Windows 12 – Hosted off-device, is it Windows 365 in the future?

Will Windows 11 be the last version without hosted support? Will Windows 12 be the start to host the OS in the Cloud and use your local device for additional performance? Combining the benefits from bought worlds, in a much better way then we have ever seen before.

Your Windows desktop can be as flexible as a virtual machine in Azure, whenever you need better performance.

Past

In the past we have had our own hosted VDI solutions and partner hosted VDI solutions. The three amigos Microsoft, Citrix and VMware of terminal services. Or as we call it today, multi session hosts. Who where running VDI on ESX servers?

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Present

Today we often refer to it as VDI or Virtual Desktop. We have a mix of everything, and the latest is Azure Virtual Desktop and Windows 365.

We separate between multi session hosts and single session host. Difference is users on multi session hosts share the same Virtual machine, where actions can impact other users of the same host. For instance a reboot due to app installation or updates? It needs to be managed with known windows when everyone agrees it maintenance time. It is cost efficient to share resources and even more efficient with only virtualized applications, rest is done on your local desktop.

Single session host is having a Virtual machine all to your own. It can cost more, because you can’t manage the VM size all the time and you probably pay for unused power when your not lifting so heavy. Azure Virtual Desktop supports multi and single session, but Windows 365 only has single session host. Windows 365 will get a feature for shift Workers to share a VM, but never signed-in at the same time. Making it abit cheaper for that use-case.

Windows 365 will also support direct boot to the Cloud PC, only using your device to connect, interact and help out during certain tasks. Tasks like media redirection and Peer-2-Peer communication in Teams.

Besides Cloud PCs, we do have hosted/cloud power working for our devices today. Think about how connected our devices are to cloud services. All Defender products helping us stay secure, and AI services entering our every day tasks. Bought hidden and visible to us.

Stream your desktop from the cloud

Future – What could Windows 12 bring?

Windows 12 can be an optimized version to run in a Cloud PC, and on devices in a different configuration.

This can enable the Cloud PC to leverage performance from the local device, and make the local device a slim version, highly resistant to security issues and have low maintenance. In return, you don’t use the local OS, but always have your Cloud PC available. Even offline, like we see coming in the near future and with the coming feature to boot directly into a Cloud PC.

Rumors aside, could this be the future we are looking at? And would it be sustainable for the supply chain?

I can see this being the future, and I can really like how flexible this would be for me. If the offline mode in Windows 365 will be as good as the local desktop, I would also be fine without having a local desktop. Just boot directly into the Cloud PC, and keep the offline desktop when I loose internet connection.

It can fit and have benefits for every persona previously discussed here, not only the travelling consultant living out of their backpack, hotel to hotel. Although that persona is more home these new past-covid days.

By leveraging the performance from the local device, we will continue to need the local hardware. And as discussed earlier, there is a massive improved security benefit if we can allow personal use on the local desktop, and have our work done in a virtual desktop like Windows 365.

Hardware vendors

Hardware vendors still need to create devices of all sorts, maybe even a wider variation of devices. Some of us still benefit from large amount of local performance, while others is mostly reliant on a good Internet connection. And like servers running on Virtual machines, the Cloud PCs also need hardware better suited for the end-users, maybe even GPU focused VMs in Azure Virtual Desktop. Could make gaming with a Cloud PC, if you don’t have good enough hardware in your device to support a normal Cloud PC.

I do think a transition to Cloud PCs will be harder or longer if the hardware vendors doesn’t have a place in this future. Its a big business, so I wouldn’t take it to lightly if your planning for a future without hardware vendors support.

BUT, the future will come non the less. And I will highly encourage everyone finding themself working against the future, to switch focus to what you can offer the future. Because if you stick with your non-future-proof devices and services, you will probably join the dinosaurs.

Science Fiction future for cars

Lets make it a bit sci-fi and say you use your Cloud PC to drive cars. You get in a car, sign-in using biometry and the car will use your personalized Cloud PC displayed in its cockpit. No matter which or whose car you enter as a driver. Each car has its own application to interact with the car running on you 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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