standard Cloud PC cost.

Customize the Windows 365 hardware configuration

Customize the Windows 365 hardware configuration

Once you settle on the configuration and click Buy now, you will be taken to a wizard that allows you to sign in to your Microsoft account or create an account.

Getting started signing up for Windows 365

Getting started signing up for Windows 365

After you sign in to the Microsoft account attached to the Windows 365 desktop, you will pay for your instance and check out. Here, you can enter a standard credit card or use the one you already have assigned to your account.

Paying for a minimum subscription on Windows 365

Paying for a minimum subscription on Windows 365

After buying the subscription, you can now sign in to your Microsoft account. Below is an example of a Microsoft 365 account. The Windows 365 license is simply another license you manage for your users. Click the options button  (:) next to the username of the user you want to assign, and select Manage product licenses.

Manage product licenses for your user to add Windows 365

Manage product licenses for your user to add Windows 365

Under Licenses and apps, you will see the Windows 365 license listed as available. Place a check by the license for the user, and save your changes. Note that you can also select the workstation's location so you can ensure it is located geographically close to the user to which it is assigned.

Assign the Windows 365 license to a user

Assign the Windows 365 license to a user

After the license is assigned, the user can navigate to windows365.microsoft.com and sign in. Since I immediately signed in to the dashboard, the Setting up your cloud PC message was displayed. This step will take a few minutes before the PC is ready to go.

Note that there are two ways you can connect with the Windows 365 dashboard. You can open the Windows 365 desktop in a browser, which will activate the RDP web client, and you can launch a session to the desktop using a Remote Desktop connection.

Windows 365 dashboard for the end user

Windows 365 dashboard for the end user

After clicking Open in browser, sign in with the account assigned to the Windows 365 license.

Pick your account to sign in to the Cloud PC

Pick your account to sign in to the Cloud PC

After signing in, we see the Cloud PC that is configured.

Cloud PC resources you have been assigned

Cloud PC resources you have been assigned

Once you double-click the machine, you will be asked what local resources you want to be accessible to the Cloud PC.

Choose your local resource access options

Choose your local resource access options

Once you access the workstation, you will be asked to sign in.

Enter your credentials

Enter your credentials

We now have access to the Windows 365 Cloud PC in the browser.

Windows 365 desktop loads in the browser

Windows 365 desktop loads in the browser

Remote Desktop app

With a Windows 365 Cloud PC, Microsoft also enables using RDP. However, you will find that it does not use the standard built-in RDP app. Instead, when you launch the Remote Desktop apps, Microsoft displays links to download the various OS-specific clients. Even Windows has a special app to interact with Windows 365 RDP connections.

Microsoft Remote Desktop Apps

Microsoft Remote Desktop Apps

Once you download and install the app, copy the subscription URL from the app. This URL will be used in the RDP app.

Copy the feed URL for the RDP connection

Copy the feed URL for the RDP connection

In the RDP app, enter the email or workspace URL copied from the dashboard.

Subscribe to a workspace in the RDP app

Subscribe to a workspace in the RDP app

Sign in with your Microsoft account assigned the Windows 365 license.

Sign in to your Microsoft account

Sign in to your Microsoft account

After signing in, it will display the Cloud PC assigned to your user account. When you double-click the Cloud PC, it will prompt you to enter your credentials again. This time, it is prompting for credentials to sign in to the machine itself.

Connect to your Cloud PC

Connect to your Cloud PC

We are now connected to the Windows 365 PC using the new Remote Desktop app.

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Remote Desktop connection to Windows 365 Cloud PC

Remote Desktop connection to Windows 365 Cloud PC

Wrapping up ^

Windows 365 Cloud PC is a new VDI offering from Microsoft that allows users to stream Windows from the cloud. It provides flexible offerings for businesses that simply need a few desktops in the cloud to large enterprises that want to integrate their PCs with their Azure environments. The Windows 365 Cloud PC walkthrough shows that it is straightforward and seamless to provision a new Windows 365 desktop in the cloud.

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