Windows 365 presents a unique opportunity for organizations to deliver a Windows environment to a variety of devices.
End users can access a virtual desktop -- or Cloud PC as Microsoft calls it -- from any device with an internet connection with Windows 365. One of the most important benefits of Windows 365 is its ability to get up and running quickly with most of the infrastructure running in the cloud for users of all different device types.
Why run Windows on an iPad?
Windows running on an Apple device may seem like an unlikely pairing, but more businesses are incorporating iPads into their workflows. As such, it may make sense to have access to essential business software on these devices, especially software that may not have a mobile or iPadOS counterpart or requires intranet resources and a Windows environment.
One of the primary advantages of Windows 365 is the versatility it provides to employees who need to work remotely or while on the move. With an iPad, they can access their Windows environment, apps and files from virtually anywhere, making it more convenient for them to remain connected and productive.
Additionally, there are some scenarios where Windows Cloud PC on an iPad could provide value to businesses. For example, if an organization provides iPads to its employees for remote work purposes, in addition to their company Windows laptop, accessing Windows applications enables a consistent and seamless experience while remote and on the go. Organizations that use iPads for client-facing presentations or demonstrations could also benefit from access to a full Windows OS. This technology could provide a broader range of capabilities and flexibility, while maintaining high trust and security of data.
Another advantage is cost savings. Instead of purchasing and maintaining separate devices for each employee, organizations can provide iPads with Windows 365 installed, reducing hardware costs and streamlining device management. An excellent use case for this is employees using their own devices. Instead of purchasing, provisioning, managing and supporting multiple devices for an employee, organizations can allocate a Cloud PC that an employee can use on their own personal or company-managed iPad.
What are the limitations of running Windows on an iPad?
As experienced IT administrators may expect, there are some limitations that come with running Windows 365 on an iPad.
Cost to performance
One of the biggest concerns is the cost-to-performance ratio. While configuring and deploying Windows 365 Cloud PC, organizations can choose the amount of CPU, RAM and storage according to their needs.
However, the higher the performance required, the more expensive the monthly cost. For basic applications, such as Word and other productivity tools, a more essential configuration may suffice for most organizations. But, for those who require a Cloud PC to handle more complex tasks, the monthly costs may accumulate quickly and become untenable.
Cloud PCs come with the drawback of always requiring an internet connection. If a user needs to work in areas with inconsistent Wi-Fi connectivity, this is a bad fit. Organizations could consider buying an iPad with cellular capabilities and adding a cellular carrier plan to keep the device connected. This, however, can add to the organization's budget and overall technology cost.
What do organizations need to deploy Windows 365 on an iPad?
Before setting up Windows 365 on iPad, there are a few things organizations need to ensure are in place, including the following.
- An iPad running iPadOS version 15.0 or higher.
- A stable internet connection.
For optimal performance using Windows 365, a stable and reliable internet connection is required. Some organizations may consider using an iPad with cellular data for the best experience.
Licensing and subscription
Windows 365 is available in four plans with per-user licenses: Business, Enterprise, Frontline and Government. While Microsoft provides a comprehensive guide to its own licensing, a brief summary of the different licenses can provide enough info to get customers started:
- Windows 365 Business. This cloud-only Cloud PC service is a simple way to buy, deploy and manage Cloud PCs, targeted for SMBs. Windows 365 Business does not offer management through Intune. Administrators remotely manage their Windows 365 Business Cloud PCs using the Microsoft 365 admin center or the portal here.
- Windows 365 Enterprise. This edition of Cloud PC is tailored for organizations that require management of their Cloud PCs through Microsoft Intune. It also includes integrations with Microsoft services, including Microsoft Entra ID -- formerly Azure Active Directory -- and Microsoft Defender for Endpoint. To use Windows 365 Enterprise, each user must have a license for either Windows 11 Enterprise or Windows 10 Enterprise, Intune and Microsoft Entra ID P1, and the organization needs a hybrid environment with some on-premises infrastructure.
- Windows 365 Frontline. This iteration is a service that enables organizations to provide Cloud PCs to shift workers or part-time workers who require them for a limited time during their workday. These instances are well suited for limited use cases only requiring a couple basic Windows applications.
- Windows 365 Government. Microsoft made security and defense the top priority for this version of the service. It meets the requirements of numerous United States federal, state, local and tribal agencies.
How to set up Windows 365 on an iPad
To begin the setup process, admins can go here to choose which plan and configurations are best for their organizations.
From there, admins can remotely manage Windows 365 Cloud PCs through the Microsoft 365 admin center or here for the Business plan. They can use Intune with integrations extending to Entra ID and Microsoft Defender for the Enterprise and above plans. Each option supports various remote management actions, configurations, security settings and policy assignments. For Windows 365 Enterprise users, organizations also can upload and use custom images for their Cloud PCs.
Access Windows 365 via Safari
Users can view and access their available Cloud PCs directly in Safari browser by signing into this site using their company credentials. They can then select to run the Cloud PC directly within the browser.
Access Windows 365 via the Microsoft Remote Desktop application
Users can download the Remote Desktop Mobile application from the Apple App Store. Additionally, for devices managed through mobile device management, such as Microsoft Intune, administrators can distribute the Remote Desktop Mobile application as a managed app to streamline application installation and availability.
Once the application is installed, users can follow this process:
- Open the Microsoft Remote Desktop app on your iPad.
- Tap on the Add button in the screen's bottom center.
- Select Add Workspace.
- Enter the Workspace URL supplied by IT, and select Add. Log in with your company. Tap Add to save the settings.
- To connect, tap on the desired desktop, and enter the associated password when prompted.
Another method to deliver Windows systems to an iPad
Organizations that don't want to deploy Windows 365 have another option to facilitate Windows applications and resources on iPads. At Microsoft Ignite 2023, Microsoft announced the launch of Windows App -- a portal from which users can access numerous Microsoft applications, services and even instances of Windows OSes. The app, which is in public preview at the time this publishes, offers a customizable home screen that enables users to access a Windows 365 Cloud PC, Azure Virtual Desktop or Microsoft Dev Box from anywhere. The app also supports multiple monitor and display resolutions and device redirection for peripherals such as webcams, audio devices, store devices and printers.
Michael Goad is a freelance writer and solutions architect with experience handling mobility in an enterprise setting.