Should I use Azure Virtual Desktop or Windows 365?

This is a very good question and the answer is of course: “it depends!” All use case scenarios are different and you really need to evaluate them against your specific goals.

Azure Virtual Desktop

A fully manageable Azure service that uses Azure resources. You can configure everything! When using Azure resources you can also add, change and combine the service with other Azure services. If you for example need backup, just add an azure backup service.

Windows 365

This is a packaged product. You simply buy a license for a CloudPC, and get a CloudPC! But you will have lots of configuration and features in this services as well.

Compare

Recently Microsoft published “Comparing Azure Virtual Desktop and Windows 365“. This is a good resource for finding out the differences between the services:

FeatureAzure Virtual Desktop (single-session)Azure Virtual Desktop (multisession)Windows 365 EnterpriseWindows 365 Business
DesignDesigned to be flexible.Designed to be flexible.Designed to be simple and easy to use.Designed to be simple and easy to use.
Type of desktopPersonal desktopPooled (single and multi-session) desktopPersonal desktopPersonal desktop
Pricing modelBased on your own resource usageBased on your own resource usageFixed per-user pricing (Windows 365 pricing)Fixed per-user pricing (Windows 365 pricing)
SubscriptionCustomer-managedCustomer-managedMicrosoft-managed (except networking)Fully Microsoft-managed
VM stock-keeping units (SKUs)Any Azure virtual machine (VM) including graphics processing unit (GPU)-enabled SKUsAny Azure VM including GPU-enabled SKUsMultiple optimized options for a range of use casesMultiple optimized options for a range of use cases
BackupAzure backup servicesAzure backup servicesLocal redundant storage for disaster recoveryLocal redundant storage for disaster recovery
NetworkingCustomer-managedMicrosoft-managedCustomer-managedMicrosoft-managed
IdentityDomain join with Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) or Azure AD DS, Hybrid Azure AD join, or Azure AD joinDomain join with AD DS or Azure AD DS, Hybrid Azure AD join, or Azure AD joinHybrid Join, Azure AD joinAzure AD join (can’t use AD DS)
User profilesAzure Files, Azure NetApp Files, or VM-based storage for FSLogix for pooled host pools, and an option for local profiles for personal desktopsAzure Files, Azure NetApp Files, VM-based storage for FSLogix for pooled host pools, and an option for local profiles for personal desktopsLocal profiles, offered as software-as-a-service (SaaS)Local profiles (offered as SaaS)
Operating systemsWindows 10 Enterprise and Windows 11 Enterprise (single session and multi-session)
Windows Server 2012 R2, 2016, 2019 (single session and multi-session)
Windows 7 Enterprise (single session)
Windows 10 Enterprise and Windows 11 Enterprise (single session and multi-session)
Windows Server 2012 R2, 2016, 2019 (single session and multi-session)
Windows 7 Enterprise (single session)
Windows 10 Enterprise and Windows 11 Enterprise (single session)Windows 10 Enterprise and Windows 11 Enterprise (single session)
Base imageCustom and Microsoft-providedCustom and Microsoft-providedCustom and Microsoft-providedMicrosoft-provided only
VM locationAny Azure regionAny Azure regionMost geographiesMost geographies
Remote app streamingSupportedSupportedNot supportedNot supported

To Pool or not to Pool? If you need a Pool of cloudPC´s, for example a few CloudPC´s to be used by many users. Then the only option is to use AVD. Windows 365 is only Personal CloudPC´s

Managed Profiles? If you need profile management, AVD is the way to go!

Windows 7 or Windows Server? Windows 365 only support Windows 10/11. Any other OS needs AVD.

Do you need a GPU for graphic intense solution? Here AVD is really awesome. But it will cost you!

FeatureAzure Virtual Desktop (single-session)Azure Virtual Desktop (multisession)Windows 365 EnterpriseWindows 365 Business
Hybrid (on-premises) or multi-cloud supportSupported with Azure Stack HCI (public preview), Citrix, and VMwareSupported with Azure Stack HCI (public preview), Citrix, and VMwareUnavailableUnavailable
On-premises connectionSupported by ExpressRoute, VPN, Azure Gateway, and SD-WANSupported by ExpressRoute, VPN, Azure Gateway, and SD-WANSupported by ExpressRoute, VPN, Azure Gateway, and SD-WANSupported by ExpressRoute, VPN, Azure Gateway, and SD-WAN
Management portalAzure portal (deploy and manage), Microsoft Endpoint Manager (manage only)Azure portal (deploy and manage), Microsoft Endpoint Manager (manage only)Microsoft Endpoint ManagerEnd-user portal
Image managementCustom images and Microsoft-managed image managementCustom images and Microsoft-managed image managementCustom images and Microsoft-managed image managementMicrosoft-managed image management only
Screen capture protectionYes (feature currently in preview)Yes (feature currently in preview)Yes (feature currently in preview)Yes (feature currently in preview)
Updating and patching processSimilar to physical PCSimilar to physical PCSimilar to physical PCSimilar to physical PC
AutoscalingN/ASupported with the Autoscaling tool (preview)N/AN/A
Application deliveryMicrosoft Endpoint Manager, MSIX app attach, custom images, or Microsoft-approved partner solutionsMicrosoft Endpoint Manager, MSIX app attach, custom images, or Microsoft-approved partner solutionsSame as physical PCSame as physical PC
MonitoringAzure Virtual Desktop Insights, powered by Azure MonitorAzure Virtual Desktop Insights, powered by Azure MonitorSimilar to physical PCSimilar to physical PC
Environment validationRequired URL check toolRequired URL check toolOffered as SaaSOffered as SaaS
App lifecycle managementMEM, SCCM, MSI, EXE, MSIX, App-V, and others with MSIX app attach or partner solutionsMEM, SCCM, MSI, EXE, MSIX, App-V, and others with MSIX app attach or partner solutionsSame as physical PC (MEM, SSCM, MSI, EXE, MSIX, App-V, and so on)Same as physical PC (MEM, SSCM, MSI, EXE, MSIX, App-V, and so on)

Need a solution running in Azure stack? Only available in AVD.

Cost and performance optimization with autoscaling? Not possible in Windows 365. One license cost per cloudPC.

MSIX app attach? only AVD has this phenomenal feature.

FeatureAzure Virtual Desktop (single-session)Azure Virtual Desktop (multisession)Windows 365 EnterpriseWindows 365 Business
ClientWindows, Mac, iOS, Android, HTML, Linux SDKWindows, Mac, iOS, Android, HTML, Linux SDKWindows, Mac, iOS, Android, HTML, Linux SDKWindows, Mac, iOS, Android, HTML, Linux SDK
PrintingUniversal Print and print redirection support, network printersUniversal Print and print redirection support, network printersUniversal print and print redirection supportUniversal print and print redirection support
ProtocolRemote Desktop Protocol (RDP)RDPRDPRDP
End-user portal capabilitiesIT uses the Azure portal to manage deploymentsIT uses the Azure portal to manage deploymentsUser sign in, start VM, troubleshooting, restart, rename and profile reset, VM and disk resizing, OS choiceUser sign in, start VM, troubleshooting, restart, rename and profile reset, VM and disk resizing, OS choice
FeatureAzure Virtual Desktop (single-session)Azure Virtual Desktop (multisession)Windows 365 EnterpriseWindows 365 Business
ClientWindows, Mac, iOS, Android, HTML, Linux SDKWindows, Mac, iOS, Android, HTML, Linux SDKWindows, Mac, iOS, Android, HTML, Linux SDKWindows, Mac, iOS, Android, HTML, Linux SDK
PrintingUniversal Print and print redirection support, network printersUniversal Print and print redirection support, network printersUniversal print and print redirection supportUniversal print and print redirection support
ProtocolRemote Desktop Protocol (RDP)RDPRDPRDP
End-user portal capabilitiesIT uses the Azure portal to manage deploymentsIT uses the Azure portal to manage deploymentsUser sign in, start VM, troubleshooting, restart, rename and profile reset, VM and disk resizing, OS choiceUser sign in, start VM, troubleshooting, restart, rename and profile reset, VM and disk resizing, OS choice
FeatureAzure Virtual Desktop (single-session)Azure Virtual Desktop (multisession)Windows 365 EnterpriseWindows 365 Business
ClientWindows, Mac, iOS, Android, HTML, Linux SDKWindows, Mac, iOS, Android, HTML, Linux SDKWindows, Mac, iOS, Android, HTML, Linux SDKWindows, Mac, iOS, Android, HTML, Linux SDK

End-user portal capabilities? Windows 365 has right now the best looking user portal with lots of features. AVD is quite limited.

FeatureAzure Virtual Desktop (single-session)Azure Virtual Desktop (multisession)Windows 365 EnterpriseWindows 365 Business
License costsUse existing internal license (internal users only) or use monthly per-user access pricing (for commercial remote app streaming to external users only)Use existing internal license (internal users only) or use monthly per-user access pricing (for commercial remote app streaming to external users only)Monthly per-user pricingMonthly per-user pricing
Infrastructure costsBased on consumptionBased on consumptionIncluded except for egress charges over base quotaIncluded
Microsoft Endpoint ManagerOptionalOptionalRequiredOptional

Cost and performance optimization with autoscaling? Not possible in Windows 365. One license cost per cloudPC.

Most my customers end up using AVD. at the moment, AVD is much more flexible solution that can be optimised for the particular use case, cost optimized and performance optimized.

Mr T-bone

Torbjörn Tbone Granheden is a Solution Architect for Modern Workplace at Coligo AB. Certified in most microsoft technologies and over 20 years as Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT)

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