In today's digital landscape, remote work and cloud-based computing have become more critical than ever before. With the increasing demand for flexible, scalable, and secure solutions, two prominent contenders have emerged: Windows 365 and Azure Virtual Desktop. These offerings promise to revolutionize how businesses manage their virtual desktop environments, but understanding the differences between them is key to making the right choice for your organization.
This article is a comprehensive guide to Windows 365 and Azure Virtual Desktop. We'll explore their features, draw distinctions between the two, and ultimately help you determine the ideal choice for your needs.
Table of Contents:
What is Windows 365?
Windows 365 is a cloud-based desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) solution that provides users with a fully managed Windows 10 or Windows 11 experience. Windows 365 desktops are hosted in the Microsoft cloud and are always up to date with the latest security patches and features. Users can access their Windows 365 desktops from any device with an internet connection, including laptops, desktops, tablets, and smartphones.
Below are the features of Windows 365:
Predictable per-user pricing: Windows 365 is priced on a per-user, per-month basis, so you know exactly what you're paying for. Azure Virtual Desktop is priced on a pay-as-you-go basis, so you only pay for the resources you use.
No need for on-premises infrastructure: Windows 365 is hosted entirely in the cloud, so you don't need to invest in any on-premises infrastructure. Azure Virtual Desktop requires you to have a Windows Server environment, which can be a significant upfront cost.
Simplified management: Windows 365 is fully managed by Microsoft, so you don't have to worry about the day-to-day management of your virtual desktops. Azure Virtual Desktop requires you to have a dedicated IT team to manage the environment.
Easy to scale: Windows 365 is easy to scale up or down as needed, so you can easily accommodate changes in your user base. Azure Virtual Desktop can be more complex to scale, depending on your specific configuration.
Support for Windows 11: Windows 365 supports Windows 11, the latest version of the Windows operating system. Azure Virtual Desktop is currently only compatible with Windows 10.
However, it is important to note that Windows 365 also has some limitations compared to Azure Virtual Desktop. For example, Windows 365 does not support the following features:
Multi-session: Windows 365 only supports single-session virtual desktops. Azure Virtual Desktop can be configured to support multiple users per virtual desktop.
Roaming user profiles: Windows 365 does not support roaming user profiles. Azure Virtual Desktop can be configured to support roaming user profiles, which allows users to access their personal settings and files from any device.
Advanced customization: Windows 365 offers limited customization options. Azure Virtual Desktop offers more advanced customization options, such as the ability to create custom images and scripts.
Windows 365 Usage:
It is used for a variety of purposes, including:
Remote working: Windows 365 allows employees to work from anywhere with an internet connection, providing them with a secure and productive working environment.
Bring your own device (BYOD): Windows 365 can be used with BYOD devices, allowing employees to use their own devices to access their work applications and data.
Education: Windows 365 can be used in schools to provide students with a consistent and reliable computing experience.
Healthcare: Windows 365 can be used in healthcare organizations to provide doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals with access to the applications and data they need to provide care to patients.
Manufacturing: Windows 365 can be used in manufacturing organizations to provide workers with access to the applications and data they need to operate machinery and equipment.
What is Azure Virtual Desktop?
Azure Virtual Desktop is a desktop virtualization platform that allows organizations to deploy and manage virtual desktops in the cloud. AVD can be used to create personal or pooled virtual desktops, and it can be integrated with a variety of Microsoft and third-party applications and services. AVD gives IT administrators more control over the virtual desktop environment than Windows 365, but it also requires more management effort.
Here some of the features which are offered by Azure Virtual Desktop:
Multi-session: Azure Virtual Desktop can be configured to support multiple users per virtual desktop. This can be useful for organizations that need to share virtual desktops, such as call centers or schools.
Roaming user profiles: Azure Virtual Desktop can be configured to support roaming user profiles. This allows users to access their personal settings and files from any device, even if they are not connected to the corporate network.
Advanced customization: Azure Virtual Desktop offers more advanced customization options than Windows 365. This includes the ability to create custom images and scripts and to integrate with other Azure services.
Support for Windows Server: Azure Virtual Desktop can be used to run Windows Server applications, such as Microsoft SQL Server and Microsoft Exchange Server.
Support for legacy applications: Azure Virtual Desktop can be used to run legacy applications that are not compatible with newer versions of Windows.
However, it is important to note that Azure Virtual Desktop also has some limitations compared to Windows 365. For example, Azure Virtual Desktop is more complex to manage than Windows 365. It also requires more IT expertise to set up and maintain.
The Difference: Windows 365 vs. Azure Virtual Desktop
In the preceding section, we covered Windows 365 and Azure Virtual Desktop. Now, in this section, let's catch the difference between the two.
Azure Virtual Desktop
Desktop Virtualization platform
Based on Windows 11
Based on Windows 10 or Windows server
Uses local SSD for storage
Uses different storage options such as Azure Managed Disks, Azure Files and Azure Blob Storage.
Uses a dedicated network for communication between the virtual desktops and the internet
Azure Virtual Desktop can use a variety of networking options, such as Azure Virtual Network, ExpressRoute, and VPN.
Windows 365 provides a more consistent end-user experience because all users are accessing the same virtual desktops.
Azure Virtual Desktop can provide a more customized end-user experience because each user can have their own virtual desktop.
Integration with other Microsoft Products
Windows 365 is more tightly integrated with other Microsoft products, such as Microsoft 365 and Intune.
Azure Virtual Desktop can be integrated with other Microsoft products, but it requires more configuration.
Windows 365 is priced on a per-user, per-month basis,
Azure Virtual Desktop is priced based on the resources you use.
Windows 365 is a fully managed solution, which means that Microsoft handles all of the deployment and management tasks.
Azure Virtual Desktop is a self-managed solution, which means that you will need to handle all of the deployment and management tasks yourself or with the help of a third-party vendor.
Windows 365 only supports single-session desktops
Azure Virtual Desktop can be configured to support multi-session desktops which means multiple users can share a single virtual desktop in Azure Virtual Desktop.
Uses security features such as Azure Active Directory, Azure Security Center, and Azure Firewall, to protect the virtual desktops.
Uses the same security features but requires more configurations as compared to Windows 365.
Which is Right for you?
The best choice for you will depend on your specific needs and requirements. If you are looking for a simple, easy-to-use DaaS solution with a high level of security, then Windows 365 is a good option. If you need more flexibility and control over your virtual desktop environment, Azure Virtual Desktop is a better choice.
Here are some additional factors to consider when choosing between Windows 365 and Azure Virtual Desktop:
The number of users: If you have a small number of users, then Windows 365 may be a more cost-effective option. However, if you have many users, then Azure Virtual Desktop may be a better choice.
The level of IT expertise: If you have a small IT team or no IT team at all, then Windows 365 is a good option because it is fully managed by Microsoft. However, if you have a large IT team with experience in managing virtual desktop environments, then Azure Virtual Desktop may be a better choice.
The specific applications and services you need to run: Windows 365 and Azure Virtual Desktop can run most Windows applications, but some applications may require specific configurations or settings that are not available in either solution. If you have specific application requirements, you should consult Microsoft to determine which solution is best for you.
From this article, you've gained insights into the unique features of Windows 365 and Azure Virtual Desktop, understood the distinctions that set them apart, and gathered essential knowledge to assist you in making an informed decision.
As you consider these virtual desktop solutions for your organization, remember to assess your specific requirements, scalability needs, and security concerns. By carefully weighing these factors, you can confidently choose between Windows 365 and Azure Virtual Desktop, setting the course for enhanced productivity and efficiency in your digital workspace.