Microsoft previewed several new features for Windows 365 Cloud PCs, the subscription-based service that streams the operating system from the cloud over an internet connection.
Users will be able to log directly into a Windows 365 Cloud PC when they boot up their machines, and toggle between a local Windows PC and a Cloud PC in a manner similar to switching between desktops currently. They’ll also be able to use Cloud PCs offline, with automatic syncing when a connection is restored.
“The boundaries between your PC and the cloud are fading away,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in an online presentation Tuesday morning. “We’re removing limits to your devices and the limits on how and where you work.”
Introduced last year, Windows 365 streams the Microsoft operating system to any device, including Mac, iPad, Linux, and Android. It’s targeted business customers, with monthly prices ranging from $31 to $66 per user.
It’s part of a broader effort to keep Windows relevant in the era of cloud services. Microsoft has seen big growth in parts of its business that shifted earlier to the cloud and subscription-based pricing, including Office 365 and the Azure cloud platform. Growth in the Windows division has lagged Microsoft’s cloud services.
Microsoft also announced a series of Windows security, accessibility and IT management features, including the ability for companies to send custom “organizational messages” to users on their desktops, lockscreens or above the taskbar on Windows 11 computers.
It remains to be seen how employees will react to the concept. The idea is “to share helpful messages to new employees onboarding or reminders for important training that might otherwise get lost in email,” explained Wangui McKelvey, Microsoft 365 general manager, in a post about the new feature.
Panos Panay, Microsoft chief product officer, gives a full rundown of the new Windows features in this post.
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