Microsoft unveils its "Cloud PC" service Windows 365

Martin Brinkmann
Jul 14, 2021
Updated • Jul 14, 2021

Rumors about a new cloud-powered Windows by Microsoft circulated for quite some time. Microsoft put an end to the rumors with today's announcement of Windows 365 Cloud PC, a "hybrid personalized computing" experience.

The core difference between regular versions of Windows and Windows 365 is that the latter is streamed from the cloud, in this case using Microsoft Azure. Personal settings, files, programs and content is streamed from the cloud to any device that supports Windows 365 Cloud-PC.

Since it is cloud-based, Windows 365 supports different device types and operating systems. Windows desktop systems are best suited but users may also use Windows 365 from Android and iOS devices, Mac OS devices, and web browsers.

Here is the full feature matrix of Windows 365

Windows desktop< Store client Android iOS/iPadOS macOS Web>
Keyboard X X X X X X
Mouse X X X X* X X
Touch X X X X X
Serial port X
Teams AV Redirection X
Multi-media redirection Coming soon
Multi-monitor 16 monitors
Dynamic resolution X X X X
Screen capture protection X
Cameras X X X X
Start menu integration X
Clipboard X X Text Text, images X text
Local drive/storage X X X X
Accessibility X
Location X
Microphones X X Coming soon X X In preview
Printers X X (CUPS only) PDF print
Scanners X
Smart Cards X X
Speakers X X X X X X

Microsoft highlights advantages of Windows 365 over regular installations of Windows on local systems. Among the advantages are decreased costs, less environment complexity, personalized desktop experiences regardless of device used by a worker, scaling, fast provisioning and deployment (in minutes)

Windows 365 will be available on August 2, 2021. Different packages are available that range from single virtual CPU systems with 2 Gigabytes of RAM and 64 Gigabytes of storage space to 8 virtual CPUs with 32 Gigabytes of RAM and 512 Gigabytes of storage space. No information on graphics processing units are provided at this point.

A test base for Microsoft 365 is now in public preview.

Check out the table below to see which packages are available. Microsoft lists example scenarios and recommended applications for each.

source: Microsoft Tech Community

Pricing, per-user, has not been revealed yet by Microsoft.

Windows 365 is designed for Enterprise customers only at this point. The technical requirements are listed below:

  • Microsoft Azure subscription (subscription owner)
  • Microsoft Azure Virtual Network (vNET) subscription.
  • Windows 10 Enterprise E3 + EMS E3 or Microsoft 365 F3/E3/E5/BP for users with Windows Pro endpoints.
  • Windows VDA E3 + EMS E3 or Microsoft 365 F3/E3/F5/BP for users with non-Windows Pro endpoints.
  • AD must be in sync with Azure AD to provide hybrid identity in Azure AD.
  • Microsoft Intune supported licenses: Intune Service Admin.

Microsoft published an introductory video in which it provides detailed information on Windows 365:

Closing Words

Several questions remain unanswered at this point. Besides pricing, Microsoft did not reveal information about the service's availability or backups.

Windows 365 is a cloud-based operating system that is designed for the Enterprise. Office 365 started as an Enterprise service at first as well before it was rebranded to Microsoft 365 and opened for small business customers and consumers. Microsoft could have similar plans for Windows 365, but marketing would highlight different advantages if launched for small businesses and end users.

Now You: what is your take on Windows 365? Will we see a "home" version eventually?

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Microsoft unveils its "Cloud PC" service Windows 365
Microsoft unveiled its cloud PC service, Windows 365, officially today. Find out what it is, for whom it is designed, and other information.
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  1. Dianthus said on July 17, 2021 at 9:17 pm

    Great, but still a lot of work.

    A look in the Future like I see it…

    What I want to see is that we all have just one little pc box, screen, mouse, etc. (the hardware) and all is in the CloudOS except maybe or own data of files etc. Maybe instead of a screen, we have an eyeglass on? Our data is then stored in a little, tiny box we call a pc but very tiny. Not these big things or so. That was in the past. And the beautiful thing is we do not need to worry about security, updates,… anymore bc that is for the cloud company to handle. Of course not Microsoft like it is today bc they are not to be trusted, have no idea what they are doing because it is all to complicated for most, do not listen to their customers at all and so they are all over the place but not in a good qualitative way. We need simplicity so let say a new company, where we can look if we want bc it is all open source and voilà…. No more pain in the ass and also make it all free (not joking here) and all under one roof with also 1 app for one thing and not 100. Just plain & simple the best of the best for the job, and also we have a lot more free time…

    What a nice look (for me anyway :) )

  2. Slacker Bob said on July 17, 2021 at 2:21 pm

    How dare Microsoft try to make money! Everyone knows everything should be free.

  3. Bill5 said on July 16, 2021 at 5:34 am

    This has nothing to do with cloud or not.
    It’s the first step for making windows as a product a subscription service.
    If anybody thinks that windows365, office365 and the combo of them microsoft365 won’t be eventually subscription only then he doesn’t really know m$.
    There is a reason they decided that windows 10 is not the last windows and windows 11 will run on limited hardware. All will lead in some years to windows365 home and pro editions.

  4. Alex said on July 16, 2021 at 3:57 am

    So we’ve come full circle to mainframe computing again?

    1. Corky said on July 17, 2021 at 10:18 am

      Strange world ain’t it. :)

  5. ULBoom said on July 16, 2021 at 3:43 am

    Screw that noise.

    Isn’t this kinda how, maybe just a little, chromebooks have worked since forever? MS, neck and neck for last place with, uh, no one!

    The idea of Pivot Tables on a silly phone is beyond dumb.

    Dead when the question of additional enterprise bandwidth needs comes up. Then the “Like a chromebook” slip will send companies running away.

    Really getting the impression bots are running MS; one weird idea after another to keep the street interested and market cap high.

  6. Common sense computing said on July 15, 2021 at 7:02 pm

    The dumb terminals are coming.

    1. Anonymous said on July 16, 2021 at 4:19 am

      With dumb being the users who buys into this rubbish from Microsoft.

  7. kreela said on July 15, 2021 at 5:52 pm

    This is a modern day “Thin Client”

  8. BM said on July 15, 2021 at 4:31 pm

    There will, for the long foreseeable future, an offering for local installs of the OS.

    Simple fact is that connectivity is still not reliable enough in too many places, even here in the US, even WITHIN many of our metropolitan areas.

    This doesn’t seem to be on track to get resolved for at least another10 to 20 years.

  9. Mr Minolta said on July 15, 2021 at 11:03 am

    With all these cyber attacks recently, that sounds like a awesome idea.

    1. Anonymous said on July 16, 2021 at 2:03 am

      Yeah awesome, your whole business goes offline because Azure is down. Good idea.

      1. Jody Thornton said on July 16, 2021 at 11:27 am


        If you think about all of the online systems we rely upon, and then consider how often things actually go down, you’ll see stuff is fairly reliable …. oh, and rapidly improving so stop using past metrics on services to foster panic.

      2. RobG said on July 16, 2021 at 3:42 pm

        Jody said: ”
        “If you think about all of the online systems we rely upon, and then consider how often things actually go down, you’ll see stuff is fairly reliable… ”

        But “fairly reliable” just isnt good enough, especially if your business requires instant access to customer orders or medical information etc.

        The truth is that online systems DO go down, and sometimes for days, or the Internet can be slow and erratic. You therefore simply cannot beat the current scenario where you have say 20 computers in a business..all of which Word, Excel and Powerpoint etc installed., and all with direct access to the business documents on your hard drives.

        …In the event you then lose Internet access, you’d still have access to these documents and invoice orders etc., and business transactions could be conducted via mobile or landline until you’re back online…. unless of course your business was silly enough to opt for voice-over-internet for your business phone system, in which case your incoming/outgoing phone calls are probably stuffed as well.

        Bottom line: Keep it simple. Avoid over reliance on cloud-based software, and keep your business phone lines hard wired and avoid VoiP (which is basically the Cloud for phone lines).

  10. John C. said on July 15, 2021 at 10:31 am

    And so, Microsoft finalizes it’s push to socially engineer people away from the Personal Computing experience and back to the “Dumb Terminal”. They’re doing this because their “strategic plan” is to RENT the OS and also to charge the end user for access to their (the end user’s) data.

    I would insert an expletive phrase directed at M$ here, but out of respect for this website will refrain.

  11. Phil Hill said on July 15, 2021 at 7:19 am

    The Cloud and Australia are never going to be an item whilst we have the ancient darned network that Twas put in place when we had the chance to have a Rolls Royce whereas now we are stuck with a Model T running on bald tyres and Band Aids holding it all together.

  12. DownToEarth said on July 15, 2021 at 3:34 am

    Get your whole account and instance terminated because their system thinks your pet videos are pornography, music on your drive is copyright, etc… Microsoft can shove their cloud up where the sun don’t shine. Better let it fail now so we won’t have to deal with this subscription based nonsense in 10 years, when they decide to force Home Edition as Windows 365.

  13. ChromeFan said on July 15, 2021 at 12:29 am

    The future is cloud.

    1. Anonymous said on July 15, 2021 at 11:22 am

      The future is linux, troll.

    2. Dumbledalf said on July 15, 2021 at 10:32 am

      @ChromeFan, that’s not true unless internet access becomes free or dirt cheap.

      You can still do work on a local computer that has no internet connection, provided it has all the software and hardware required to do the work in question.

      Cloud doesn’t work at all if you have no internet connection and the more you rely on it, the more you will lose when something happens and you lose your internet access.

    3. ShintoPlasm said on July 15, 2021 at 9:45 am

      The future is where you own nothing permanently. Where everything is cloud, subscription, DRM, and could be taken away from you on a whim. Where you are completely at the mercy of tech giants.

      1. Jody Thornton said on July 15, 2021 at 8:52 pm


        You NEVER DID own anything permanently. you only EVER HAD a license to use the software. The physical media was just conduit for transporting the software. That’s it!

        Why shouldn’t software manufacturers be able to control access to a product THEY own?

      2. Steve said on July 16, 2021 at 1:55 pm


        Excuse me but reading what you wrote was too much for me. Do you understand the difference between having something under your control rather than under an external company control?

        — you buy a song on a CD or download it as an MP3 or FLAC vs. Spotify
        — you buy a movie on a Bluray disc vs Netflix

        You do not own the music nor the movie rights BUT unless they go to your house and punch your face and take the discs you have both. Stop paying Netflix or Spotify and you have nothing. Netflix or Spotify disappears and you have nothing.

      3. Jody Thornton said on July 17, 2021 at 4:59 am


        Yes I understand the difference between physical media and electronic distribution. But LEGALLY, it’s the same – just because you have control of the physical media though doesn’t mean that you’re legally entitled to do more or less with the intellectual property on a disc than you are if it’s electronically distributed.

        It may be “too much” for you, but that doesn’t make me “wrong”. You just been able to get away with using the product outside of the control of the vendor. But if they could have controlled access in the physical media paradigm, don’t you think they would have?

        And before you say anything that opposes that, remember – they own the product – NOT you. A vendor has every right to expect you to use the product in the fashion they wish for you to. Just because you cry fowl at this concept doesn’t change a thing. You can hate that I’m right, but dems the facts!

      4. Steve said on July 17, 2021 at 2:50 pm


        If the former message was too much for me, this one is an order of magnitude much more.

        When you say LEGALLY, you have to be kidding. Most companies have terms and conditions that are not fully legal under the law. The law is what is legal, not an unilaterally written ToS/EULA/etc. And by the way, they reserve the right to change everything the next minute. So, they are tricky and abusive. But you want to trust them and give them control over your stuff (sarcasm incoming … of course, it is not your stuff, given the money bills and pennies you paid that stuff for are property of the goverment and not yours.)

      5. Corky said on July 17, 2021 at 10:15 am

        @Jody Thornton: While it’s true there’s no difference legally we’re not dealing with just the legality here, are we. When you buy a license that comes with a non-cloud SaS piece of software you own that license in perpetuity, if you wanted to use it 10 years from now you ‘legally’ could, if you wanted to use it 100 years from now you ‘legally’ could.

        The license with non-cloud SaS software is agreed and fixed at the moment you hand over your money, that’s something you lose with a subscription based license. If you wanted to use it 10 or 100 years from now there’s no guarantee that you could, heck there’s no guarantee that you could even use a feature of said software from one day to the next.

      6. RobG said on July 16, 2021 at 10:35 am

        Jody said: “You NEVER DID own anything permanently. you only EVER HAD a license to use the software”.

        Users who bought Microsoft Office on disc years ago only have a “license” to use that software, yet they are ‘free’ to use it year in year our – whether connected to the internet or not.. Whereas those using the current Microsoft Office ‘pay per year’; …and soon, with Cloud-based Office, you’ll not only ‘pay as you go’ but you’ll need to be connected online to the Microsoft mother-ship at all times.

      7. anona said on July 15, 2021 at 11:26 am


  14. Jake said on July 14, 2021 at 11:12 pm

    Why not get a VPS, install windows OS on it and you get the same thing and cheaper.

    Ofc u can access it from anywhere lol

  15. Anonymous said on July 14, 2021 at 10:28 pm

    Not interested. My OS should always be local.

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