A day in Windows 365

Today I set out to experience a day working only in Windows 365, to first hand experience how this would work for consultants like my self.

Hauling a physical computer from all customers just in case.

Introduction:

The idea behind this times use of Windows 365 is to fast and easy administrate a compliant workspace for the external consultants, rather then dealing with everything around a physical device.

As a consultant, I am often carrying multiple PCs with me, but do we have to do that? Do we have to bother customers IT with the means to deliver and redistribute a physical PC for me?

The theoretical answer is No, we can use VDI solutions and they have been around for a long time right.

But if you don’t currently have a big enough setup of terminal services for all your consultants (Azure Virtual Desktop, Citrix, etc), what about Windows 365?

Why Windows 365?

Its quick and easy to deliver a Windows 365 Cloud PC (VDI), and requires nothing of your sysadmins. It can all be configured using Access Packages for consultants to request and your managers to approve. After approval the Windows 365 Cloud PC will automatically be provisioned and be ready to use in a couple of hours, much like physical devices using Windows AutoPilot.

When the consultant has finalized its project, unassign the license and give it to the next consultant. Or we think the consultant is done, so keep in mind when you unassign the license from the consultants user, the Windows 365 Cloud PC will only live for 7 days until it is deleted, for good.

It comes down to faster deployment, faster upgrades/downgrades and less administrative tasks, but! and here comes the big question: Is Windows 365 sufficient for your consultants?

Is Windows 365 sufficient for your consultants?

I don’t know your consultants, but we experience Windows 365 working well for the sysadmins, servicedesk and most developer consultants.

However it is not sufficient for consultants with the need to run heavy workloads of 3D Graphics, as the GPU is just a regular joe in the world of GPUs. That might be in the smaller number of most companies though.

OBS! For you all sysadmins reading this, don’t take all your configuration profiles for physical devices and apply them to the Windows 365 VDIs. It will break stuff, more on that later.

So, how was my day in Windows 365 and what did I come across?

To be honest, before you spend time reading the rest, I did spend the first four hours of my day to troubleshoot issues and understand the difference between the browser session and the remote application experience.

Despite that, how was my day? In overall, not bad 🙂

But what did I do during my day in Windows 365? Today I was operating multiple roles in an IT department and with this comes tasks using browsers, PowerShell, PowerBI and Teams, among other minor applications. A typical day in an IT operations role.

Comparing browser session to remote application

When my Windows 365 Cloud PA was my primary desktop, I prefered the experience through the Remote application, rather then the browser experience.

The camera would not work in the browser session, so that wasnt giving us the best experience being in meetings. Where I like to use my camera and make sure the communication is at its best.

Here is a list of Windows 365 features I tested and my comments:

  • Multilpe Screens is supported and working well with my 32″ curved wide screen and my laptop monitor. When you go out of fullscreen, all the monitors will shrink into one window. So you better have a large monitor, but you do see all the virtual monitors while not being in full screen mode.
  • Uploading and downliad files with the remote application, just like any RDP session you get your local drives mapped. In a browser session, it isn’t supported, but there is an upload feature in the right corner, which uploads files to a storage area, that becomes available as a network drive in your explorer.

Here is a hitch though, because we ran into some trouble, as this feature was unstable and not consistent across users. I didn’t get any network drives. My colleague did some tweaks, but suddenly they where gone again. We had a look at our configuration profiles, that was inherited from the physical devices. Remember thats not necessarily a good idea. Using a administrative template we distributed this GPO setting to all Windows 365 Cloud PCs and after a little waiting, suddenly my local drives where mapped in Windows 365. Didn’t have to restart or wait long. It also maps multiple drives if you have in your local desktop. If you need to try it out, search for “Edit group policy” in your Windows 365 PC and navigate to:

Computer Configuration, Administrative Template, Windows Components, Remote Desktop Services, Remote Desktop Session Host, Devices and Resource redirection, where you will find the setting “Do not allow drive redirection” and set it to disabled.

  • Windows 365 doesn’t have a supported TPM chip for bitlocker encryption, but being a VDI the risk of hardware being stolen is pretty low and the physical drives in Microsoft datacenter are encrypted. Windows 365 do have a virtual TPM in order to support Windows 11.
  • GPU is just your average GPU, so not powerfull for any heavy 3D graphic workloads.
  • Teams was working best from the remote application, because my camera could be used and the camera feed quality from other participant wasn’t very good through the browser. Keep in mind the smallest Windows 365 size is not suited for Teams.
  • Using my consultant PC doesn’t give me Single Sign-On to the Windows 365 Cloud PC using the Remote Application, because I am logged on to my physical device with a different identity. But trying make Windows remember my Windows 365 credentials for next time, doesn’t work either. But it is trying to atleast.
Remember your credentials to seamless sign-on the next time, doesn’t work.
  • If you are working in Windows 365 from a physical device with same identity, and have a camera with IR sensor for Windows Hello support, it does work with facial recognition.

Documentation doesn’t really estinquish between supported in browser session or through the remote application.

I will have to come back and make a longer list of features, when we get even more experience among the different type of consultants. I also have a blogpost coming with a deeper look at the settings especially configurable by Endpoint Manager for Windows 365.

Until next time, have a blast with new technology 🙂

NB! Everything in this blogpost was written from a Windows 365 VDI Cloud PC.


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Ehlo!

I am Roy Apalnes, a Microsoft Cloud Evangelist working av Sopra Steria. Main focus in Microsoft Security and Endpoint Management, with a bigger picture in mind.

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