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Azure Virtual Desktop Vs. Windows 365: Deciphering Microsoft’s Virtual Desktop Solutions

Weighing cost, flexibility, and ease-of-setup between Azure Virtual Desktop and Windows 365 for your business

Key Takeaways:

  • Windows 365 (W365) offers a simpler setup and management process than Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD), making it appealing for small to medium-sized businesses with basic needs.
  • Azure Virtual Desktop offers more flexibility and a wider range of capabilities, making it suitable for businesses with specific or advanced requirements.
  • Both solutions have similar costs when considering average use-cases, so decision making should focus more on organizational needs than price.
  • While W365 requires a fixed, per-user, per-month cost, AVD charges based on Azure consumption, including the size of Virtual Machines (VMs) and usage duration.
  • AVD requires an existing Active Directory for domain-joining session hosts, while W365 Enterprise requires Active Directory with Hybrid Azure AD join-enabled.

What are Windows 365 and Azure Virtual Desktop?

Windows 365 (W365) and Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD) are Microsoft’s offerings in the virtual desktop space. Both solutions are rooted in providing remote access to desktop environments, but each differs in its design philosophy and target audience.

W365 operates on a simple, streamlined model. It’s built on the AVD infrastructure but offers a more user-friendly setup and management experience. It’s ideal for businesses with straightforward virtual desktop needs.

In contrast, AVD is built for robustness and flexibility. It offers a comprehensive range of features and options, allowing for tailored solutions that can accommodate complex requirements.

Understanding the Cost of Windows 365 and Azure Virtual Desktop

The cost of W365 is a fixed, per-user, per-month fee, while AVD operates on a pay-as-you-go model, charging based on Azure consumption. This includes the size of your VMs and the duration they’re active.

A comparison of costs between the two options reveals that, depending on your usage, they can be quite similar. For businesses that require only occasional use of virtual desktops during business hours, AVD can be a more cost-effective option since VMs can be shut down when not in use.

On the other hand, if you need around-the-clock availability for your virtual desktops, the costs of W365 and AVD can be comparable. The best choice, in this case, depends on your specific requirements and existing infrastructure.

Which One Is Right for Your Business?

The choice between W365 and AVD hinges on your business requirements and current environment.

W365 Business: Ideal for small to medium businesses without on-premise infrastructure or applications. It offers a simple and straightforward setup, giving users local admin rights by default. However, it is limited to 300 users and currently lacks dedicated graphics processors.

Azure Virtual Desktop: Offers a broader range of features and greater flexibility. AVD can cater to a diverse array of requirements, from remote app publishing to selecting the ideal VM families for your needs. However, it requires an existing Active Directory setup for domain-joining session hosts.

W365 Enterprise: This option requires an Active Directory with Hybrid Azure AD join-enabled and uses Intune for Cloud PC management. If your business already uses Intune for device management, this could be an appealing choice.

Setting Up Windows 365 and Azure Virtual Desktop

Setting up W365 Business involves simply purchasing a license and assigning it to a user. Managing W365 Cloud PCs centrally with Intune can be done with the help of various guides available online.

Setting up W365 Enterprise requires following step-by-step instructions available from Microsoft Tech Community. These Cloud PCs will be Hybrid Azure AD joined.

In contrast, AVD requires more intricate setup steps, including having Active Directory for domain-joining session hosts. Businesses should carefully consider their in-house IT capabilities or consult with an Azure specialist when contemplating AVD.

In summary, while both W365 and AVD offer compelling virtual desktop solutions, the decision should be based on your business requirements and existing infrastructure rather than cost alone. An understanding of each platform’s strengths, limitations, and cost implications will allow you to make an informed decision that best suits your organization’s needs.

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