Microsoft has made its Cloud PCs more flexible with a new Windows 365 Frontline option. It also integrates into LG’s 2023 TVs and offers a new Windows 365 experience on Android devices. Windows 365 Frontline offers a new option for frontline, shift and part-time workers. This allows businesses to have more control over how they buy Cloud PC licenses.
Microsoft first put PCs in cloud with Windows 365 almost two years ago. This allowed businesses to access Windows from a web browser. Windows 365 Frontline is available for public preview today. It features virtualized Windows 10 and Windows 11 PCs. However, the key difference is that up to three users can access a machine based upon a single license. This is ideal for businesses with frontline staff who work in shift patterns such as call centers, medical care, or support workers.
In an interview, Wangui McKelvey, general manager of modern work apps at Microsoft, said that shift workers can share licenses rather than paying for individual licenses that are only partially utilized. Windows 365 Frontline Licenses can be shared between countries. This makes them valuable for businesses that have multiple employees.
IT administrators will be able to manage who can access the Cloud PCs, and to prioritize when sessions are closed. In an interview with the Verge, Scott Manchester, director of Windows 365, stated that Frontline provides admins with powerful tools to view usage history and manage usage.
Administrators can either boot workers out or create policies to ensure that they log off if they forget to log out at the end of each shift. Employees will also see a queue when they wait for a Cloud PC. Manchester explains that employees can see that they are in a queue, and can then get connectivity back once the queue has opened. Administrators will be able set up an auto lock screen, reset and wipe all Cloud PCs after a shift. Cloud PCs can be set up to automatically install Windows updates during shifts. This will ensure that no one is rebooted while they are working.
Microsoft is still working to integrate these Cloud PCs into Windows 11. This integration includes Windows 365 boot which will allow Windows 11 devices to log in directly to a Cloud PC instance at startup instead of using the local Windows installation. Windows 365 Switch is the second feature. It integrates Cloud PCs in Windows 11’s Task View (virtual desktops).
These features are currently being tested in private Windows 11 builds. They will be “generally available later this year,” according Manchester. Microsoft is also developing a Windows 365 offline feature, which allows you to work locally even if there are connectivity problems with a Cloud PC. Manchester says that although there are no new updates, they are making progress.
Microsoft is expanding the number devices that can access Windows 365 Cloud Computers. Although anyone can access them via a web browser they are now available to LG’s 2023 smart TVs. To turn your TV into a cloud-powered computer, all you have to do is connect a Bluetooth keyboard or mouse to it. Manchester says that while it is currently only available for 2023 LG models, there are plans to make older LG models “just be able install the native Windows 365 application on the TV.
When will other TVs made by Samsung or others be able to become Windows 365 clients? Manchester says, “You’re likely to see many partners that are interesting in this… You can imagine there are probably a lot more partners that would be interested in a very comparable experience.”
Microsoft also plans to bring an “enhanced Windows 365 Experience” to Android devices such as the Lenovo ThinkPhone from Motorola. McKelvey says that the new integrated experience will enable people to use their ThinkPhone to plug and play Windows 365 connectivity. This automatically configures their Cloud PC to be used on an external screen.
This sounds very similar to Microsoft’s Windows Phone Continuum feature, which turned a phone into a computer but connected to a Cloud PC via an external monitor. This integration, given the number of businesses that offer hot desks that only have a monitor and a keyboard/mouse, would allow you to use your phone to work instead of carrying a laptop.
Microsoft has also made its Windows 365 app available on the Microsoft Store. This app allows direct connectivity to Cloud PCs, and can be used to reboot and troubleshoot them.