Microsoft to Announce Cloud PC Next Week

Posted on July 7, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Cloud, Microsoft 365 with 17 Comments

According to a new report, Microsoft will finally unveil its Cloud PC offering next week, at its virtual Inspire partner conference.

News of the announcement comes via ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley, who undertook a Sherlock Holmes-like investigation to uncover the timing. According to Foley, Microsoft has scheduled a July 15 session for Inspire called “What’s Next in End-User Computing” that will focus on “the newest Microsoft cloud solution for enabling hybrid work.” One of the speakers at that session is Scott Manchester, the Director of Program Management for Cloud Managed Desktops and “a leader in the development of Windows Virtual Desktop, Remote Desktop Services, Second Screen Remoting, Multimedia, and Networking technologies.” And Manchester is working on Cloud PC.

Foley says she had heard from sources previously that Microsoft planned to launch Cloud PC “this summer,” so this timing matches up.

As Foley describes it, Cloud PC—once codenamed Deschutes—is a virtualization-based desktop-as-a-service offering that will allow customers to access remote Windows desktops and software like Microsoft Office, effectively turning whatever client device they’re using into a thin client. Microsoft will offer Cloud PC at a flat per-user price, which differentiates it from current solutions like Azure Virtual Desktop, which uses a consumption model.

“[Cloud PC] also seamlessly allows endpoint managers to instantly provision cloud-hosted PCs and manage physical and virtual devices through a unified portal and a fixed and predictable price,” a Cloud PC job posting, since edited, once read.

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Comments (17)

17 responses to “Microsoft to Announce Cloud PC Next Week”

  1. StagyarZilDoggo

    "once codenamed Deschutes"

    Will it run on a Pentium II? ;-)

  2. ghostrider

    Here it comes - MS have offered these type of enterprise services for a while, and now it's the consumers turn. Two words - subscription and revenue. Anyone who didn't see this coming was blind and stupid! This is the way for MS now - every single thing in their cloud, and you paying monthly for the privilege. I give it 5 years, and this will be the preferred way to get a windows desktop, and it will work from anything (thin clients, Chromebooks, Mac, Linux etc).

  3. pherbie

    My company is already a heavy user of Azure Virtual Desktops (recently renamed from Windows Virtual Desktops), essentially a shared Win10 in the Azure cloud. 10 users per host, it is blindingly fast for standard office apps. Certainly compared to the models of PC's my company would purchase for workers.

    The problem, as always, is bandwidth.

    There's a huge amount to be said for this operating model in a corporate environment. including roaming workers, working from home etc. Centrally manged, easy to deploy, scale up/down etc.

    No reason why it doesn't make sense for a home user either. A cheap, light, mobile, thin-client device that just connects you to a monster PC in the cloud (even a phone or tablet). Managed, backed up, secure, protected. Never have to pay for an expensive notebook again.

  4. Jasi

    Why all the doubting Thomases? If I can spend the same thing I spend on a Netflix subscription and never have to install or update another version of Windows in my lifetime, I'll be one happy camper. As for specs - of course I'm going to buy something that can stand on it's own. Whether or not business type Apps are included or not should come down to the difference between $10 and $15 per month. Given this choice, this would be a no brainer for me and probably millions of others - techies not included.

  5. Andrew Jackson

    While I like the sound of this in theory I can’t think of any use cases that would generate any real volume. 


    Sure, Cloud PC will make it easier to support and manage the cloud desktop but end-users will still need a thin client – and many of those thin clients are going to need to be ‘PC-like’, with a physical keyboard, mouse, a monitor, or a basic laptop – most likely running Windows too. Many people running a Windows PC today for home or enterprise use are unlikely to suddenly find that Cloud PC via an iPad is a viable alternative.  (I guess Chromebooks may be viable clients, esp for the Education market)


    Cloud PC could add some flexibility but many folks probably still need a local physical Windows PC as their primary client.

    • ken_loewen

      Right, local physical *device* but, as you point out, could be iPad, could be last year's PC or Chromebook, could be phone streaming to the TV in the family room. Getting the processor/RAM/storage/OS as a service opens up the opportunity for the local physical device requirement to be satisfied by an even wider pool of options than ever before - further differentiating Microsoft and its partner ecosystem from the Apple walled garden. I wouldn't want to be a laptop product manager as this starts to impact demand for the "latest & greatest".

  6. waethorn

    The biggest problem with Microsoft is that they never seem to get the licensing and pricing plans right on this.


    For many, the best way to sell is to have 3 different plan rates to choose from. And just as importantly, to not have to pre-purchase licensing for the OS or Office through a legacy channel. This is a common complaint about the current system where you can pay money to subscribe to Azure Virtual Desktop, but you don't have any kind of OS or Office license unless you subscribe to a very expensive enterprise desktop Windows license that includes the rights to use Virtual Desktop. It's a complete non-starter for SMB's where hardware is purchased as needed for replacement and expected to last 5+ years without the need for constant paid maintenance and management plans.


    If you take their minimum requirements for Windows 11 as a basis for a VM - 4GB of RAM, 64GB of solid-state storage with a modest processor - what does that cost on a monthly basis? A computer with a new Core i3 with a 256GB SSD and 8GB of RAM might cost you $500USD or less. If you divided that up into 5 years of monthly payments, you're talking about $10/mth. I'm sure there's lots of room to "optimize" that to still exceed the requirements of Windows 11 as a VM, so paying something like $15/mth for one with Office seems doable.


    But that's not what Microsoft charges for it through Azure Virtual Desktop. The basic 4GB RAM "Microsoft Office" virtual desktop costs almost $29, but then it's another $20 for the requisite Microsoft 365 subscription which includes SharePoint, Exchange Online, enterprise email options, additional OneDrive cloud storage, etc....many things that small businesses don't care about. If you have a small business of 20 employees, you're talking about a cool $980 in tech expenditures EVERY MONTH and you're not even acquiring anything tangible? If you're a tech consultant, any business owner is going to laugh you out of the room with a quote like that.

    • spacein_vader

      Most businesses here tend to work on a 3 year cycle for amortisation of an asset like a pc rather than 5 so that will help.


      The main driver for business wanting this rather than buying computers is the same reason they like SaaS: it sits in the OpEx part of the budget rather than CapEx.

      • waethorn

        Very few small or even medium-sized businesses work that way. That's a realm of enterprise structure that smaller businesses don't approach.

  7. cbruscato

    I feel like there are a lot of people commenting here that don't know Windows Virtual Desktop exists on Azure today. It is certified for both AutoCAD and Adobe Creative Cloud applications and runs at 60 FPS when connected via the HTML5 client in a browser. I'm not sure what Microsoft is showing off next week, unless it's just a rebranding. This has been available for some time already.

  8. red.radar

    This could be great for Workstation heavy applications like engineering development tools.


    However, the license agreements of many of those tools forbid virtualization to protect business models. Its cool technlogy but I am afraid there are legal hurdles that impede adoption.

  9. thalter

    So is Microsoft's answer to AWS Workspaces?

    • ken_loewen

      ..and so many others - including saving up for the latest gaming rig. If this was incorporated into my annual Microsoft 365 subscription and I had to just check a box to add XBox Game Pass Ultimate - and one of the Cloud PCs was a Cloud XBox game console - I'm no longer waiting in line for supply-constrained processor capacity. Now the entire home computing landscape changes to thin clients, fast wired/wireless internet, large monitors, and preferred interface devices (keyboards, controllers, mouse, Hololens, smart device).

  10. chrisrut

    This is EXACTLY what I wanted when I was an IT Director - clouds of PCs in the MS cloud - need more? Pop. Pop. Pop.


    I was an early adopter - I helped write Microsoft's virtualization exams back in the day - when virtualization first merged into VDI. To me, it's a big deal, this.


    Almost makes me wish I weren't retired. That's a joke...


    Paul's columns are about the only industry news I see... No joke. Thanks Paul!

  11. melinau

    I'm now ancient & retired, but when I was an IT Manager, I should have loved this kind of scheme.

    I now volunteer for a non-profit organisation & their operating model is highly distributed, with around 50 Staff many of whom work flexibly away from base. Our organisation has little or no budget for IT support & the users are not IT experts! Switching to devices configured more like Chromebooks, with the build complexity relegated to, & managed in the Cloud has a lot of potential to work well for us.

    The crux is going to be cost & Bandwidth requirements. Sadly, If past performance is anything to go by MS will get this badly wrong.....

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