It’s been nine months since Microsoft launched Windows 365, a Cloud PC service that lets you stream a powerful, personalized Windows desktop on any device’s browser. Now, Windows 365 is finally integrating with “real” Windows 11 computers, and it’s amazing.
Let me clarify something up front; early Windows cloud integration will focus on enterprise customers. These are, realistically speaking, the only customers that can currently afford Windows 365. As such, many of the new features revealed by Microsoft expand on Windows 365’s remote work and security capabilities.
All of Windows 365’s integration features center around a new app, which lets you run a Cloud PC from the Windows 11 desktop instead of a browser. This app is a lot more useful than it sounds—it’s not just a small window that runs a Cloud PC. Customers can set their computer to boot directly into Windows 365 using the app, for example, which is a serious time-saver for people who access a cloud-based work PC from their personal laptop or desktop.
Not only that, but the Windows 365 app can run as a virtual desktop. That means you can play around on your local desktop without any restrictions from your employer and quickly hop over to your cloud-based “work computer” using a gesture or the Windows Task View.
Microsoft is also working on an “offline mode” for its Cloud PCs, which is kind of crazy. If a user is disconnected from the internet, they can continue using their Windows 365 Cloud PC without any data loss or hiccups. The Cloud PC will automatically resync with Windows 365 once it can establish a connection.
This is the kind of cloud integration that Ray Ozzie, Microsoft’s former Chief Software Architect, discussed back in 2005. It’s seamless, simple, and allows people to access their “work computer” without compromising their personal laptop or using a heavily-restricted computer from their employer. And from a business perspective, it simplifies the process of on-boarding employees and enforcing security protocols.
We’re incredibly excited by Windows 365, which is just the latest development in Microsoft’s push toward cloud computing. But unless your employer pays for Windows 365, you’ll probably have to wait a few years before you can try a Cloud PC. In the meantime, I suggest giving Xbox Cloud Gaming a whirl, as it’s a similar concept and utilizes the same Azure infrastructure as Windows 365.