Skip to main content

Windows 365 cloud OS pricing revealed ahead of August 2 launch

Windows
Windows (Image credit: Microsoft)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft unveiled its cloud OS solution at its Inspire 2021 event.
  • Pricing was not explicitly outlined at the event.
  • Even so, at least one instance of pricing was revealed.

At Microsoft Inspire 2021, the company revealed Windows 365, a cloud operating system service that will allow you to stream Windows 10 or Windows 11 to any device. Be it an iPad, Mac, or Android-powered tablet, you'll be able to have the Windows experience wherever you go with whatever tech you have on hand.

Though audiences were given an idea of Windows 365's functionality, Microsoft didn't detail pricing plans for the service. At least, not initially. Later on, during an Inspire session outlining the signup process for the service, pricing was partially revealed. For the price of $31 per month, you can get 4GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and 2vCPU.

In a statement to The Verge, a Microsoft spokesperson elaborated on the reveal. "This is pricing for just one SKU," they said. "Microsoft will have many more options, both in terms of configurations and price points, to share when the product becomes generally available on August 2nd."

In the same report with the spokesperson's statement, it's mentioned that $31 per month won't be the cheapest configuration, as there will be a weaker Windows 365 experience available offering 2GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, and 1vCPU. Next to these specs, there are scenarios listed that give examples of where the aforementioned Windows 365 plan would be useful. Frontline workers and call centers are listed as two groups that could resort to the weakest plan.

On the flip side, there will also be many more expensive, technologically capable variants of the cloud OS service that go well beyond $31 per month. Pricing for these other configurations remains unclear, though the pricing model above does allow for calculated guesses.

Robert Carnevale is the News Editor for Windows Central. He's a big fan of Kinect (it lives on in his heart), Sonic the Hedgehog, and the legendary intersection of those two titans, Sonic Free Riders. He is the author of Cold War 2395. Have a useful tip? Send it to robert.carnevale@futurenet.com.

35 Comments
  • I'm struggling to conceptualise what hardware you'd run this on. A Chromebook?
  • First paragraph, second sentence might help.
  • (chef's kiss) Perfect.
  • Thank you, fair point had skipped that bit. Nevertheless, the general point is about the use case. With cloud computing and services in the up, why does one need to stream a full(ish) OS?
  • This is for enterprise and school, so it's presumably for deployment on a large number of low cost, low power devices.
  • Plus it offers to the full WinTel catalog of apps: both commercial and *proprietary* line of business. No porting, wannabe clones, or re-coding needed.
    The power of Windows has always lain in legacy apps, "the tyranny of the installed base". 😇
    Win365 lets you finally have thin clients and give up nothing.
  • You could always do thin clients and virtual PCs. We do this at work today. The infrastructure is prohibitive for all but enterprises though. This takes that cost and complexity off the user and puts it on MS. Makes it feasible for SMBs, or schools.
  • Exactly.
    It's what the old NETWORK COMPUTER of the 90's wanted to be but couldn't be. MS is (correctly) aiming this at organizations.
    Individuals have different (fixed) needs and they already have a variety of reasonably priced solutions from stick PCs and microPCs to cheap tablets and laptops to the Surface line. This lowers the *support* costs for the organization which is the big hit to the bottom line, not the acquisition costs. Focusing on acquisition costs misses the value of Win365.
  • You want I should read?
  • Did you say that in the voice of an old man with a Yiddish accent? Because that's perfect. Oy!
  • I think it makes the most sense on phones.
    Imagine a scenario where you need a 'full PC' to run some programs for only 2 months during a project. You have a decent smartphone, very good internet connection, and a proper monitor nearby. Pay $60 for 2 months, dock the phone, stream the OS with installed programs and you are on your way.
    No need to buy a full PC just to get some essential stuff done for a brief period.
    If they provide a 'pay-as-you-go' SKU, I can see this being very useful occasionally.
  • you can already run your phone on pcs, especially if you have samsung phones.
  • Yes. I've even done it. There's a difference between running Android apps on the big screen (though many are surprisingly decent) and being able to use a full desktop application. This is more like what hp was offering with their last windows phone I think.
  • That's backwards. You aren't wanting to run your phone on a Windows box. You want to run a Windows session on your phone (or iPad, or whatever). The idea is you are running Windows on a virtual PC somewhere, and streaming that to your phone. This is much like XBox cloud gaming, where there is a physical XBox somewhere and you stream what it is doing to your phone. The phone can be hooked to a large monitor and you have a BT keyboard and mouse. You could have an i9, 64G RAM workstation configured in the cloud and be running it from your Lumia 950XL. I use that because I've done that with Azure Virtual Desktop. It was like sitting in front of the PC. There are some super use cases for this.
  • Hope there won't be additional charges?
  • It's Microsoft! Never say never. What particular charges are you worried about?
  • Seriously?
    Or course there will be.
    Extra RAM, extra Storage, extra CPUs--on an as-needed basis.
    As in, somebody in an accounting operation signs up for a baseline adequate for year-roubd use, but the end of FY works needs more. So they can get a temporary boost.
    Lots of use cases, lots of added charges. Same as with Azure services.
  • $31 a month for that configuration sounds a bit pricey. But then I think about my students who come to me two weeks into the semester asking if a Chromebook will run Stata (after I explicitly said it wouldn't!). This might be a great solution for them. For the cost of a textbook they can have a real desktop OS on their kiddie device for the length of the semester and complete their assignments. (Won't guarantee a pass, though.) Also, I wonder what high performance tiers might be available. I also wonder if there will be shorter term packages, like 7 days. Sometimes I need power, but usually only for a little bit. The more I think about it, the more promising this all sounds.
  • That's actually a good example I hadn't considered. If you can run Win32 via streamed Windows, then can see the idea. STATA good example. Can imagine similar for R or Graphpad Prism as other examples in my field.
  • Well said, this is a very classic example. People that need proper PCs for a brief period to complete essential tasks. It may turn out to be a hit product.
    Also, when you just need high performance for a very short period if they do offer high performance tiers. It sounds really good because it does provide solution to real needs.
  • To add to the education use case, what happens when your laptop with all your applications, papers and thesis work gets stolen or has beer spilled on it? You go get a new cheap PC or grab your iPad, or phone for that matter, and log back into your cloud PC and move on. All your stuff is safely stored in the cloud, not just what you remembered to back up.
  • Ransomware too. If your local files get hit, your OneDrive versioned backups are still available.
  • Kiddie device? Imagine this running on a cheap iPad, Android tablet or Chromebook with LTE. Less than $50 a month for a decent computer on the cloud with Office 365 or M365 or whatever Microsoft calls it now. You just need the cheapest web browsing device to access it.
  • Do we know (sorry if I missed it) if this also includes some level of the Microsoft 365 subscription, like an Outlook mailbox, 1TB storage, Office, Teams access, etc.? If $31/mo JUST for the virtual windows box, that does seem pricey, but if that includes the cost an E3 license, then it's quite a deal.
  • This is a great question. I would love to know the answer to this as well.
  • Agreed - if this is just for the virtual box (and MS 365 - Office) then this really gets pricey...
  • It is a bit pricey since the os already comes on computers. Sounds more like a cash grab forcing each individual user to cough up their own license in order to use the cloud os. In addition, think of the data Microsoft will be collecting. Cannot wait to see what the EULA and their privacy statement says.
  • More people are moving to mobile only devices. So long as this can be used for a month it's not bad.
  • Way too pricey, as most programs require more than one core / thread. The 2vCPU should have at least been in the region of 3 to 5 dollars a month. That would have sped up adoption drastically as this $31 a month is ontop of the user licenses businesses have to pay monthly.
  • Is this for all those people that buy a Mac only to discover they need Windows to get any work done?
  • Maybe those that bought an M1 iPad Pro and realized that for $2k dollars it does nothing differently from the standard iPad.
  • Sure fits the bill for those who thought the M1 iPad Pro would be the touchscreen MacBook Pro that they will NEVER get from Apple - myself, I'd prefer a solution from Parallels and MS that put WOA directly on the iPad...
  • At $31/month for a low end system, if you compare that to a Surface Go at $399, that breaks even in 12.9 months. I think $31 is a bit high.
  • Over three years that would be about as much as a nice touchscreen laptop with better specs, and it would likely last longer than 3 years. Perhaps a financing plan for a real computer would be more appealing to a regular person.
  • That would be true if *acquisition* were the only cost of PC ownership for organizations.
    It isn't.
    The costs for organizations are different from the costs for users. Maintenance. Security--online and physical. Backup hardware. Data backup. Updates. Individual PC owners do it themselves. (MS does some of it for tbem.) Organization have IT staff (often contracted) to do it for them because it makes no sense to expect their users to do it themselves. Think of LINUX: the OS is free. There are no licensing costs.
    But Red Hat has made tons of money for decades providing LINUX support services.
    *That* is where Win356 saves the organizations money. Once the organizations do their full cost accounting, they'll know how much they might save and they'll decide if and when it makes sense to move to Win365.
    Considering how cautious organizations are about adopting new versions of Windows there won't be a rush to adopt next month. But next year? 2023?
    It'll be a while before we hear of the move to Win365.