A Windows 365 desktop shown in the Microsoft Edge browser.

What if you could use a Windows desktop PC without actually running Windows on your hardware? Microsoft has a solution for you: Windows 365, a cloud-based Windows desktop you can access from any device, including Macs, iPads, Chromebooks, Android phones, and Linux PCs.

To use a Windows 365 “Cloud PC” after the service launches on August 2, 2021, you just need a device with a modern web browser. Your Windows desktop in the cloud retains its current state even when you disconnect. If you’re editing an Excel spreadsheet and switch from a Mac to an iPad, for example, you’ll instantly see the desktop state right as you left it when you reconnect so you can get right back to work. It’s just like waking a PC from sleep mode.

The benefit is clear: You can run Windows applications without running Windows on your hardware. This means access to a full Windows 10 desktop on Macs, iPads, Chromebooks, and more—just as long as you have an internet connection. (When Windows 11 launches, you’ll be able to access a Windows 11 desktop in the same way.)

At launch, Windows 365 will only be available to businesses, and it will have a per-user monthly subscription cost. Microsoft offers a variety of different hardware configurations at different price points, all hosted on Azure, Microsoft’s cloud computing service. Businesses will be able to easily spin up cloud PCs, manage them, and control access.

At launch, single-person businesses are eligible. It’s not just for large corporations with thousands of employees—and it’s easy to imagine Microsoft offering the service to consumers in the future, too.

Other services already offer cloud-based desktop PCs you can access in a browser for everything from gaming to productivity, but now Microsoft is offering its own solution.

For more details on Windows 365, check out Microsoft’s Windows 365 Cloud PC website or read the company’s announcement.

Just don’t confuse Windows 365 with Microsoft 365, a subscription service that is essentially a rebranded version of Office 365 with a few more features.

RELATED: What Is Microsoft 365?

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Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times and Reader's Digest, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than one billion times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
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