Cloud computing in 2021
Microsoft has been at the forefront of the cloud computing revolution from the outset. Azure, and its associated virtual desktop service Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD), changed the way that businesses interact with the world around them. Microsoft’s latest offering – Cloud PC via Windows 365 (W365) is built on the AVD technology and can provide a more easily assessable route to virtual desktops for businesses.
Microsoft have proved their commitment to streamlining hybrid working through their release of Windows 365. Through strengthening their offering, the launch of Windows 365 provides you and your customers with now varied VDI options, Azure Virtual Desktop, and now Windows 365.
Azure Virtual Desktop is optimised for flexibility & scalability
Windows 365 is optimised for simplicity & accessibility.
The world of corporate IT solutions can be difficult to navigate. This guide is intended as a brief overview of what each product can offer your business, based on your operational requirements.
What is Azure Virtual Desktop?
Azure Virtual Desktop, or AVD, is Microsoft’s single/multi-user session virtual desktop platform that allows you to virtualise desktops and applications in the cloud. It is the complete solution for multi-workload environments, giving experienced IT administrators full-control and management over their solution.
- Publish your own ‘application groups’ and ‘host pools’ (a group of one or more Virtual Machines)
- Drive down IT costs with Windows 10 Enterprise multi-session functionality
- Make use of back-office tools such as PowerShell to shape your Azure solution around your businesses’ unique set of needs
- Assign roles across your entire solution, and control who has access to what data on a granular level
- Enjoy full control over the environment through the native Azure control pane.
What is Windows 365?
Windows 365, or W365, is Microsoft’s latest desktop virtualization solution, however, instead of offering complete control over instances of virtual hardware and comprehensive admin functionality as is the case with AVD – W365 proves a simpler setup, simpler management and simpler pricing than the Azure Virtual Desktop service via a product called ‘Cloud PC’.
- Instant boot to a personal Cloud PC
- The full Windows experience in the cloud
- Can provide a hands-off, fully managed by Microsoft solution
- Fixed-cost, predictable per-user, per-month pricing plans
- A scalable set of virtual hardware parameters that lets you adjust to changing conditions quickly
AVD vs. W365
Here’s a breakdown of how each platform differs from the other, across several key operational areas:
- AVD – Primarily customer managed with usage-based pricing
- W365 Business – Fixed cost pricing, fully managed by Microsoft
- W365 Enterprise – Fixed cost, partly Microsoft managed
AVD is costed on a consumption basis – i.e. you pay for how many virtual resources you use, and for how long you use them. W365 is paid for on a predictable per-month, per-user basis at a flat rate; however, it’s worth noting that there are still consumption based elements to a W365 Enterprise subscription, for example, the virtual network is customer managed in the same way the virtual network is managed in AVD and therefore is a consumption based solution.
End-user login experience
- AVD – Authenticates using Azure AD
- W365 – Authenticates using Azure AD
Microsoft provides a unified login experience across both AVD and WVD that uses the AVD client (compatible with Windows, Mac/iOS, Android devices and available as a HTML client) to authenticate sessions and provide access to a virtual desktop.
- AVD – Windows 10, Windows 11, Windows 10 Enterprise multi-session, Windows 10 Enterprise, Windows 7 Enterprise, Windows Server 2019, Windows Server 2016, and Windows Server 2012 R2
- W365 – Windows 10, Windows 11
If your business requires virtualised instances of multiple OS types – including server infrastructure and wholesale enterprise environments, then AVD is your only option. Cloud PCs are just that – ‘personal’ computers that are designed for simplistic, homogenous Windows 10/11 environments only.
- AVD – Full administrative access to customised disks
- WVD – Microsoft-managed disks
If your organisation requires full access to all the disks and partitions that you use to store data for backup, auditing, or compliance purposes, AVD is the option for you. WVD provides Cloud PCs with attached virtual disks that are accessible by you for read/write purposes, but fully managed by Microsoft on the back end.
- AVD – Supports FSLogix to distribute multi-user profile access
- WVD – Single-user profiles on a per-machine basis
AVD retains the functionality for both single and multi-user profile setups via the use of profile ‘containers’ – a facility that redirects a user profile to a specific Virtual Machine. W365 deploys Virtual Machines to users as dedicated desktops.