A Complete Guide to Windows 365 Boot

WME Article - A Complete Guide to Windows 365 Boot

Windows 365 Boot is your gateway to a more seamless and efficient virtual desktop experience. Discover how this innovative feature can streamline sign-ins and empowers shared PC scenarios.

Say goodbye to the traditional sign-in process as users directly access their Cloud PCs. Let’s dive into the world of Windows 365 Boot, unlocking productivity like never before.

 

What is Windows 365 Boot?

Windows 365 Boot is a feature designed for shared PC scenarios, introduced in Windows 365 and available during its public preview phase. With Windows 365 Boot, administrators can configure Windows 11 physical devices so that users can directly sign in to their Windows 365 Cloud PC without having to sign in to the physical device itself. This streamlined sign-in process allows users to access their Cloud PC more quickly and efficiently, making it ideal for scenarios where multiple users share the same physical device.

 

Key features and benefits of Windows 365 Boot

Direct Sign-In to Cloud PC:

When a user turns on their physical device and signs in, Windows 365 Boot automatically signs them in directly to their Cloud PC, bypassing the need to sign into the physical device.

This is particularly useful for shared PC scenarios where multiple users use the same physical device to access their individual Cloud PCs.

Multiple Users on Shared Devices:

It allows multiple users to use the same physical device to sign in to their respective PCs. Each user’s unique identity takes them to their assigned and secure Cloud PC. This flexibility is ideal for scenarios where workers, such as those in nursing, sales, or call centers, frequently switch between physical tasks and computer interaction.

Shift Change Support:

Users can easily sign out from their Cloud PC on the physical device, allowing the next shift worker to use the same physical device to sign in. When a user signs out, the physical device returns to the Windows 11 login screen, ready for the next user.

Device Access Restrictions:

The 365 Boot physical devices are intended to let users interact with their Cloud PCs without having the ability to interact with the physical device itself.

Admins can set specific configuration service provider (CSP) policies to restrict end-user access to certain resources on the physical device.

During the preview, these policies are not automatically set, so administrators must review and configure them based on their organization’s security needs.

User Sign-In Authentication:

Windows 365 Boot supports username/password-based authentication for users sign-ins. However, Windows Hello for Business, convenience PIN, and FIDO key authentication modes are not supported.

 

How to Set Up Windows 365 Boot

 

Requirements for Windows 365 Boot:

To use Windows 365 Boot, you will need the following:

  • A Windows 11 Pro physical device
  • A Cloud PC license
  • Microsoft Intune

There are two ways to deploy Windows 365 Boot:

  • Guided setup in Intune: This is the easiest way to deploy Windows 365 Boot. You can use the Intune guided setup to create a policy that will automatically configure your devices for Windows 365 Boot.
  • Manual configuration: You can also manually configure your devices for Windows 365 Boot. This process is more complex, but it gives you more flexibility.

Here’s a complete process overview:

Guided setup in Intune

To configure the physical device, consult the guided scenario in the Microsoft Intune admin center. The guided scenario helps admins set up Windows 365 Boot, define autopilot device name templates, and configure Windows update settings, VPN and Wi-Fi profiles, and language settings. It also allows for group assignments to identify which physical devices are set up for Windows 365 Boot.

To deploy Windows 365 Boot using the Intune guided setup, you will need to:

    1. Create a new Intune policy.
    2. In the policy, select the “Windows 365 Boot” profile.
    3. Configure the settings in the profile.
    4. Assign the policy to your devices.

Optionally, use some configuration profiles and restrict user access to Windows 365 Boot physical devices.

Manual configuration

To deploy Windows 365 Boot manually, you will need to:

    1. Install the Windows 365 Boot agent on your devices.
    2. Configure the agent with your Cloud PC settings.
    3. Restart your devices.

Once configured, multiple users can access their dedicated Cloud PCs from the same Windows 365 Boot physical device.

The Boot Process

When you boot your device, the Windows 365 Boot process will start. This process will first check to see if you have a Cloud PC license. If you do, it will then connect to the cloud and download the VM. Once the VM is downloaded, it will start running your Windows 365 Cloud PC.

Connecting to your Cloud PC

Once your Cloud PC is running, you will be able to connect to it using the Windows 11 login screen. You will need to enter your username and password, and then you will be able to start using your Cloud PC.

Authentication Modes in Windows 365 Boot:

Windows 365 Boot currently supports username/password-based authentication for user sign-ins to their Cloud PC.

NOTE: it does not support Windows Hello for Business, convenience PIN, or FIDO key authentication modes.

 

How to Troubleshoot Windows 365 Boot

Usually, issues arise with setups or management of the Windows 365 Boot devices. But you can troubleshoot them.

Some common troubleshooting steps include:

  • Checking the device configurations,
  • Verifying the versions of required apps,
  • (If necessary) removing and re-adding Windows 365 Boot from the physical device.

That said, if you need even more help, you can collect and provide relevant logs and session IDs to finally expedite support from Microsoft.

Windows 365 Boot is still in the public preview

Remember: The public preview continues as of July 27, 2023, and more information and updates may be available in the future. If you are an admin and interested in deploying Windows 365 Boot should refer to the official Microsoft documentation for detailed guidance and the latest information.

 

How Does Windows 365 Boot Work

Windows 365 Boot works by creating a virtual machine (VM) in the cloud. This VM is then linked to your physical device, so that when you boot your device, it will automatically connect to the VM. The VM will then run your Windows 365 Cloud PC, which is always up and running in the cloud.

Expedited Sign-In:

When a user turns on their physical device and signs in, Windows 365 Boot automatically signs them in directly to their assigned Windows 365 Cloud PC, not to the physical device.

This means users can skip the traditional sign-in process on the physical device and quickly access their Cloud PC environment.

Seamless User Identity:

Windows 365 Boot enables multiple users to share the same physical device and sign in to their own individual Cloud PCs. Each user’s unique identity ensures that they are directed to their assigned and secure Cloud PC.

This flexibility makes Windows 365 Boot particularly useful for workers who share company physical devices, such as those in nursing, sales, call centers, or similar scenarios.

Users can easily switch between physical tasks and their Cloud PCs, efficiently picking up from where they left off.

Transition and User Handoff:

Users can sign out from their Cloud PC on the physical device, allowing for a smooth transition between shifts or users.

When the next worker signs in, they can use the same physical device to sign in to their Cloud PC, and the device will be ready for their use.

Restricting Physical Device Access:

Windows 365 Boot physical devices are configured to let users interact solely with their Cloud PCs, without granting access to the physical device.

To achieve this, admins must set specific configuration service provider (CSP) policies. However, during the preview phase, these policies are not automatically applied, so administrators should review and configure them according to their organization’s security needs.

 

Who is Windows 365 Boot for?

Windows 365 Boot suits anyone who needs a secure and always-on way to access their applications and data.

This includes:

  • Remote workers: Remote workers can stay productive by gaining access to their work from anywhere.
  • IT professionals: IT professionals can use Windows 365 Boot to provide secure access to applications and data to employees and customers.
  • Schools & universities: Such institutions can use Windows 365 Boot to provide students with access to their coursework from anywhere.

 

Limitations of Windows 365 Boot:

It’s important to note that Windows 365 Boot is in the preview phase. Only further updates and improvements may address its limitations.

Here are some existing limitations:

 

Limited Authentication Modes:

Windows 365 Boot currently supports only username/password-based authentication for signing-in purposes. Other authentication methods such as Windows Hello for Business, convenience PIN, and FIDO key authentication modes are not supported currently.

Configuration Service Provider (CSP) Policies:

Windows 365 Boot physical devices are supposed to let users interact with their Cloud PCs without the ability to access the physical device itself.

To achieve this goal, specific CSP policies must be set. However, during the preview phase, these policies are not automatically set to fully restrict end users from accessing certain resources on the physical device.

Admins need to review and apply the appropriate configuration policies to meet their organization’s security needs for preventing access to the physical device.

Limited Device Compatibility:

Windows 365 Boot is currently designed for shared Windows 11 Pro physical devices. Each physical device must be running Windows 11 Enterprise or Professional to be eligible for Windows 365 Boot configuration.

Initial Preview Phase:

As the 365 Boot is in public preview, there might be limitations or additional features being developed or refined based on user feedback and testing.

Admins should be aware that the service may evolve over time, and they should monitor updates and changes from Microsoft during the preview phase.

Limited Support for Advanced Features:

During the public preview, some advanced features related to patch management and automation might require configuration outside the guided scenario provided for Windows 365 Boot.

Administrators should consider additional configurations to ensure comprehensive patch management and other advanced functionalities.

 

Windows 365 Boot vs. Remote Desktop Services: A Comprehensive Comparison

As businesses are increasingly relying on virtual desktop solutions to enhance efficiency, security, and flexibility for their remote workforce. Two popular options offered by Microsoft are Windows 365 and Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD).

When choosing between Windows 365 and Azure Virtual Desktop, you should consider your unique needs, IT resources, scalability requirements, and compliance considerations.

Here is a quick overview:

“ Windows 365 is an excellent option for quick and standardized deployments, while AVD provides more control and customization capabilities, making it suitable for larger organizations seeking long-term virtual desktop solutions. ”

Let’s delve into the key differences and features further…

Windows 365

Windows 365 is part of the Microsoft 365 family which means there is limited customization available, and custom apps cannot be installed on the platform. So, It is ideal for scenarios where quick deployment and standardization are prioritized.

Exclusive Advantages of Windows 365:

  • Fast and easy deployment for remote or temporary employees.
  • No need for extensive customization or IT management as Microsoft handles settings and security.
  • Well-suited for small businesses with limited IT resources.
  • Excellent for scenarios where standardization is essential and rapid setup is required.

Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD):

AVD, on the other hand, provides more flexibility and fewer limitations compared to Windows 365.

As a cloud-based virtual desktop solution, AVD allows businesses to fully manage their environments, including the ability to install custom applications and connect with other on-premises devices and servers.

This makes it a more suitable option for enterprises and larger businesses that require greater control over their virtual environments and have well-resourced IT departments.

Exclusive Advantages of AVD:

  • Full environment management, allowing for custom applications and deeper control.
  • More flexibility in user assignments, making it a better long-term option for employees.
  • Ideal for enterprises with larger teams and well-resourced IT departments.
  • Scalable and suitable for businesses poised for growth.

Combining Windows 365 and Azure Virtual Desktop?

It’s worth noting that Windows 365 and AVD are not mutually exclusive…

You can find use cases for each solution and leverage both as needed.

For example, they might use AVD for their full-time workforce while providing Windows 365 to interns, part-time employees, or overseas staff.

How to Choose Your Virtual Desktops? What are the Factors?

  • Business Size: Small businesses with limited IT resources may find Windows 365 more suitable due to its managed nature, while larger enterprises may prefer AVD for its customization capabilities.
  • Scalability: AVD offers better scalability for businesses with larger teams or those expecting rapid growth.
  • Compliance: Industries with strict compliance and regulatory standards may require the customization options provided by AVD to maintain compliance.

 

Wrapping it Up:

No doubt, Windows 365 Boot opens up new possibilities for streamlined sign-in experiences and enhanced productivity in shared PC scenarios.

With its direct sign-in to Cloud PCs and support for multiple users on shared devices, it offers a seamless transition between shifts and tasks. While Windows 365 Boot is in the public preview phase and comes with some limitations, it presents a promising solution for remote workers, IT professionals, schools, and universities.

For businesses seeking expert assistance in harnessing the full potential of Microsoft 365 services, look no further than WME. As a leading provider of professional Microsoft 365 services, WME offers tailored solutions to optimize your virtual desktops, enhance security, and streamline workflows. Unlock the true power of Windows 365 Boot and other Microsoft 365 features with our dedicated team of experts.

Learn more about our services and take your organization’s productivity to new heights with WME today!

 

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