Cloud-hosted virtual desktops are nothing new, but Microsoft, as a first party for Windows, hopes to improve competition with Windows 365. Built on Azure Virtual Desktop, the subscription service will be available to businesses from next month.

As the company describes, each user’s personal or work experience can be customized down to the applications, data and settings and streamed to all devices, including those on macOS, iPad, Linux and Android. Startup will be “instant”

; with all of the above fed from corporate servers. Administrators will be able to delegate roles, including licensing and management of hard or cloud devices, to colleagues in the chain of command. Multifactor login authentication is also available.

Businesses will be able to subscribe to Windows 365 from August 2 with an OS base on either Windows 10 or Windows 11 when available. Smaller operations can pay per user per month directly to Microsoft. No specific prices have been mentioned yet, though.

The company highlights Windows 365 as an activator for “Cloud PCs”, which has a successful test deployment across Nunavut’s provincial government in Canada, and announces it as a solution for distribution to interns and contractors in addition to full board.

In terms of first parties, Google has long had a lead on this front with Chrome OS, but with a limited ecosystem of productivity apps on the plate, Chromebooks have generally been more successful in education than in business. On the other hand, Apple can continue to be content that allows third parties such as AWS to offer cloud-based Macs for businesses, and avoids strenuous work with platform search.