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Can users run Windows 365 on Android and iOS?

While laptops and PCs are the most common business endpoints to access desktops from, some users might benefit from delivering desktops to mobile endpoints such as iOS and Android.

Organizations that want to maximize the potential of mobile endpoints can deliver a variety of cloud-based productivity services from vendors such as Microsoft.

In the past organizations deployed mobile versions of productivity applications, but the Windows 365 cloud service presents a new option: Delivering a virtual desktop -- or Cloud PC -- to mobile devices. Mobile devices don't have the same interface and input commands available that full desktops do with a keyboard and mouse, but it can still be worth the challenge to deploy these systems because some users need access to the full desktop versions of the productivity apps at all times.

Running Windows on non-Windows and mobile endpoints has been possible through virtualization technologies such as VDI for some time, but this often requires specific IT expertise, significant infrastructure, and high upfront costs. Windows 365 allows organizations to bypass much of the complexity associated with this approach by deploying a technology that can run smoothly on mobile platforms such as iOS and Android.

Why should organizations deploy Windows 365?

Organizations of all sizes can benefit from deploying Windows 365 for their employees. Here are just a few reasons why:

Running Windows on non-Windows endpoints has been possible through virtualization technologies such as VDI for some time, but this often requires specific IT expertise, significant infrastructure, and high upfront costs.
  • Device flexibility. With Windows 365, employees can access their work desktops from many devices, including laptops, tablets, and smartphones. This allows for increased productivity and the ability to work on the go.
  • Secure and centralized management. Administrators can manage Windows 365 through the Microsoft 365 admin center or for organizations on the Business license. Additionally, for organizations that have Windows 365 Enterprise licenses, admins can manage devices through Microsoft Intune, making it easy for IT teams to manage and secure employee devices centrally.
  • Enhanced security. With all data stored in the cloud, Windows 365 provides an added layer of security against device theft or loss. It also eliminates the need for employees to store sensitive data locally on their personal devices.
  • Cost-effective. Moving to a virtual desktop environment can help organizations save on hardware costs by opting for less expensive client devices -- such as mobile devices -- or extending the lifecycle of current ones, which in turn reduces maintenance expenses. This can particularly benefit small businesses or those with a large remote workforce.
  • Scalability. Windows 365 allows organizations to easily add or remove users as needed, making it ideal for businesses with fluctuating staffing needs.

How to run Windows 365 on mobile endpoints

There are different approaches to running Windows 365 on a mobile endpoint, depending on the platform and device.

A chart that explains the different pricing and licensing models for Windows 365.

Run Windows 365 on Android

Microsoft introduced a feature of Windows 365 called the Enhanced Windows 365 App Experience, which allows users to stream their Windows 365 Cloud PC to Android devices. Most users will want to run this streamed Cloud PC while connecting their Android device to an external monitor. This setup provides access to all files, settings, and apps on the phone while allowing users to navigate using their keyboard, mouse, or even the phone's touchscreen. With these new features, users can also multitask, take phone calls, participate in Teams video chats and respond to messages.

Previously, users could access Microsoft Remote Desktops via the Samsung Dex, or access Windows 365 via a browser to achieve a similar desktop experience. However, the Cloud PC is the simplest approach to providing any sort of desktop to Android users.

Run Windows 365 on iOS

There are multiple ways to access Windows 365 but Microsoft unveiled a new method to access Windows 365 -- Windows App. This application -- currently in preview for iOS, macOS, and web users -- provides a customizable home screen and serves as a gateway to a Windows 365 Cloud PC, Azure Virtual Desktop, or Microsoft Dev Box from anywhere. The app also supports multiple monitor and display resolutions and can redirect peripherals such as webcams, audio, store devices, and printers.

Michael Goad is a freelance writer and solutions architect with experience handling mobility in an enterprise setting.

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