Today was a huge day for Microsoft Partners and the global virtual desktop communities. At 5pm CEST time Microsoft announced a new service offering, allowing customers all over the world to consume Windows 10 and Windows 11 desktops from the cloud. With Windows 365, Microsoft is transitioning all customer related applications, their correlating data and the underlying desktop to the cloud. The service will be available for all customers on 02.08.2021!
How does Cloud PC look like and where do I manage it?
Microsoft describes the new offering as a personalized desktop experience, which contains all user related apps, settings and content which is securely provisioned from the Microsoft Azure cloud to the user’s endpoint/s. The desktop can be deployed directly via Microsoft Endpoint Manager and integrates seamlessly into the organization’s Active Directory, while benefiting from the security driven architecture of the Microsoft cloud.
Okay, now that we know that we can manage the desktops from the MEM admin center, it is important to know, if Microsoft allows us to customize the end user experience by providing a custom image, which we might have prepared for an existing AVD environment. And the answer is yes, a custom image can be used to deploy and test the new service offering. Details about using FSLogix are not yet released, but expected to work as with normal Windows desktops.
Some of you might also ask, how does it look like if users need more computing power to work and what is the standard VM size to be provisioned. When it comes to this question, Microsoft announced multiple options and use cases, but no pricing details yet.
|VM / OS disk size||Example scenarios||Recommended apps|
|1vCPU / 2GB / 64GB||Frontline workers, Call centers, Education/training/CRM access.||Office light (web-based), Microsoft Edge, OneDrive, lightweight line-of-business app (e.g. call center application – web-apps), Defender support.|
|2vCPU / 4GB / 256GB2vCPU / 4GB / 128GB2vCPU / 4GB / 64GB||Mergers and acquisition, Short-term and seasonal, Customer Services, Bring-Your-Own-PC, Work from home||Microsoft 365 Apps, Microsoft Teams (audio-only), Outlook, Excel, PowerPoint, OneDrive, Adobe Reader, Edge, Line-of-business app(s) , Defender support.|
|2vCPU / 8GB / 256GB2vCPU / 8GB / 128GB||Bring-Your-Own-PC, Work from home, Market Researchers, Government, consultants||Microsoft 365 Apps, Microsoft Teams, Outlook, Excel, Access, PowerPoint, OneDrive, Adobe Reader, Edge, Line-of-business app(s) , Defender support.|
|4vCPU / 16GB / 512GB4vCPU / 16GB / 256GB4vCPU / 16GB / 128GB||Finance, Government, consultants, Healthcare services, Bring-Your-Own-PC, Work from home||Microsoft 365 Apps, Microsoft Teams, Outlook, Excel, Access, PowerPoint, PowerBi, Dynamics 365, OneDrive, Adobe Reader, Edge, Line-of-business app(s), Defender support.|
|8vCPU / 32GB / 512GB8vCPU / 32GB / 256GB8vCPU / 32GB / 128GB||Software developers, engineers, Content Creators, Design and Engineering workstations||Microsoft 365 Apps, Microsoft Teams, Outlook, Access, OneDrive, Adobe Reader, Edge, PowerBi, Visual Studio Code, Line-of-business app(s), Defender support.|
WatchDog Service to help you fullfil the technical prerequisites of the service
As a great addition to the already announced features, Microsoft has also announced a feature called “Watchdog Service”. This service is validating the prerequisites to get started with Cloud PC, such as:
- Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) Connect configuration
- Network access
- DNS resolution
- Rights to create computer accounts in the right organizational unit
- Subnet range – if there are enough IP addresses available for your deployment
How to choose, which service fits my needs better?
Based on the released information by Microsoft one of the huge differences is that Cloud PC is provisioned in a single user experience mode. Compared to Azure Virtual Desktop, it doesn’t allow to increase the user density by using the Windows 10 Enterprise Multi-Session desktop.
The new service sounds promising, but doesn’t look like an evolution from Azure Virtual Desktop point of view. However, Microsoft made the next step to the real cloud managed PC, which will be an important step to come for Azure Virtual Desktop (thinking of native Azure AD joins etc.). The management and provisioning of Cloud PC through the Endpoint Manager admin center streamlines the experience for administrators, to easily provision the required resources and adapt these to their end users. An important question still seems to be open, and this is how much the service will cost or adopt the subscription model. I’m really excited to know what’s coming next! If you have some questions or ideas, leave me a comment below!