Microsoft's business-focused Windows 365 Cloud PC subscription starts at $20/mo

Humza

Posts: 896   +164
Staff member
What just happened? Microsoft has announced general availability and pricing information of Windows 365 Cloud PC, the subscription service revealed at Microsoft Inspire 2021. Windows 365 takes Microsoft's OS to the cloud and allows customers to stream it on any internet-connected device, with a starting price of $20 per month per user. The service is launching in two flavors: Business and Enterprise, with the latter version aimed at larger companies having 300+ users. In addition to Windows 10, Microsoft will also bring Windows 11 to the Cloud PC service when the OS launches later this year.

Windows 365 Cloud PC is Microsoft's subscription-based service for the modern hybrid workspace, aimed at delivering the benefits and security of the cloud to small and big businesses. Microsoft recently announced general availability of Windows 365, alongside pricing information for its Business and Enterprise tiers, which differ in terms of features and user environment.

Capped at 300 users, the Business version is meant for smaller companies and starts at $24 per month per user. This comes with a single virtual core, 2GB of RAM, 64GB of storage and 12GB of outbound data. Microsoft will reduce this tier's price to $20/mo/user for companies with Windows Hybrid Benefit, which allows them to apply existing/new licenses towards the cost of this cloud service.

Alongside a few other plans, the top-end config in the Business flavor costs $162/mo/user ($158 with Windows Hybrid Benefit) and comes with eight virtual cores, 32GB of RAM, 512GB of storage and 70GB of outbound data.

Windows 365 hardware support varies depending on user device/endpoint

The Enterprise version of Windows 365 drops the 300 user limit, allowing large organizations to scale as needed. Enterprise offers the same configs as the Business variant, albeit with the latter's discounted prices as standard.

Companies will need a Microsoft 365 subscription to access Windows 365 Business, notes ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley, while the service's Enterprise version will require that they meet the following criteria:

  • With Windows Pro endpoints: Windows 10 E3 + EMS E3 or Microsoft 365 F3/E3/E5/BP
  • With non-Windows Pro endpoints: Windows VDA E3 + EMS E3 or Microsoft 365 F3/E3/F5/BP
  • Azure subscription

Additionally, Microsoft says the Windows 365 service will allow users to remotely log into any of their apps, including demanding programs like video editing and graphic design software. It has also recommended VM configs and apps based on user role.

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SirDigby

Posts: 838   +664
TechSpot Elite
1 core and 2gb of ram: THE FUTURE IS NOW!!!!

Seriously I didn't expect their prices to be such a rip-off from the get go.
I don't know much about corporate IT as I specialise in VoIP, but yeah my reaction to this was $24 a month for 1core/2GB?! Considering you'd need to purchase hardware probably more capable than that to ACCESS this service, it kind of defeats the point?
I guess this could be for employers trying to implement a BYOD policy, but even then, After a year, year and a half you'd be spending more than what buying outright cost.

You'd still need an IT team to manage the service, but I guess only a skeleton crew because infrastructure updates would be handled by Microsoft instead?

Still, sounds like a rip-off for all but small startup companies, can't imagine many businesses throwing out their infrastucture, devices and support teams for this in a hurry.
 

Dimitriid

Posts: 1,131   +2,145
I don't know much about corporate IT as I specialise in VoIP, but yeah my reaction to this was $24 a month for 1core/2GB?! Considering you'd need to purchase hardware probably more capable than that to ACCESS this service, it kind of defeats the point?
I guess this could be for employers trying to implement a BYOD policy, but even then, After a year, year and a half you'd be spending more than what buying outright cost.

You'd still need an IT team to manage the service, but I guess only a skeleton crew because infrastructure updates would be handled by Microsoft instead?

Still, sounds like a rip-off for all but small startup companies, can't imagine many businesses throwing out their infrastucture, devices and support teams for this in a hurry.
I think the thought behind it is that companies that might offer permanent telecommuting arrangements might want to save some money with bring-your-own-device schemes but if you're going to have employees waiting 5 minutes to open a simple spreadsheet because their virtual desktop is so unbelieveable limited in cpu and ram then why bother? Also most employees have to interact with either a CRM or an ERP system of sorts and I can tell you those will absolutely crawl at those specs.

You'd think that with such aggressively low entry point they'd try to match that with an equally aggressively low pricing: this should be like 5 bucks on top of Office 365 at most since it's basically only good for emergency use.

Of course the clever ones among us might be thinking: ultra light linux distros can probably run half way ok on 1 core so it can be responsive, you probably just wouldn't be able to do anything you'd need for a basic office employee because I just don't see people training office personnel to be able to use VIM on a virtual instance to check their emails and write documents on command line, just a hunch on that one.
 

Steve Lalancette

Posts: 34   +29
We got burned by this kind of 'cloud' crap in our company... Everything as a service seems to be crap. We're in 2021 and nothing works great 'as a service'. This 'technology' is not ready by far and we can't rely on external help. Apparently, the cost seems low at first glimpse... But let me tell you that if your environment is frozen with this cloud thing... It a very, very high cost to support by waiting to get that damn thing working again.
 

Theinsanegamer

Posts: 2,724   +4,259
I don't know much about corporate IT as I specialise in VoIP, but yeah my reaction to this was $24 a month for 1core/2GB?! Considering you'd need to purchase hardware probably more capable than that to ACCESS this service, it kind of defeats the point?
I guess this could be for employers trying to implement a BYOD policy, but even then, After a year, year and a half you'd be spending more than what buying outright cost.

You'd still need an IT team to manage the service, but I guess only a skeleton crew because infrastructure updates would be handled by Microsoft instead?

Still, sounds like a rip-off for all but small startup companies, can't imagine many businesses throwing out their infrastucture, devices and support teams for this in a hurry.
Oh I can imagine some CEO deciding this is a great idea, throwing the baby out with the bathwater, and then finding out after the first hitch that they now must pay $$$$$ to do what they did before on 10 year odl workstations, and have to pay triple for contractors to fix their IT situation after they laid off the guys who knew what they were doing.

Anyone with two brain cells can see what a disaster this will be for implementation, and the sheer cost of continued subscriptions. But much like outsourcing to india, every IT department is goign to have to make the same mistake again before realizing how stupid this is.
 

Fox God Records

Posts: 67   +65
And here we have the reason why Windows 11 requires TPM 2.0. Microsoft has been trying to force Windows-as-a-service for years, and now they've made the move. The next level is for the home user to be sucked in at $5 or $10 per month for a VM that can do basic browsing/email/streaming with no standalone option. Call me crazy, you know it's coming.
 

BadThad

Posts: 659   +720
We got burned by this kind of 'cloud' crap in our company... Everything as a service seems to be crap. We're in 2021 and nothing works great 'as a service'. This 'technology' is not ready by far and we can't rely on external help. Apparently, the cost seems low at first glimpse... But let me tell you that if your environment is frozen with this cloud thing... It a very, very high cost to support by waiting to get that damn thing working again.

When businesses become too depending on "the cloud" (really just client server with a fancy name) you're at the mercy of two important things:

1) Internet - How do you operate your business when it goes down? YOU DON'T!
2) Support - When something isn't working right you're at the mercy of some MS tech in India reading a script from his screen. NO THANKS!
 

BadThad

Posts: 659   +720
And here we have the reason why Windows 11 requires TPM 2.0. Microsoft has been trying to force Windows-as-a-service for years, and now they've made the move. The next level is for the home user to be sucked in at $5 or $10 per month for a VM that can do basic browsing/email/streaming with no standalone option. Call me crazy, you know it's coming.

Nope, you're DEAD on correct here. The goal is to give us all dumb terminals which depend on internet access to do ANYTHING. At that point, they have total and complete control over you and also to any "usage data" they might collect.

The other side, it will be a haxors paradise. It only takes one haxor to get in and steal EVERYTHING.
 

GettCouped

Posts: 22   +48
TechSpot Elite
And here we have the reason why Windows 11 requires TPM 2.0. Microsoft has been trying to force Windows-as-a-service for years, and now they've made the move. The next level is for the home user to be sucked in at $5 or $10 per month for a VM that can do basic browsing/email/streaming with no standalone option. Call me crazy, you know it's coming.

TPM 2.0 is more about security which is a tremendous concern and needs to be pushed.

As a service is just more about limiting the cost in manpower and infrastructure to manage local machines and targeted towards companies. You or I aren't the point of this and I'm not touching it with a 10 foot pole.
 

GettCouped

Posts: 22   +48
TechSpot Elite
When businesses become too depending on "the cloud" (really just client server with a fancy name) you're at the mercy of two important things:

1) Internet - How do you operate your business when it goes down? YOU DON'T!
2) Support - When something isn't working right you're at the mercy of some MS tech in India reading a script from his screen. NO THANKS!

1) For the most part many business don't operate with anything without the internet in today's world and it needs to become a utility like electricity and water..
2) I'm a sysadmin and I am pushing the move to the cloud. I don't have to worry about keeping the system running at a low level which is mostly just boring and tedious work. I work on configuring and maintaining the environment. And as techs are constantly resource limited not having to worry as much about DR and patching is a relief.
 

Avro Arrow

Posts: 1,800   +2,155
TechSpot Elite
1 core and 2gb of ram: THE FUTURE IS NOW!!!!

Seriously I didn't expect their prices to be such a rip-off from the get go.
Yeah, that's just ridiculous. Who's gong to pay $240 per year for that? For that matter, who has a device with one core and only 2GB of RAM?
And here we have the reason why Windows 11 requires TPM 2.0. Microsoft has been trying to force Windows-as-a-service for years, and now they've made the move. The next level is for the home user to be sucked in at $5 or $10 per month for a VM that can do basic browsing/email/streaming with no standalone option. Call me crazy, you know it's coming.
I don't think you're crazy but I don't see it being even remotely successful if they try implementing it because we already have versions of Windows that don't require this. Microsoft will be having to depend on people actually adopting it and if history is anything to go by, adoption of a new Windows version takes years. Remember how long people used XP for because Vista was terrible? Hell, even today, with Windows 10 giving way to Windows 11, you can still get by just fine with Windows 7.
Oh I can imagine some CEO deciding this is a great idea, throwing the baby out with the bathwater, and then finding out after the first hitch that they now must pay $$$$$ to do what they did before on 10 year odl workstations, and have to pay triple for contractors to fix their IT situation after they laid off the guys who knew what they were doing.

Anyone with two brain cells can see what a disaster this will be for implementation, and the sheer cost of continued subscriptions. But much like outsourcing to india, every IT department is goign to have to make the same mistake again before realizing how stupid this is.
Very few CEOs have two brain cells to rub together.
TPM 2.0 is more about security which is a tremendous concern and needs to be pushed.
There are other ways to secure one's system. For example, I could run Windows XP x64 (if it had any software that worked with it) and with the power of a modern PC, I could run it as a virtual machine which would make it almost impossible for hackers to do anything to it. Is a VM foolproof? No, but I'm willing to bet that TPM 2.0 isn't foolproof either.

Microsoft's one reason for everything that they do is getting more of your money. They wouldn't care less about your security if it didn't help their bottom line to do so. Are there threats out there? Sure there are. Are they made to appear far more dangerous than they really are to sell people on anything and everything in the name of security? Sure they are.

In almost 40 years of using a PC, I have had a virus attack my PC only once. That's not because I'm lucky, it's because I don't do generally do stupid things. In the case of the virus I got, it was the Java Byte Virus and the only reason I had it was because I was using the Microsoft Java that was included with Windows XP instead of downloading and using Sun Java like I should have. Since then, no viruses, no malware and no getting hoodwinked by some scammer in India trying to Syskey my PC so they can hold it for ransom. Even if they did, my system drive has nothing on it that I can't just re-install without issue so I could just take my system drive, pop it into another PC, format it and re-install Windows along with all my other programs. It's actually pretty easy because I keep a back-up of my "users" directory so that I can just transfer it over and my PC is back to normal again.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that security isn't important. I'm just saying that if you're properly prepared, there's nothing that you can't work around if you "lose the lottery" and get hacked. It's amazing how few people, when faced with evidence that they're being hacked, ever even think of something as simple as "pulling the plug". Disconnecting your internet or simply turning your PC off stops ALL hackers dead in their tracks. The reason that hackers go after "big fish" like Supercomputers and Data Centres is because there's a tonne more interesting stuff to find and the owner won't be willing to just turn it off. Security is important but I'm not letting MS bend me over and "give'er" because I bought in to their fear-mongering about security on my home PC.
 
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scavengerspc

Posts: 1,677   +1,729
TechSpot Elite
Bash me as needed folks, but I can see a good reason for this in business\enterprise. Think of it, never a need to fiddle with updates and baby sitting the on site machines will be far, far less of a bother. Leading to less IT personnel on the payroll. Way less need to worry about hardware or upgrades. And maybe on top of it all, no need to worry about virus' and ransomware.

Not a consideration for me, even with my business machines. But I do see a market.
 

Avro Arrow

Posts: 1,800   +2,155
TechSpot Elite
Bash me as needed folks, but I can see a good reason for this in business\enterprise. Think of it, never a need to fiddle with updates and baby sitting the on site machines will be far, far less of a bother. Leading to less IT personnel on the payroll. Way less need to worry about hardware or upgrades. And maybe on top of it all, no need to worry about virus' and ransomware.

Not a consideration for me, even with my business machines. But I do see a market.
I agree with you that there is a market, I just don't think that there's a market for it as it is currently being offered.