Microsoft’s Windows 365 vs. Azure Virtual Desktop: What’s the Difference?

Updated: Aug 21

On 14 July 2021, Microsoft unveiled Windows 365, a service that lets employees stream their Windows screen from the Microsoft cloud to any device, making it easier to collaborate with one another. By letting companies give workers access to a Windows 10 desktop from the cloud, the software allows colleagues to screen share their apps, data, content, device settings and storage. 

Windows 365

Credit: Petri

The tech giant announced that Windows 365 will exclusively be made available to business users on 2 August 2021.


Though Microsoft already has Azure Virtual Desktop — another service that lets businesses control a Windows PC through the cloud — Windows 365 appears to be more user-friendly than the older app. For one, it is easier to navigate and saves you the complicated process of setting up an Azure Virtual Desktop system in the Azure cloud.


Even Microsoft said that Windows 365 prioritises simplicity, while Azure focuses on flexibility.

Aside from that, there are plenty of differences between the two Microsoft services. 


According to Bas van Kaam, Nerdio Field Chief Technology Officer for Europe, Middle East and Africa, Windows 365 will cater to enterprise and business users. On the other hand, Azure allows people to create personal and pooled accounts.


Both Windows 365 and Azure offer a Windows 10 personalised desktop mode, but only the latter can configure multi-session desktops. In terms of control, Azure provides more options with Citrix and VMware integration. These software protect the way you remotely access computer programmes essential for hybrid work. Meanwhile, “familiar desktop tools” will be accessible to Windows 365 users.


How much money you spend will depend on the platform you choose. Windows 365 will have a subscription system with predictive pricing, while Azure follows consumption-based pricing or a “pay-as-you-go” setup. Simply put, you pay for the data and storage you use in Azure. Nothing more, nothing less. 


Intune will also affect your experience with either of the Microsoft apps. As Van Kaam included in his “cheat sheet” tweet about Windows 365 and Azure, the former will require Enterprise users to have Intune. Meanwhile, Azure does not require people to download the mobile management tool. 


Microsoft Intune is a cloud-based service that lets users determine how their organisation’s devices such as mobile phones, tablets and computers can be used. It even lets them implement rules controlling the functionality of certain apps like email.

Written by Sophia Lopez