Windows 365 vs. Azure Virtual Desktop: What Are the Differences?

August, 2021

Windows 365, Microsoft's most current desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) product, has lately created a stir among companies owing to the minor variations between it and its predecessors.

The fact that Microsoft has not yet made it obvious to businesses when they should make the switch from Azure Virtual Desktop, the company's other DaaS offering, has further added to the confusion among consumers and businesses alike.

It's possible that these two DaaS solutions have their own differences. They are, however, insufficiently significant to be considered important.

As a consequence, companies are asking themselves how these two solutions compare, what their differences are, and which DaaS they should use in the future, among other things.

About the Microsoft Windows 365 Launch

Microsoft recently made Windows 365 available on August 2, 2021. It’s marketed as a “virtual desktop that customers can use and manage like a physical computer.”

Because of the subtle differences that don’t reveal much, businesses are coming up to the conclusion that Windows 365 is nothing more than a simplified version of Azure Virtual Desktop as a result of this sales pitch (AVD).

As stated by Modality Systems IT Architect Tom Arbuthnot that, although Windows 365 is quite similar to Azure Virtual Desktop - nevertheless, it has been put in a more "easier" packaging that makes it more comprehensible for consumers.

Furthermore, Windows 365 is offered in two different editions: business and enterprise editions. Individual users and small businesses that usually buy computers from commercial vendors are the primary beneficiaries of the business tier. Meanwhile, PCs that are controlled by the business are eligible for the enterprise tier.

A Glimpse Into the Differences

At a glance, here are some examples of the features included in Windows 365:

1. Operating Systems

Installing Windows 365 on Windows 10 or Windows 11 is possible (on launch). Microsoft Azure Virtual Desktop, on the other hand, supports Windows 10 Enterprise multi-session, Windows 10 Enterprise, Windows 7 Enterprise, as well as Windows Server 2019 and Windows Server 2016.

2. Compute

Windows 365 computing will be completely managed by Microsoft, with a set fee and no direct administration access to the underlying Virtual Machines (VMs). Computer use is controlled by the client in AVD, with consumption-based pricing and more flexibility in creating virtual machines. If you need a monster video rendering system with numerous 3090 GPUs and TBs of RAM, AVD will continue to be the place to go.

3. Networking

This is where Windows 365 Enterprise differs from Windows 365 Business. Enterprise offers completely customer-managed networking, which includes customizable routing, IP addresses, and security measures. Meanwhile, Windows 365 Business will continue to be fully controlled by Microsoft, with no room for customization. Because there is no Microsoft administration available for AVD, networking flexibility is a must.

4. Subscription Models

All virtual desktop solutions require Azure Subscriptions; however, Windows 365 subscriptions are completely housed inside Microsoft's Azure subscription and will be handled entirely by Microsoft at fixed prices. Meanwhile, Azure Virtual Desktop is completely controlled by the client and has a flexible consumption-based pricing model.

5. User Profiles

In Microsoft's Azure cloud computing environment, the single-user managed desktop Windows 365 will be available. This means that it will have just one user profile and will not need the administration of many user profiles.

User profiles are stored as Virtual Hard Disk v2 (VHDX) files by the FSLogix profile container in Azure Virtual Desktop. On sign-in to AvD, the user is directed to the data and settings stored in a container, and a virtual disk is mounted to allow the virtual desktop environment to interact seamlessly with the user's data and preferences.

If you are using an AVD pooled multi-user deployment, you must utilize FSLogix to manage the individual user profiles in the pooled environment. FSLogix is an optional component of single-user AVD instances, and although it is not needed, it does offer extra mobility benefits.

6. Storage

Windows 365, which is focused on simplicity of use and setup, offers fully managed storage for a fixed price that is not subject to change. Because of the lack of administrative access to the VMs, backups may be difficult; however, with Microsoft handling the process, it is hoped that this will not be necessary. For AVD, it's all about flexibility when it comes to operating system disks, FSLogix configurations, and the ability to back up storage and virtual machines quickly and simply.

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