A few weeks after the release of Windows 365, the trial versions were no longer available until further notice. Does this prove that the solution is so great, or just that Microsoft does not want to give up too much power of its computers for free? Is all this talk just marketing gibberish? Or is it something more? I decided to face the topic!
What is Windows 365
In short, it’s a virtual machine that Microsoft provides us with. I wrote about virtual machines and how we can install them ourselves in my post. In this case, everything happens in the Microsoft cloud, using the Azure infrastructure. We have two versions available: business and Enterprise. You can read more at the official address.
Windows 365 business vs enterprise. What’s important here?
The most important thing to note is that the Enterprise edition requires Azure AD Hybrid! And this is:
- very unobvious, because if you have Intune, when you assign The Windows 365 license, such a machine appears there for you, but you can’t do anything with it. Even if you only have Azure AD, without any local environment, this machine will appear anyway. But so what …
- The second issue related to this is that the Enterprise version relies on your Azure subscription, and you will pay that much with the amount of traffic you have. On the other hand, The Business version has a monthly outbound traffic limit! If you exceed the limit, it will be cut to the end of the billing period
How much does Windows 365 cost?
Prices start at $ 31 per month and increase based on CPU count, RAM, and disk size. Let’s be honest … It is not cheap, but despite all this solution has some advantages, where the price will be rather of secondary importance.
Windows 365 Login
And here is the first thing that I like very much. Whether it will be a Mac, Windows or even an iPad – because I also did such a test – we connect without any problems.
So, as my colleague asked my about it: can Windows 365 be used on Mac? Yes, it can. It works very well, there’s no difference here.
- We can use a regular browser. Just go to the website, click “Open in browser” and you’re all set
- use the good old RDP client. Works here as well. Here is a little hint. The MacOS RDP client does not scale by default and has the maximum resolution. You have to play a bit in the advanced settings to be able to work
- You can also install e.g. the TeamViewer client and use it for remote access
I’ve already written in the context of a modern IT department, how big a fan of Intune I am. It works great in this case as well. Apart from the problems described above with the Enterprise edition, the Business edition works perfectly fine. As soon as you start your Cloud PC and log in, it appears in your Intune console. All policies and installed applications are downloaded. The computer is automatically connected to your Azure AD. You don’t have to do anything at all. Fast and efficient!
Do you work with a consultant or remote employee? Think about Cloud PC
Here comes the scenario where Windows 365 can be a very useful tool. Let’s imagine you have a consultant; and he needs access to your resources. Normally you have to give him either a computer or let him access our resources from his own computer. Which, for example, is not always a good idea due to security issues. And sending a computer to the other side of the world doesn’t always make sense either … So how can it work?
- We create a consultant’s account in Office 365
- We assign him a Windows 365 and Office 365 license
- We give him the login, password and link to the portal and that’s it! Whether you buy a laptop or ship it, you don’t know where!
After that, you press reset button in the console and the computer is ready to use again after a while. There is no trace of the previous user.
This is another thing worth paying attention to. Our machine does not have an option to turn it off, it is always on. Turns out there are scenarios that can use this as an advantage. Imagine you have scripts that need to be run at night, every day, and you don’t have your own servers. You add them to the scheduled tasks and that’s it. Or an even more interesting scenario. You have a license for Power Automate with attended RPA. Due to the fact that your computer is constantly on, you can easily connect to the Power Automate in the cloud. Thanks to this, you can really create very interesting solutions.
Windows 365 pricing
And that’s probably the biggest problem I have with this platform. The solution is great, but the price to pay, especially for something that can be worked on in terms of hardware, is quite high. Certainly, it will not be profitable for everyone. Machines in a reasonable configuration start at $ 70 a month … A bit expensive … Certainly not everyone will be able to afford such an expense. Therefore, I don’t think it will be widely used. I think it’s worth having a few licenses for the scenarios I wrote about earlier, but that will be all.
So, is it worth it?
Looking at what I wrote earlier, the solution is worth attention, but I do not predict its success as much as Office 365 itself, which seems to be breaking popularity records recently. However, it will definitely be good to have a spare license, just in case.
Initially, I also thought of this platform as a tool for freelancers. A nice option when we connect and work for the client during the trip. Well, but because of the price, I don’t see it for an ordinary digital nomad :), it’s a pity …