Consumers and businesses alike are well used to buying PCs running Microsoft’s Windows operating system and then either installing their own applications, or using Office 365 or other cloud productivity applications.
However this model may soon change radically following reports that Microsoft is working on a new 'Cloud PC service' that will offer both OS and productivity applications via a subscription fee.
ZDNet has discovered that Microsoft was looking for a program manager for its Cloud PC team. The job description is not too detailed, but it gives a brief understanding of what Microsoft is working on and confirms the company’s long-time intention to make Windows a service.
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According to Mary Jo Foley, a journalist with good sources with knowledge of Microsoft’s plans, the software giant intends to roll out its Microsoft Cloud PC in Spring 2021.
Windows as a service
The company’s description of its Cloud PC reads as follows:
"Microsoft Cloud PC is a strategic, new offering that is built on top of Windows Virtual Desktop to delivering Desktop as a Service. At its core, Cloud PC provides business customers a modern, elastic, cloud-based Windows experience and will allow organizations to stay current in a more simplistic and scalable manner."
The Windows Cloud PC is expected to be a “Microsoft 365-powered experience” that will be managed by Microsoft and sold for a fixed per-user price.
Microsoft already offers Windows Virtual Desktop powered by Azure, but this service is charged in accordance with consumption of Azure. Furthermore, Microsoft also offers its Microsoft Managed Desktop (MMD) subscription that includes Windows 10 Enterprise E3, Office 365 ProPlus, Windows Autopilot, and the company’s management service that includes app deployment, updates, device configuration, security monitoring, and 24/7 end-user support. The MMD is only available for select enterprise customers and requires usage of certain hardware.
Microsoft has not disclosed any official details about its Microsoft Cloud PC initiative. Ideally, a Microsoft Cloud PC would enable businesses to buy extremely cheap thin clients and then rent a virtual PC from Microsoft with all software and applications at a fixed price.
Obviously, such an approach has a number of limitations If a business needs scalable ultra-cheap workplaces that do not need management, the idea may work. Meanwhile, it remains to be seen how one adds professional software and hardware to a remote system that is managed by Microsoft.