Microsoft Announces Major Updates to Windows 365

Posted on April 5, 2022 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 365, Windows 11 with 28 Comments

As part of its hybrid work event today, Microsoft announced several useful enhancements to Windows 365, its Cloud PC offering.

“As the pandemic begins to slowly recede, and companies look to adopt more permanent hybrid work strategies, new integrated features are needed to enable more flexible ways of working,” Microsoft general manager Wangui McKelvey explains. “So, we’re bringing the power of the cloud and familiarity of the PC together, giving people an even more seamless Windows experience without sacrificing security.”

While it’s not clear when these new features will arrive, Microsoft has announced the following Windows 365 updates:

Windows 365 app. This new native app for Windows will let users get to their Cloud PC from Start or the Taskbar.

Windows 365 Boot. This new feature will let users designate their Cloud PC as their primary Windows experience on their physical PC and sign into it directly.

Windows 365 Switch. This interesting new capability will let users switch between their Cloud PC and local PC more easily, using Task view in the taskbar, familiar keyboard shortcuts, a mouse/touchpad, or gestures. (Curiously, in the announcement, Microsoft refers to Task view as “Task Switcher,” which may indicate that it is being renamed.)

Windows 365 Offline. As you would expect from the name, this feature will let users access their Cloud PC even when they’re offline, and any changes will sync as soon as connectivity is restored.

As you may recall, Microsoft announced Windows 365 in July 2021 and made the new service available to commercial customers that August for $20 per user per month and up. If you’re curious about the current user experience, you can read my overviews on Windows and on Mac, Chromebook, and Mac.

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Comments (28)

28 responses to “Microsoft Announces Major Updates to Windows 365”

  1. blue77star

    What a rip off.

    • lvthunder

      How so. It's the same price as an equivalent VPS for hosting stuff on the internet. Some companies want their employees work stuff completely separate from their personal stuff.

      • blue77star

        Endless money pit. 365 services are expensive and they suck.

      • navarac

        Some companies....

        I'd say nearly every company would like employees/contractors to keep personal stuff off corporate systems!

        • hrlngrv

          Tangent: if one's employer's IT policy stated that EVERYTHING in company storage became company property, could one lose the right to view and share family photos one were unwise enough to put in company storage? Dunno about the EU, but it'd be an interesting poser on US contract law.

          • Walter Parker

            As far as family photos go, the company gets control of the file that exists on the company equipment, not ownership of the IP for the photo (they don't get the copyright for family photos that you save to your photos folder). And realistically, they don't want that IP. They just want the right backup and delete the files on company equipment. Copyright for photos rests with the photographer (except for certain work for hire situations).

          • barryzee

            Unwise is the operative word. Spent 20 years as IT mgr in a school district. The policy is simple and signed off on by employees and students. Our network is our property. Anything of a personal nature and/or not school related that is saved to our network is not only ours but subject to deletion without warning. Obviously, we don't want them as property for any purpose so the are deleted.

    • jimchamplin

      Unrepentant troll says vaguely pithy thing.

      Story at 11.

  2. rmlounsbury

    I find Microsoft's Cloud PC/Windows 365 product fascinating and something I could see deploying at the office. It ultimately comes down to the cost of a cloud-based desktop vs. a full physical desktop on site. I appreciate the ability to scale a Windows 365 instance on demand w/o having to buy hardware upgrades and deal with installing them.

    A developer needs more memory, cpu, storage, and it appears at some point extra graphics power just deploy it quickly through the admin portal. Being able to access the W365 instance from anywhere via MS Remote Desktop or a browser with HTML5 means you can get pretty barebones and drop a lightweight thin-client or even just go with a Chromebox for simplicity.

    I'd imagine this would be immensely popular in the enterprise/business space and it can be a benefit to SMB's that don't want to deal with a lot of in-house IT and technical requirements.

    When I was first looking at the fine print, I noticed all the extra required licensing. Then realized that for an SMB (300 or fewer employees) you can just buy the instances directly with no extra licensing. It is just a question of whether or not the price of Cloud PC/W365 makes more sense than a physical machine on whatever your refresh cadence is.

    It's rather exciting and I'm looking forward to seeing how it develops.

  3. cruzallen

    I've been using Windows 365 (Cloud PC) for my small consulting company for a few months now and it's working great for us. A couple of billable hours to my client per month covers the cost. (Now that I've proven the concept works for us, and works well, I may just pass on that cost directly. But the point is, it's negligible, when you're already billing.)

    I am able to literally work on the same PC--remote from my home office or local at my client's site on their hardware--without missing a beat. I need access to my client's sensitive data via Windows applications that must be installed. I didn't want it on my own portable hardware and didn't want my client to buy a laptop just for this. This relatively small, fixed, monthly fee gives me access to this excellent solution. And, when I'm ready to move on, I will delete it and that will be that for the sensitive data--another oft-overlooked feature of this solution.

    This is NOT a consumer product, yet. The target demographic is definitely business, and it's off to a great start for my business needs. I'm looking forward to all the new features and watching this service continue to grow.

  4. Paul Thurrott

    Guys. What the hell.

    We're not spreading COVID or vaccine misinformation on this site. If I see this again, I'm deleting you.

  5. davidallen

    Great event, Windows 365 does seem expensive per hardware offered, but when you look at the intended market remember, business will normally pay business rate

  6. red.radar

    I don’t see this product being very interesting if your just wanting to do basic productivity. Productivity software runs on a potato. Why buy a potato pay extra to use the same license locally?

    Where I see the value is running workstation engineering applications that are tricky to setup and maintain. They also need access to extra resources to run well. You could standardize your IT deployment so everyone gets the same potato and then those that need access to these workstation grade applications get a Windows Cloud instance.

    I think its a good product and serves a good need.

  7. SvenJ

    Windows 365 Offline When I am accessing a cloud I9 with 64G of RAM on my Pentium based Surface Go, what should I expect when I am offline?

    • hrlngrv

      To be able to change text color. Maybe even fire up Notepad running locally.

  8. Bart

    I thought the one feature that got the biggest update was: Disappointment

    • lvthunder

      What did you expect them to announce? I think this is a pretty big improvement to the cloud PC stuff.

      • ralfred

        Clearly we were all waiting for the Taskbar being able to be placed in the top and seconds on the time

        • hrlngrv

          Tangent: I've never seen the point to seconds in clocks. Pure distraction. On the few occasions seconds matter, one should be using a stopwatch.

        • jimchamplin

          Personally I was holding out for Excelsior.

  9. navarac

    As the pandemic begins to slowly recede......

    I don't think it is, wishful thinking on Microsofts part!

    • hrlngrv

      Semantics: depends on how one defines over.

      SARSCoV2 may become the next common cold. IN THE SENSE THAT there's absolutely no historical record of how hard what we now call the common cold hit humanity millennia ago. It could easily have had 10% fatality, even higher, and NO ONE TODAY could know for sure. All we'd be able to infer is that we're the descendants of those who didn't die from it before procreating.

      Is the common cold over? As a broadly fatal disease, yes, but who knows how long it took for 99.99% of remaining humanity to get nothing more than a cold from it? Doesn't seem we've reached that point with SARSCoV2.

    • Username

      Nice try at euphemism, but there are very significant differences between COVID and flu (

    • cnc123

      Of course the pandemic is already over. We are in the phase that we are just going to have to live with COVID just like we do with the flu.

      Yeah, sure. The 4,000 people who died from COVID last week aren't going to live with it. And the several thousand who die this week won't either, but it's definitely over.

      • Donte

        Because people never died from anything before covid?

        If we are actually being honest, most of the people that died from covid had health issues already and it was the next big thing that was going to take them out. (CDC just said in Jan, 77.8% of covid deaths are from people with 4 or more comorbidities). A bad flu, cold that turns into pneumonia etc. That is how life works.

        Where I live masks are gone and have been gone for a while. Our offices are filled and everything is open. I had to wear a mask when I flew for spring break and even that was loosely enforced and only on the plane, not at all in the air ports. It is over.

  10. chirowilk

    Isn't all this possible now, without the automation?