On the 2nd of August, Microsoft released its newest VDI Offering, Windows 365 Cloud PC. You might be asking yourself - doesn’t Microsoft already have a VDI Offering? Well yes, they have a few (Remote Desktop, and Azure Virtual Desktop) but this offering is unique and is catered to customers that are looking for a desktop-as-service model. So, should you be looking to move to Windows 365 or to deploy it for your new VDI initiative? To answer that, lets dive deeper into what the solution provides.
What is Windows 365 Cloud PC?
The focus of Windows 365 is Ease. It is touted as being able to procure, provision and deploy in minutes and requiring no additional VDI expertise. It provides a Windows 10 or Windows 11 (when its Generally Available) PC hosted in Microsoft Cloud and enables users access on personal or corporate devices regardless of location or type. It most closely compares to Amazon Workspaces with pricing by compute size on a monthly basis.
The first very important thing to know about Windows 365 is that there are two very unique offerings.
Windows 365 Business. Geared towards organisations up to 300 employees.
Windows 365 Enterprise. Geared towards organisations with more than 300 employees
But the differences go way beyond size.
Windows 365 Business is providing a very basic desktop. For most organisations, the features won’t be enough to keep users productive. With no connectivity to internal resources and no image management, you would be left with a very vanilla desktop. Furthermore, having Cloud Save as the only option to save data introduces risk to users should an issue with the desktop occur. This scenario would result in users having to revert back to a clean desktop, presenting a huge risk. The use case is very limited but where I could see this being used is organisations whose applications are all software-as-a-service (SaaS) based and want to give their users a full desktop but don’t have high data retention requirements.
Windows 365 Enterprise is a much more robust solution. By providing custom images, integration with backend resources and management through Microsoft Endpoint Management, a true enterprise class desktop hosted in the Cloud is delivered. But these solutions are not straightforward to set up. If you really want to get up and running fast and ensure minimum user issues and secure access, OverBright is an expert in providing professional services for Endpoint Management and Azure Landing Zones. These services can be consumed as a stand-alone service or as a Cloud PC-desktop-as-a-Service.
However, Windows 365 is not a magic bullet. The pricing is low if you are looking at replacing your desktop costs, but the costs can add up quickly as the desktop is on a per user monthly basis. If you have users that require a dedicated persistent workspace for large periods where you retain management and control, then this cost model and solution is great. But of users don’t in fact need persistence of the desktop. For them, using Azure Virtual Desktop or 3rd party solutions like Citrix or VMware might be better placed options. This is because they allow for multiple users to share the same desktop, offering cost savings and providing options to deliver a non-persistent workspace so that only the user data is retained. For most users this is all they really need and not having persistence of the desktop can really ease management as you are guaranteeing the same experience regardless of which desktop hosts their session.
When selecting a persistent desktop like Windows 365, how it’s backed up becomes paramount. If you can’t ensure recovery or SLAs your users will be frustrated and there is a potential loss in productivity. Windows 365 currently doesn’t provide SLAs, nor backups. However, as Microsoft has this service already built in within Azure, it is likely to be added to the solution in the near future.
So is Windows 365 right for us?
Do you want to deliver your users a persistent desktop with robust management functionality? Is your use case largely for providing users access to application/desktops and less critical the availability of data? Will your users be accessing the desktop for large periods of time? In that case, Windows 365 Enterprise might be a great solution for you.
As it’s a newer product there are some important limitations to know about, such as GPU support and support for desktop resizing. These are likely to change quickly. Please contact us to learn more and discuss this or other Workspace offerings. With a team of industry expertise, we can assist with navigating your desktop transformation, whether it’s assistance with getting up and running quickly and securely or providing a managed service so that you can focus on getting back to business.
Please drop us a message at email@example.com to discuss more.