As hopes grow that the pandemic could be nearing its end, Microsoft has announced its Windows 365 Cloud PC: a solution which will help companies manage the present and future demands of “hybrid work”.
Windows 365, i.e. Microsoft’s “Cloud PC” , is an additional offering alongside Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD). Until now, Microsoft’s only enabler for hybrid work was Azure Virtual Desktop, previously Windows Virtual Desktop. This infrastructure was created to provide companies with virtual desktops from the cloud and it works very efficiently.
However, some virtualisation know-how is necessary to provision them. Microsoft itself bought external solutions, such as FSLogix, to help refine AVD, while Citrix, VMWare and many third parties have been doing the same. There is still a lot of work to be done, and in order to ensure costs and performance of the systems, administrators must always keep an eye on the environment and continually optimise it. One method of doing this is to carefully manage and share the usage of machines, which is enabled by the multi-session desktop feature.
In the future, it looks like customers will have the choice between a cloud desktop from Citrix, VMware and others, which are ultimately based on Azure Virtual Desktop, or the Windows 365 Cloud PC, directly from Microsoft.
All the complexity of Azure Virtual Desktop has disappeared with the Cloud PC, or has at least been concealed from the customer’s view. That means no multi-session, no user profile management, no switching Azure instances on or off, and no calculating Azure consumption. Each user gets a desktop, and the user profile is located in the good old C: drive. Administrators can grant users full local administration rights too.
After their administrator has assigned them the appropriate licences via the Microsoft Endpoint Manager, users simply log in to the portal https://windows365.microsoft.com to start the desktop directly in the browser. Alternatively, they can use one of the native clients available for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS and Linux (coming soon).
The intended simplicity is made clearer by looking at Cloud PC’s launch partners. Typical line-of-business providers are listed, among others. The idea behind this is to be able to automatically assign a Cloud PC to a new employee when hired and to withdraw it when the contract terminates. This example clearly shows that Microsoft assumes that they have already solved the essential technical requirements for this.
The costs are also easy to calculate as they only depend on the equipment of the virtual desktop machine and the selected Cloud PC variant.
Users will also welcome the news that the cloud desktop is automatically updated in the background. That typical coffee break, taken when your Windows PC needs to install updates, has been consigned to the history books. But above all, the fact that each desktop remains exactly as it was after disconnecting has to be one of the major features, and Microsoft guarantees this status for months. In other words, if you start to write an email and disconnect, you can continue where you left off immediately. This makes it much easier to change workstations, and it lowers the fear of losing data or productivity. The status of the desktop is also maintained when the end device is changed.
As of August 2, the Cloud PC will be available in two versions – Enterprise and Business – and speculation is already rife as to whether a consumer version can also be expected. If we take a look at the specifications, however, we see quite quickly that the difference between a consumer variant and a business variant will not be too great.
This is because the business version does not provide any direct integration into a company network in the classic sense but assumes a fully cloud-based structure. Integration into a corporate network via hybrid Azure Active Directory and via VPN connection is only reserved for the Enterprise variant. So the Cloud PC Business option is actually very close to a consumer variant already.
The target group for the Cloud PC Business is primarily small teams without their own IT infrastructure who already rely purely on cloud services. Companies that want to integrate Cloud PCs into their own infrastructure and also use their own Windows images, for example, must choose the Enterprise variant.
From day one, users of Windows 365 Cloud PC can rely on the support of ezeep. Only once printing is as simple as accessing a cloud desktop and apps is a hybrid work strategy truly achieved.
With ezeep’s Cloud Printing, the entire print management, the printer drivers and the rendering of print jobs is moved to the cloud and does not require any local resources. This enables printing from any device to any printer. Print servers are a thing of the past and can be replaced by the maintenance-free ezeep Hub.
By combining the Cloud PC with ezeep Cloud Printing, users are not only able to access their desktop from any location with any end device, but also to use the nearest printer.
For both versions, ezeep is an ideal companion. For the enterprise target groups, this is mainly because ezeep meets the high demands of enterprise IT and enables printing even in the most complex environments; for business cloud PC users, the main focus is enabling the use of a central printer which ezeep delivers reliably. As an integration of the cloud PCs into the local network is not provided for, this means that network printers are not easily accessible.
– Cloud management of printers
– User Self Service Portal also for printers
– Optimised speed and print quality
– Local printer support for Cloud PC in the browser
– Network printers for Cloud PC Business
– Network printers outside the Active Directory
– Print support for Chromebook
– Native Windows printer driver support for Mac
– Zero Trust printing via the ezeep Hub in the network and home office
It remains exciting, but with the Windows 365 Cloud PC, Microsoft has certainly created an important building block towards implementation of the “New Normal”: A new, hybrid-working world based on Zero Trust security principles.
We took a deep dive into Microsoft’s Cloud PC in a free live webinar.