Microsoft lures SMBs to Cloudy PCs by connecting them to Xbox accounts

Windows as a service is getting more mature and manageable

Microsoft has teased a raft of enhancements to its Windows 365 Cloud PCs, among them the chance to use personal accounts to log on to the virtual desktops.

Personal accounts are in play because Microsoft knows some small businesses haven't signed up for Microsoft 365, the software giant’s bundle of productivity software and cloud services.

The company has therefore decided to "provide a simplified sign-up experience to Windows 365" that allows users to "purchase, provision, assign and sign in to Cloud PCs using the Microsoft accounts that you already use today for Outlook email, OneDrive, and Xbox Live."

Which should make Cloud PCs rather more attractive to small businesses and, as the virtual desktops can run in a browser or dedicated client, make BYOD an easier option too.

The post announcing the possibility of using personal accounts also teases integration with remote monitoring and management tools.

"We are working with select RMM partners to enable Windows 365 to be managed alongside physical PCs. We will have lots of exciting updates to share very soon about RMM and other ISV partnerships and product integrations," the post states. One of those integrations will be with Citrix HDX and will mean "licensed employees to access their Windows 365 Cloud PCs in the Citrix environment they use today."

The post also promises a Windows 365 offering for Government Community Cloud (GCC) and Government Community Cloud High (GCC High) organizations – but only in the USA. The new offering "will enable United States Government contractors (and the local, state, and federal customers they support) to securely stream their Windows apps, data, content, and settings from the Microsoft Cloud to any device, any time."

Microsoft also pledged better backup, connectivity checks, and monitoring of cloudy desktops.

Other planned additions include "forensic analysis, which takes a disk snapshot of the Cloud PC to allow for better eDiscovery and disk encryption using Bring Your Own Key."

All of which adds up to a decently broad set of tools to manage Cloud PCs, bringing the concept closer to parity with the options available to those managing physical PCs.

Of course the great irony of all virtual desktops is that they often run on PCs that need to be managed, too. Which means double the fun for admins and double the licenses for Microsoft. ®

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