Most of us Microsoft watchers have been expecting Microsoft to build a true virtualized environment on Windows PC for years. Okay, it’s happening, perhaps as early as 2021 Fall.
Currently, Microsoft calling the coming virtualization service, “Cloud PC.” Cloud PC will not replace your locally installed Windows (and Office) — for the foreseeable future, anyway. It will be an option for customers wanting to use their own Windows PCs made by Microsoft and/or other PC makers basically like thin clients, with Microsoft virtually delivering Windows, Office, and potentially other software offered virtually by Microsoft.
Description Provided by Microsoft
Microsoft’s Cloud PC is a strategic, new offering built on top of Windows Virtual Desktop to deliver Desktop as a Service. Cloud PC provides business customers with a modern, elastic, cloud-based Windows experience at its core and will allow organizations to stay up to date in a simpler and more scalable way.
Microsoft aims to transform Cloud Computing into a Microsoft-365-powered platform operated by Microsoft and sold at a flat per-user price. This pricing is the key. Pricing for Windows Virtual Desktop revolves around using Azure. Cloud PC sounds like there’ll be a fixed subscription fee available.
Recently, Microsoft had dropped some hints that it was looking to build some form of virtualized Desktop management experience. In February, Scott Manchester, who had been a Group Program Manager for Windows Virtual Desktop, took a new role as Group Program Manager for “Cloud Managed Desktops.” I’m guessing that this team, along with Windows engineering, are the ones honing the Cloud PC vision and deliverables.
Now the most obvious question is when we can expect from Microsoft to unveil its Cloud PC service/offering. As per some reports, it could happen as early as next spring. However, Microsoft officials would not talk about Cloud PC at all and provided the “Microsoft will not comment on rumors and speculation” boiler-plate answer to the query.
If the concept of a Microsoft-managed Cloud PC sounds familiar in some ways, it’s no surprise.
Microsoft historians may recall back to 2014 or so when reports were rife that Microsoft was about to launch a subscription service called “Windows 365.” At the time, officials at Microsoft said they had no plans to launch such a service.
Several versions of Windows have since been made available by Microsoft as part of various subscription plans (Microsoft 365 / Windows E3, E5, etc.). And in 2017, Microsoft execs used “Microsoft 365-powered computer” briefly to refer to Windows PCs but later phased out the nomenclature.
Microsoft is also currently providing a service called the Microsoft Managed Desktop (MMD), a subscription offering that Microsoft can set up, upgrade, and manage Windows 10 PCs for a fee for business users. MMD covers Microsoft 365 (Windows 10 Enterprise E3 and Office 365 ProPlus in particular); Windows Autopilot; and Windows 10 hardware. Microsoft is introducing system tuning, security monitoring and remediation, installation of software, upgrade management, application analytics, and end-user support 24-by-7. This is a facility that is actually only being used by certain major corporate customers.