Microsoft integrates Windows 365 natively in Windows 11 with 4 new features

Microsoft was one of the first companies in the pre-pandemic era (yes, pre-COVID life existed) to jump on the hybrid workplace bandwagon. Companies that hire employees to work both physically in designated offices and remotely from their homes were steadily increasing in prevalence. Since most companies use Windows on their computers, there was a huge untapped market that Microsoft could take advantage of and that’s where Windows 365 came last year.

Windows 365 was a new cloud-based service from Microsoft that would allow users to access a Windows installation on any device from anywhere in the world. Cloud PCs (not literally) were made available to companies where they could stream a version of either Windows 10 Where 11 inside a web browser. Many other services have existed before Windows 365 that do the same thing, but that was Microsoft’s own attempt at the idea.

The best thing about Windows 365 is that it automatically saves your progress and data, so whenever you turn on a device and boot into your cloud PC, it always picks up where you left off. Part of the magic here is that the cloud PC never shuts down and it allows you to pick up your work from the exact point where you last left off, even if you switch devices.

Windows 365 and its future

Now Microsoft is looking to take Windows 365 to the next level. The company held a massive Windows event today where it announced a bunch of new Windows features, but also where Windows as a whole is moving forward. Microsoft’s vision for the future is hybrid and they believe in bringing Windows as a service to everyone, everywhere, 24 hours a day, without the need for a local installation.

In the future, Microsoft will integrate Windows 365 into Windows 11 natively so that in the near future you can boot to a Windows 365 cloud PC right from your desktop. There are four new features that Microsoft announced today for Windows 365. All are planned for the coming months and you should see them rolling out gradually to regions around the world.

Starting Windows 365

The first feature to talk about is Windows 365 startup. As the name suggests, this feature will allow users to log into the cloud version of Windows directly from the login screen. Instead of having to log in to the local Windows installation first and then open a browser to access Windows 365. All you have to do is enter your login credentials at the start screen and you will be directly connected to your Windows 365 cloud PC.

Windows 365 | Microsoft mechanics

Microsoft’s goal with this feature is to reduce the IT workload of an organization as a whole. For example, and this example was given by Microsoft itself, frontline workers could be handed out Surface tablets at the start of each shift, from there they would need a local connection to access to Windows 11 and open the browser to access Windows 365. With Windows 365 Boot, it all boils down to a simple direct login from the start screen, saving a lot of time in the end.

Windows 365 switch

Then we have Windows 365 Swift which takes the seamless Windows 365 sign-in experience that Microsoft is building to a whole new level. This option allows you to switch to your Windows 365 Cloud PC directly from the Taskbar through Windows 11 Task To see function that facilitates switching between Virtual desktop computers. Cloud PC will be added as a virtual desktop option in this task view, making it easier than ever to switch to it.

Windows 365 switch functionality in action | The edge

windows 365 offline

Next, Microsoft also plans to take Windows 365 offline. Now I know the beauty of anything cloud-based is that it’s always online and requires an internet connection to use. At some point in the future, Microsoft will allow Windows 365 to work offline. This does not mean that it will be a revolutionary technology that will allow you to access the cloud without an Internet connection.

Windows 365 Offline is a simple concept as it will allow you to work offline on your Windows 365 cloud PC, but your progress will not be saved as there is no internet connection. As soon as you connect to the Internet, Windows 365 syncs with the cloud and updates the servers to now be online with everything you do on your cloud PC. It is basically a security measure that, for example in the event of a network failure, will allow you to continue working even offline, but will reconnect you to the cloud as soon as the Internet connection is restored.

Windows 365 offline feature asking if user wants to continue working offline | Microsoft mechanics

Windows 365 app

Last but not least, a fully-fledged Windows 365 app is in the works for Windows 11. This app would allow you to access Windows 365 from its designated app without having to log into a browser first. You can start the Cloud PC directly from your taskbar with just one click, giving you direct access to your Cloud PC. This helps provide a more personalized experience tailored to your settings, profile, and work style.

The Windows 365 app | Microsoft mechanics

Overall, Microsoft has planned a very ambitious road for Windows 365 as it aims to bridge the gap between onsite, physical and remote work. Panos PrayMicrosoft’s Windows and Surface chief, was quoted as saying that these features are “just the start of our Windows and Microsoft cloud integration“. These new features, along with many more to come, will help make Windows 365 a true hybrid force of nature.

One thing to keep in mind here is that these features will be exclusive to commercial customers, that’s not a problem since Windows 365 is a service available only to businesses, so it has a commercial customer base anyway. It opens our minds to imagine a possible consumer version of Windows 365 for normal users, but it’s probably not a priority for Microsoft, at least not in the near future.

Over the past two years, the organizations that have thrived are those that have embraced digital transformation. We can’t always predict what’s coming, but we can make sure Windows stays on the cutting edge of technology and experiences – from cloud to intelligence to devices – enabling your organization to adopt everything that comes next.

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