Windows 365: Is it as good as they say?

At the beginning of August, Microsoft sent the world of technology and business aflutter when they released Windows 365. Marketing it as the world’s first cloud PC, on the surface, Windows 365 looks promising and revolutionary and why wouldn’t it be? It definitely has a lot to offer; it’s easy to get started, has a simple management interface, no dependency on Active Directory (AD), and comes with monthly fixed billing, but there is more to the platform and product than just the positives. 

Microsoft has been candid and said that Windows 365 is a ‘remote desktop’, and this essentially puts it in the category of ‘virtual desktops’. They have done their best to distinguish it from previous Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) by highlighting the fact that it is a hybrid solution that uses the power of the cloud and the capabilities of your device to create a seamless cross-device Windows experience

Whenever you’re in the market for new technology, though, it’s important to think beyond the marketing and hype in order to understand the reality of what you are considering investing in.

You still need a computer

Windows 365 is a PC with no physical computer. This may seem futuristic and perfect, but remember that in order to access Windows 365, you still need a physical device. So, if you’re looking at signing up to Microsoft’s new cloud PC, you actually now have two costs: the monthly subscription AND the cost of a physical device to use it. So, what is initially seen as a cost-effective investment now comes with additional expenses that you may not have considered.

Security & compliance matters

Virtual desktops have been great for a lot of businesses, particularly as we have made the shift to working from home. No doubt, this shift has considerably boosted the appeal of the virtual desktop for many business owners, but again, there is more to consider. 

Remote workers often use their private devices to access virtual desktops, and, as such, they may want/need to work ‘outside’ of the virtual desktop. Depending on your compliance requirements, your organisation may allow this, which is fine, but now, you have a personally managed device that is flitting between your organisation’s virtual desktop and an external platform. 

A personally managed device often lacks the security measures of company-managed devices, and this increases the chances of your organisation’s critical data being at risk from an attack or a case of human error. Therefore, it may be more secure to provide company-managed devices, but this is an added expense which you probably haven’t considered.

Diminished performance

Cloud technology has improved business operations in many ways, but there are some functionalities that are better suited to local devices as their performance is reduced when accessed virtually. Take video conferencing and other high performance roles, for instance. While they are remotely accessible, getting them to a point where they retain the same level of performance as they would have on a local device adds more to your overall costs.

Microsoft 365 is an excellent alternative

There is probably no need to go out and set your business up with a new Windows 365 subscription if you already have a Microsoft 365 subscription. With Microsoft 365, you can easily provide secure, managed, remote working devices in a modern workplace environment

Providing your workforce with a secure, managed, and powerful device allows them to work wherever they want and have a better experience while doing so. It allows you to control and report on endpoint security, encryption, and patching. Your organisation’s critical data also stays protected as you have full control over it and where it does or does not go, but the user can still flexibly connect screens or docks and set up their working environment however they like – without needing additional devices.

Microsoft Endpoint Manager (MEM) not included

Endpoint Manager is a service that a lot of businesses already use to help secure access, protect data, and respond to and manage risk within their network. It is part of the Microsoft 365 stack and combines Intune, Configuration Manager, Desktop Analytics, co-management, and Windows Autopilot. Unfortunately, though, MEM is not included in the Business version of Windows 365. To get this as part of your new cloud PC, you’ll need to upgrade to the Enterprise version, but to upgrade, you first have to own an Enterprise Microsoft 365 license, which is another added expense.

No connectivity = Big problems

Being a cloud-based PC, you can’t work on it without internet access. Although we have faster and better connectivity than ever before, if you have issues with your network or are travelling and the connection is patchy at best, your work will grind to a halt. With a cloud PC, internet connectivity will dictate when and where your employees work. This has the potential to negatively affect productivity, therefore, damaging your bottom line

The Final Ruling

Although Windows 365 is a great concept, all it really does is make it easier for an in-house IT department to buy and build. While this may sound like a cost-cutting dream for a lot of business owners, it’s important not to be sucked in by those first impressions because there are a lot of things to consider, and those things could end up blowing out your budget. Unless the above issues are resolved or addressed, though, Windows 365 is not the investment you necessarily need to make for your business, especially if you already have a Microsoft 365 subscription.

Curious to know more? RODIN’s team of IT engineers can give you the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth when it comes to your IT infrastructure. With decades of industry experience and Microsoft Gold Partner status, RODIN is the managed service provider you can trust, so contact them to see if your IT decisions are benefitting your business.    

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