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Windows 365 Cloud PC vs Azure Virtual Desktop

Microsoft has announced Windows 365, available from August 2021. While Microsoft also offers Azure Virtual Desktop (previously Windows Virtual Desktop), there are significant differences between the two Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) solutions.

The primary difference between Windows 365 Cloud PC and Azure Virtual Desktop is the transaction model. While Azure Virtual Desktop subscription is based on resource consumption, Windows 365 Cloud PC is based on a fixed monthly cost, primarily because the former is a virtual desktop infrastructure, and the latter is a one-of-its-kind Windows experience as a streaming service.

Unlike Azure Virtual Desktop in which everything related to the session host VMs is managed by customers, Windows 365 Cloud PC is available through a Microsoft-managed Azure subscription. Consequently, features such as auto scaling and reserved instances are available with Azure Virtual Desktop that can reduce costs significantly, but not with Windows 365 Cloud PC that supports only permanent assignment to dedicated users.

In terms of admin and user experience, Azure Virtual Desktop offers a wider range of options for management but requires more technical skills. Azure Virtual Desktop relies on Azure management concepts, while Windows 365 can be administered using Microsoft tools to manage physical desktops. Azure Virtual Desktop supports Azure Backup services, Azure Monitor, Azure Files Share, Azure NetApp Files, and even Windows Server operating system. However, the self-service capabilities for end-users are limited with Azure Virtual Desktop. On the other hand, Windows 365 users can perform basic operations, such as system restart using the cloud PC web portal. However, the lack of access at the storage or hypervisor level in Windows 365 limits administrative flexibility.

Lastly, while Azure Virtual Desktop is primarily designed for flexibility, Windows 365 Cloud PC is designed for simplicity and ease of access. Here is a summary of the differences between Windows 365 Cloud PC vs Azure Virtual Desktop.

Features Windows 365 Cloud PC
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Azure Virtual Desktop sign up now
Platform Type Software-as-service (SaaS) solution for streaming Windows experience Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) platform
Pricing Per user per month
Resource consumption based
Auto-Scaling NO yes
Native Self Service NO yes
Subscription Options Business, Enterprise Personal, Pooled
Backup & Disaster Recovery No Native Method Multiple options, including Azure Site Recovery and Azure Backup
Citrix and VMware Integration NO yes
Remote App Streaming NO yes
Optimized For Simplicity Flexibility
License & OS
Windows Server Supported NO yes
Microsoft 365 Required yes NO
Management & Deployment
Azure Subscription Microsoft Managed Customer Managed
Compute Microsoft Managed Customer Managed
Storage Microsoft Managed Customer Managed
Networking Microsoft Managed (Business),
Customer Managed (Enterprise)
Customer Managed
Identity Management
Identity Management NO yes
AD DS NO yes
Desktop Images Limited Options All Images Supported

*Subject to change. Based on information available on Microsoft public platforms.

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