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Windows 365: Cloud PC pricing starts at £20

Will Microsoft change the way people buy PCs in much the same way that streaming services have revolutionised video subscription services?

Microsoft has made available its Cloud PC offering, Windows 365, which streams a Windows desktop to any device.

Cloud PC is a new category of device, which Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella unveiled at the company’s recent Inspire virtual event. In effect, it provides a virtual desktop environment, totally managed in the company’s Azure cloud, which can be streamed to a web browser.

In a blog post describing Cloud PCs and Windows 365, Scott Manchester, partner director of program management, Windows 365, wrote: “The Cloud PC draws on the power of the cloud 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 Windows experience is consistent, no matter the device. You can pick up right where you left off, because the state of your Cloud PC remains the same, even when you switch devices.”

Nick Hedderman, modern work and security business group lead at Microsoft, said the service reflected demand for greater levels of flexibility and hybrid working. He said the aim of Windows 365 was to provide businesses with a secure experience and employees with the flexibility to work in any way they want.

Whether it is a company-owned device or a device the employee owns, he said Windows 365 offered enterprises a way to deliver a desktop environment that boots instantly and uses the power of the Microsoft cloud to simplify management and pricing.

Looking at the specifics of the device requirements for Windows 365, Hedderman said it would need an HTML5 browser, which means devices running Linux, iOS, Android or MacOS, as well as Windows PCs, can be used. From a networking perspective, he said 1-1.5Mbps should be sufficient. According to Microsoft, 5G-enabled devices would be ideal for steaming Windows 365 desktops.

Windows 365 provides various sizing options for virtual processing power, memory and storage. Since storage and networking is provided via Microsoft Azure, unlike a traditional virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) deployment, IT admins need only configure the hardware settings for the virtual device.

Available via the Azure Marketplace, Microsoft offers several variants of Windows 365, some of which bundle Microsoft 365 office collaboration and productivity software.

Pricing for a Windows 365 Cloud PC configured with one vCPU, 2GB RAM and 64GB of storage starts at £17 per user per month if a Windows 10 Pro licence has already been purchased, otherwise it costs £20. The largest configuration currently available is for an eight CPU machine with 32GB of RAM and 512GB of storage. The full price for this configuration is £138 per user per month.

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