Man thinking about the windows 365 and azure virtual desktop differencesWhen Microsoft unveiled Windows 365 in July, they termed it “a full, personalized PC experience from the cloud to any device.” In essence, it’s a Windows desktop (and apps) virtualization service, which allows users to access “cloud PCs” from anywhere, using a range of PC and non-PC devices. In other words, Desktop-as-a-Service.

However, with this announcement comes some slight confusion. Windows 365 Cloud PC is a version of Windows Virtual Desktop, which has been around for a few years. And Windows Virtual Desktop has been renamed Azure Virtual Desktop. Confused?

Let’s have a look at the differences between these terms and what this means for your business.

The Windows 365 and Azure Virtual Desktop differences

Windows 365: Easy to buy and manage virtual desktop, optimized for simplicity; designed for small to medium-sized clients who don’t have internal virtualization administrators.

Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD): Designed for large, enterprise-class clients that have a bench of virtualization administrators.

Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD): The old name for AVD.


Windows 365 in a nutshell 

So basically, at the click of a button (and a monthly fee), you can allocate Windows 365 licenses to your users/employees—leaving you with only one technical-based decision that needs to be made regarding the size of compute you want or need. Windows 365 options for this go from 1 vCPU, with 2GB RAM and 64GB HDD, to 8 vCPUs with 32GB RAM and 512GB HDD. And when you subscribe, Microsoft takes care of pretty much everything, letting you focus on getting the best possible return on your investment.

With the Business plan for Windows 365, you don’t have to worry about building out or managing anything in Azure. So, if you have virtual desktop requirements that are pretty straight forward, you can spin up a virtual PC with Windows 365 almost instantly—without having to worry about navigating through what are often times tricky technical areas of innovative computing. However, with the Business version, you are limited to 300 virtual desktops. This needs to be taken into consideration if you think you may want to increase your virtual desktop count above 300 in the future, as you cannot migrate to Enterprise, you must start from scratch.

On the other hand, the Enterprise plan provides more flexibility for security, networking, and deployment options, but Azure must be part of the solution. There is also no size restriction—small or large—for the Enterprise plan, and you use Microsoft Endpoint Manager as the administration platform for Windows 365.

Snapshot of Azure Virtual Desktop 

For those who want a highly customized virtual desktop experience, Windows 365 may not be specific enough to meet your needs. In this circumstance, the Azure Virtual Desktop solution will probably be more relevant for your requirements.

Learn more about Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD)

Support of 3rd Party Virtual Desktop Solutions

Azure Virtual Desktop is the only solution where Citrix and VMware are supported as a Virtual Desktop solution running in Azure. Windows 365 does not support any additional management solutions.

Simplicity vs. flexibility

When it comes to Windows 365 and Azure Virtual Desktop differences, we’re really taking about simplicity verses flexibility.

Azure Virtual Desktop requires more decision-making from a technical standpoint. With AVD, you need to manage an Azure subscription and connect Remote Desktop clients manually. You will also be required to make a series of technical decisions around various configurations. However, you get a Platform-as-a-Service offering where you can choose what specifications you need for your goals.

In contrast, Windows 365 reduces the need to make these kinds of architectural or configuration decisions. And along with being easy to equip, deploy, and manage your virtual PCs, Windows 365 is designed to help address some important priorities of organizations today:

  • Supporting hybrid working – whether employees are on-premises or elsewhere
  • Staying secure – with zero trust principles and integrated two-factor authentication
  • Abstracting away hardware – separating the device you physically use from the computing power you can access

Let’s examine these Windows 365 benefits a little more closely.

Supporting hybrid working

Organizations everywhere are adopting a hybrid work model, where employees work on business premises some of the time and work remotely at other times.

With Windows 365, employees can access a fully-equipped virtual desktop from wherever they are, using whatever device they want. Prior to adopting the hybrid work model, users may have inadvertently saved important documents “locally” on the desktop of their home PC, and were thus unable to access the file when using their office PC. With Windows 365, there is only one desktop – a cloud-based one – and all the files and apps on it are accessible anytime, from any location.

Staying secure

With cyberattacks surging and new weaknesses exposed by remote and hybrid working, businesses are now more concerned about their security than ever. Windows 365 is “secure by design”, in keeping with the principles of zero trust cybersecurity. Because sensitive data is kept in the cloud rather than on individual devices – which can be hacked, lost, or stolen.

Abstracting away hardware

A recent IDC report suggests PC shipments have surged 18% this year, despite global supply chain issues. CPUs have suffered shortages since 2019, and this year a number of other components are also at risk of shortage (audio and power management hardware important for laptops are cited by IDC). And the ongoing COVID pandemic continues to layer uncertainty onto the situation, yet all of this may actually strengthen the use case for Windows 365.

Virtualizing hardware—especially where requirements need high performance rigs—plays perfectly to the Windows 365 offering. Centralized hardware in datacenters can be accessed by (almost) any old device with a good network connection.

So instead of companies looking to upgrade existing devices, they can upgrade their Windows 365 virtual hardware with ease, and still benefit from the security features we discussed above.

We’re ready to help you make the most of your virtual desktop investment

We hope you found this article useful. At MessageOps, we want to help your business harness the value of virtual desktops, whether it’s Windows 365 or Azure Virtual Desktop.

As the world’s premier cloud service provider, we help enable organizations of all sizes to make the most of Windows 365 and Microsoft 365. We’re a leading member of Microsoft’s Cloud Service Provider Program, which allows us to deliver unbeatable value and service to our clients, including:

  • Single point of contact for all your Microsoft needs
  • Dedicated advisor and 24/7, 365 U.S. based technical support
  • Exclusive value-adding tools and services such as Inscape and Team Captain

So, if you’d like to take employees’ desktops into the cloud with Windows 365, MessageOps is happy to get you started and help manage your journey along the way. Get started today!

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