Microsoft DaaS: Comparing Azure Virtual Desktop and Windows 365

Microsoft DaaS: Comparing Azure Virtual Desktop and Windows 365

Imagine what your modern workplace might look like with virtual desktops: Your employees work from the same desktop across different devices whether they are at home, in the office or even travelling. They have access to all your software and data 24/7 using any internet-connected device.

Think of it as a similar exercise to streaming movies on demand. Now, we often access movies via the internet, rather than on DVDs. Virtual desktops are a similar concept. You can stream your desktop from any device, on demand.

Microsoft offers two key Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) solutions, Windows 365 and Azure Virtual Desktop. The key question I am sure you are asking is: Which Microsoft DaaS solution is better for my business?

What sets the Microsoft DaaS solutions apart?

Azure Virtual Desktop

Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD), formerly Windows Virtual Desktop, is a Microsoft DaaS solution that provides your employees with a desktop hosted in the cloud. Azure hosts your Windows 10 or 11 desktops and provides your team with access to them from anywhere.

People can access AVD on the device of their choice and receive the same experience they would on a local desktop. If some employees prefer their local desktop but still need access to specific business apps, AVD can deliver them.

AVD offers the robust security available in Azure, including Azure Active Directory for conditional access and multi-factor authentication. So, you can trust that your organisational resources are safe on the cloud.

AVD allows your IT provider complete control over deployment and management via the Azure portal. As such, it is a flexible option that a managed IT services provider can tailor to meet your business’ needs. Despite the breadth of its management capabilities, AVD only takes mere minutes to deploy and scale.

Windows 365

The second Microsoft DaaS solution, Windows 365, was announced in July of 2021 in response to the new, hybrid world of work. Windows 365 is a virtual desktop that allows people to access the Windows 10 or 11 Operating Systems (OS) from any internet-connected device, whether it is a laptop or a tablet.

Windows 365 leverages your device’s keyboard, mouse or trackpad, microphone and camera, like a local OS. You use your device like you usually would, but you stream the OS and your apps from a server.

While Azure hosts Windows 365 in the cloud, this Microsoft DaaS solution does not offer the same flexibility and customisation as AVD. That is why I recommend AVD to businesses that desire flexibility from their Microsoft DaaS solution.

What to consider when choosing a Microsoft DaaS solution

Flexible deployment

Before selecting a Microsoft DaaS solution, you need to consider the flexibility of deployment. Windows 365 makes setting up and removing devices simple. But, it is built for simplicity first and does not offer the flexibility of AVD.

AVD offers virtual machines with a range of specifications. Some employees only use their desktops for editing documents, checking their email, and collaborating; these people will only need a desktop with minimal power. On the other hand, you might have employees, such as video editors, that require high-performance computing; AVD has powerful options for them as well.

The size of your business

I recommend considering the number of people in your business before settling on a Microsoft DaaS solution.

Windows 365 creates personalised virtual desktops for individuals and allows them to become administrators of their cloud PC, much like they would on a local desktop. Windows 365 is not limited to the number of virtual desktops available, but it might not be suitable for large businesses where the number of employees fluctuates month to month. Windows 365 better suits companies with less than ten employees.

AVD offers a generous number of virtual desktops, making it easier to manage multiple employees across a large enterprise. AVD allows you to deliver pooled desktops to host multiple people on one virtual desktop, which can also be helpful for workforces that fluctuate in size. If you are a large enterprise where the number of employees at any given time might change, then AVD might be the Microsoft DaaS solution for you, especially in terms of cost-effectiveness.

Cost-effectiveness

Selecting the right Microsoft DaaS pricing model primarily relies on the number of desktops you require.

Windows 365 offers predictable, monthly per-user pricing. If you are a small business and only need desktops for a small number of people that consistently access them, then Windows 365 could be the more cost-effective option for you. Per-user-per-month pricing may be costly to larger organisations where employees do not consistently access their desktops.

Pricing for AVD varies depending on the Azure resources you use up; you can save or spend more money when you need it, but this approach requires you or your IT provider to monitor usage closely. Pooled desktops also enable you to deliver one desktop to several people at once, which can also help you reduce costs compared to Windows 365. 

AVD charges you based on the number of people accessing desktops at one time, not the total number of people you have on the books, so it is often cheaper when managed well.

Finally, you can leverage AVD with any existing Microsoft 365 or Windows licences you already have, which can further drive down your costs.

Application streaming

Perhaps you have some people that prefer their local desktop to a Microsoft DaaS solution. That is all okay, but what if they encounter issues with one of their business-critical apps?

AVD allows people to stream single applications rather than the entire desktop, while Windows 365 does not. If this is a requirement you envisage needing for your employees, then you will need AVD. AVD includes Windows 10 or 11 multi-session desktops, which allows multiple people to stream the same desktop.

Windows 365 does not offer any of these features at the time of writing this blog.

Wyntec can manage your Microsoft DaaS solution

Have you considered taking your desktops to the cloud? Wyntec can help you get there. Though we are a managed provider, our goal is to become the IT function within your business. We work with non-IT people every day and can help you find the right Microsoft DaaS solution by talking about the business outcomes, not the technicalities.
Visit our Infrastructure and Platforms page for more on our Managed Services in this arena.

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