Now that Microsoft has released all of the details on Windows 365, let us take a deeper look at the product, the variations and pre-requisites that a business will need to get up and running.
Windows 365 was announced with much fanfare at the 2021 Inspire conference and is available in two flavours – Business and Enterprise.
Windows 365 joins the newly renamed Azure Virtual Desktop offering businesses a range of options for a hosted desktop.
Why is Microsoft releasing Windows 365?
Onboarding and Provisioning
Zero-touch approach to getting employees, vendors, and contractors up and running across a variety of devices and locations.
Responding quickly to changing workplace situations to mitigate negative impact and seize opportunities.
Security and Regulation
Securing organizational and customer data while addressing growing complexity in compliance, without sacrificing productivity.
Windows 365 Vs Azure Virtual Desktop
Under the hood, a very similar set of Microsoft technologies are in use, with the core difference being fixed price per user Vs a consumption-based model for Azure virtual desktop.
Both technologies share the same underlying control plane running in Microsoft Azure – objects such as web portal, gateway, connection broker, licensing & diagnostic services. The table below outlines the core differences between the different offerings.
Windows 365 is available in 1 of 12 configurations with various computer, storage and memory offerings. The offerings are the same for both versions- business and enterprise.
Microsoft has picked a couple of common configurations with suggested uses.
- 1vCPU with 2GB Ram: Windows 10 and web versions of apps.
- 2VCPU with 4GB Ram: Supports desktop versions of Office, Outlook and Teams.
- 8vCPU with 32 GB Ram: Supports Visual Studio, Power BI and Dynamics.
Licencing and assignment for Windows 365
Windows 365 is licenced on an annual up front or monthly in arrears and can be purchased via Enterprise agreements, CSP (MCA) or Microsoft web direct (MOSA). There are slight variations on availability – which makes sense, given that Windows 365 for business caps out at 300 users.
When user subscriptions as assigned to Azure tenant, they are available for assignment. One quirk of Windows 365 is that you cannot physically upgrade/downgrade a desktop – rather you assign the user a different user subscription licence (USL) for a different configuration, always assuming there are spare licences to complete the assignment.
At this time it is not possible to convert a Windows 365 business subscription to a Windows 365 enterprise subscription.
If a subscription lapses, user data is retained for 90 days, and the account held in limited functionality status to enable you to download data as required. You can contact Microsoft support to speed up the deletion process in the case of sensitive data that is no longer required.
Windows 365 Business pre-requisites
There are two price points for Windows 365 Business, and which one applies depend on the user that is going to be assigned the subscription
- Windows 365 business. This is for users whose primary device in not Windows 10. This is the more expensive option but removes any requirement for Windows 10 devices.
- Windows 365 business with hybrid benefit. This is for users whose primary devices is Windows 10. The user can access the Windows 365 desktop from any device but, the Windows 10 device must be their primary device and they will need to connect to the services from that device at least one a month or year (depending on the subscription type).
There is a 20% difference in price between the two options.
Windows 365 Enterprise pre-requisites
There is a minimum level of Office 365 licensing that a user needs to have to use Windows 365 enterprise. The minimum requirement is one of the following:
- Any one of Microsoft 365 F3, E3, E5, A3, A5, Business Premium, Student use benefit
- Individual user subscription licence for all of Windows 10 E3/E5 plus Intune plus Azure AD Premium P1
- Individual user subscription licence for VDA E3 or E5 plus Intune plus Azure AD Premium P1
How much does Windows 365 cost?
Below we detail Windows 365 pricing information. Costs outlined are typical per user per month (ex-vat) subscription costs:
There are some additional costs arising out of usage of Windows 365. The main costs relate to data flows, and these differ depending on which flavour of Windows 365 is being used
Windows 365 Business
Depending on what size of Windows 365 VMs you have subscribed to, you will be assigned a data flow allowance. This varies from 12GB per month at the lower end to 70GB per month at the highest level. The levels are set at what Microsoft typically expect usage to be.
Windows 365 Enterprise
All network traffic goes through the Azure virtual network used to set up on-premises network connection. Azure bandwidth pricing will apply for network usage.
Find out more
Simplicity, ease of deployment and ease of management is a key feature of Windows 365 and given the demand for trials, Microsoft seems to have hit the spot with this product launch.
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