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Microsoft has become the latest to go down the as-a-service route, with the vendor using its Inspire event as the backdrop to announce its cloud PC offering.
The arrival of the Windows 365 cloud PC is one of the signs that the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated changes in working practices and vendors are reacting with fresh propositions to meet increasing demands for flexible working.
For the vendor’s channel, it comes at a time when conversations are happening around hybrid working as employees start to return to offices and, in some cases, reluctantly leave their desks at home.
In a blog post, Wangui McKelvey, general manager, Microsoft 365, said the trends in the market were clear and almost three-quarters of workers wanted flexible working, and hybrid working would be the norm.
“Much like how we have embraced the cloud for other products, our vision for a Windows 365 cloud PC is to deliver a new way to experience Windows through the power of the cloud – while solving both novel and traditional challenges for organisations,” he said.
“The cloud PC draws on the power of the cloud and the capabilities of the device to provide a powerful, simple and secure full Windows 10 or Windows 11 experience that you can use to empower your workforce, regardless of location or device.”
The cloud PC option will be available to Mac users, on an iPad, and to Linux customers, giving the vendor’s channel a large target market to pitch at. The technology is based on Azure virtual desktop and the vendor is keen to head off security concerns, with zero-trust built in. There is a also a “watchdog” service that will ensure connections remain stable and consistent.
McKelvey added: “You can get the same work done on a laptop in a hotel room, a tablet from a car between appointments, or your desktop while you’re in the office. Seasonal workers also can ramp on and off according to the needs of the business, allowing the organisation to scale for busy periods without the complicated logistical and security challenges of issuing new hardware.”
From a channel point of view, Microsoft is keen to stress this should appeal to every type of partner and it is looking to get ISVs involved.
“Windows 365 creates new opportunities for partners of all types across the Microsoft ecosystem to deliver new Windows experiences from the cloud,” said McKelvey. “Independent software vendors can continue to build Windows apps, and now deliver them in the cloud to reach a broader audience.
“Our customers will look to systems integrators and managed service providers to help them get the most out of their entire Windows estate. With the announcement of Windows 365, we are inviting organisations, employees and partners to reimagine experiences with Windows and their devices and look forward to creating new scenarios for users everywhere.”