Nowadays we use so many physical client PCs and so many programs that keeping the same set of software on all devices is complicated. This is where Microsoft's Cloud PC paradigm comes into play: the software giant is essentially lending a PC that is located somewhere in its datacenters and is available for any Internet-connected client everywhere in the world.
For now, Microsoft positions its Windows 365 for business (for organizations with up to 300 employees) and enterprise customers (for organizations with more than 300 employees), two types of the company's customers that perhaps need cloud PCs the most. As Microsoft describes it, its Windows 365 — Windows 10 or Windows 11 operating system located in the cloud — securely streams the OS with all apps, data, and settings to any personal or corporate device connected to the Internet.
Microsoft's Windows 365 is currently compatible with Windows, Mac, iPadOS/iOS, and Android. Linux compatibility is coming, yet there is no firm date.
"The Windows experience is consistent, no matter the device," Microsoft's Scott Manchester wrote in a blog post."You can pick up right where you left off, because the state of your Cloud PC remains the same, even when you switch devices."
Microsoft currently offers several Windows 365 configurations. The cheapest one includes one virtual CPU, 2GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage starting at $20. The highest end one features eight virtual CPUs, 32GB of memory, and 512GB of storage for $158 per month. Windows 365's Basic plan (2 vCPUs, 4GB RAM, 128GB storage) starts at $31 per month, Premium plan (2 vCPUs, 4GB RAM, 128GB storage) costs $66 per month. More detailed pricing information is available at Microsoft's website.
To some degree, Microsoft's Windows 365 will simplify management of software for large corporations that have fleets which include tens of thousands of devices. Yet, it remains to be seen whether these customers will actually adopt this technology.
Microsoft's move into the cloud PC area is clearly a way for the company to compete in the cloud business in general. Windows is obviously a trump up in Microsoft's sleeve that nobody else has or is going to have in the foreseeable future, so without any doubts Microsoft is going to play it. Will it become a big business? Only time will tell.