What is the Difference Between Windows 365 and Azure Virtual Desktop?

By the end of 2021, there will be three very unique versions of Windows available; Windows 11, Windows 365 and Azure Virtual Desktop (Previously Windows Virtual Desktop). In the past, we’ve had things like Windows Edge IOT for Arm Processors and Windows 10 S, but these will all be full functional desktops and the differences already have people scratching their head.

What is the Difference Between Windows 365 and Azure Virtual Desktop?


Windows 365 Business
Windows 365 EnterpriseAzure Virtual Desktop Single UserAzure Virtual Desktop Multi-User (pooled)
Azure SubscriptionMicrosoft ManagedMicrosoft Managed Except NetworkingCustomer managed
ComputeMicrosoft Managed Fixed cost No admin access to VMsMicrosoft Managed Fixed cost No admin access to VMsCustomer managed Usage based cost Flexible
Control planeAzure Virtual DesktopAzure Virtual DesktopAzure Virtual Desktop
IdentityAzure AD join onlyHybrid AD Join required Azure AD DS Not supportedAD DS required Windows AD or Azure AD DS supported Native Azure AD Join roadmapped
NetworkingMicrosoft Managed Fixed cost No admin access No flexibilityCustomer managed Usage based cost Flexible routing IPs SecurityCustomer managed Usage based cost Flexible routing IPs Security
StorageMicrosoft Managed Fixed cost Not flexible Difficult to backupMicrosoft Managed Fixed cost Not flexible Difficult to backupCustomer Managed OS Disks FSLogix Flexible Easy to Backup
User ProfilesNo FSLogixNo FSLogixFSLogix Optional

The two cloud versions of Windows are going to cause the most confusion. To add to the confusion is there are two versions of each. Windows 365 will come in business and Enterprise versions, and Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD) is available in personal and pooled deployments. Both are based on an Azure Virtual Desktop control plane, but from there the similarities breakdown quickly.

Operating Systems Available on Windows 365 and AVD

Windows 365 can be deployed with Windows 10 or Windows 11 (on launch). Meanwhile, Azure Virtual Desktop supports Windows 10 Enterprise multi-session, Windows 10 Enterprise, Windows 7 Enterprise, Windows Server 2019, Windows Server 2016, and Windows Server 2012 R2.

Microsoft Desktop as a Service (DaaS) subscription models

All of the virtual desktop solutions require Azure Subscriptions, however Windows 365 subscriptions reside fully in Microsoft’s Azure subscription and will be fully managed by Microsoft at fixed costs. Meanwhile, Azure Virtual Desktop is entirely customer managed with flexible consumption based pricing.

Compute

Azure compute for Windows 365 will be 100% Microsoft managed, with a fixed cost and no direct admin access to the underlying Virtual Machines (VMs). In AVD, compute usage is customer managed with consumption based costs and additional flexibility in configuring VMs. AVD is going to remain the place to go if you need a monster video rendering machine with multiple 3090 GPUs and TBs of RAM.

Storage

Again, focused on ease of use and set up, Windows 365 provides fully managed storage with fixed pricing. Lack of admin access to the VMs can make it challenging to back up, but with Microsoft managing it, the hope is that it will not be required. For AVD, it is all about flexibility with OS Disks, FSLogix profiles, the ability to easily back up storage and VMs. 

Networking

Here is where Windows 365 Enterprise splits from business. Enterprise has fully customer-managed networking with flexible routing, IPs and security. Meanwhile Windows 365 Business will remain full Microsoft-managed with no flexibility. For AVD, networking flexibility is a requirement with no Microsoft management provided.

User Profiles

Windows 365 is a single-user managed desktop which will run in Microsoft’s Azure environment. As such, it will have a single user profile and no need for multi-user profile management.

In Azure Virtual Desktop, FSLogix is a profile container that holds user profiles in a Virtual Hard Disk v2(VHDX) file. When the user signs in to AVD FSLogix redirects to the data and settings in the container and the virtual drive is mounted to transparently integrate into the virtual desktop environment. In pooled multi-user AVD deployments FSLogix is mandatory to manage the individual user profiles in the pool. In Single user AVD instances, FSLogix is optional and while it is not required it does provide additional portability. 

User Identity

In Windows 365 business, only AD Join will be available, while in enterprise Hybrid AD Join will be required. There is no AD Domain Services support for either type of Windows 365 Subscription. With Azure Virtual Desktop, AD Domain Services is required and both Windows AD and Azure AD DS is supported. Native Azure AD join is currently on the road map for upcoming release.

Windows 365 Machine Types

While it is said that storage and compute is not flexible in Windows 365, the available selection of VMs is broad enough to meet most needs, ranging from a single CPU with 2gigs of RAM to 8 CPUs and 32 gigs of RAM.

CPURAMStorageSoftwareBusiness PriceEnterprise Price
1vCPU2GB64 GBOffice (Web based), Edge, Lightweight LOB apps$24$20
2vCPU4GB64GBMicrosoft 365 Apps, Microsoft Teams audio-only, Adobe Reader, Edge, Line-of-business apps$32$28
2vCPU4GB128GBMicrosoft 365 Apps, Microsoft Teams audio-only, Adobe Reader, Edge, Line-of-business apps$35$31
2vCPU4GB256GBMicrosoft 365 Apps, Microsoft Teams audio-only, Adobe Reader, Edge, Line-of-business apps$44$40
2vCPU8GB128GBMicrosoft 365 Apps, Microsoft Teams, Adobe Reader, Edge, Line-of-business apps$45$41
2vCPU8GB256GBMicrosoft 365 Apps, Microsoft Teams, Adobe Reader, Edge, Line-of-business apps$54$50
4vCPU16GB128GBMicrosoft 365 Apps, Microsoft Teams, Access, PowerBi, Dynamics 365, Adobe Reader, Edge, Line-of-business apps$70$66
4vCPU16GB256GBMicrosoft 365 Apps, Microsoft Teams, Access, PowerBi, Dynamics 365, Adobe Reader, Edge, Line-of-business apps$7975
4vCPU16GB512GBMicrosoft 365 Apps, Microsoft Teams, Access, PowerBi, Dynamics 365, Adobe Reader, Edge, Line-of-business apps$105$101
4vCPU32GB256GBMicrosoft 365 Apps, Microsoft Teams, Access, PowerBi, Dynamics 365, Adobe Reader, Edge, Visual Studio Code, Line-of-business apps$136$132
4vCPU32GB512GBMicrosoft 365 Apps, Microsoft Teams, Access, PowerBi, Dynamics 365, Adobe Reader, Edge, Visual Studio Code, Line-of-business apps$162$158
8vCPU32GB128GBMicrosoft 365 Apps, Microsoft Teams, Access, PowerBi, Dynamics 365, Adobe Reader, Edge, Visual Studio Code, Line-of-business apps$127$123

Agile IT is a cloud first Microsoft partner with over 15 gold competencies including Windows and Devices, and Cloud Platform. If you want to leverage Desktop as a Service to empower you workforce, schedule a call to find out how to best use Windows 365 and Azure Virtual Desktop to reduce risk, support costs, and downtime while increasing productivity and mobility.