Windows 365 for remote, hybrid, in-person, or all of the above?

Right now—as in right this very minute—is a fascinating time to be in IT. Yeah we’ve been saying that for almost exactly 2 years now (2nd anniversary of our work-from-home tenure was on Sunday), but this feels different… in spite of there being another big stuck boat.

Workers have been crystal clear in their desire to maintain hybrid working conditions post-pandemic, and while we as a nation are transitioning to a new phase of ‘living with COVID,’ there’s been a strong push to return to pre-pandemic work environments. It was even directly called out in the 2022 State of the Union address.

But a few things changed during the harshest lockdown times that will make that push challenging, and businesses and IT leaders will have to account for these changes in making decisions for workforces.

For one, companies began looking outside their core geographies for talent. This was a dramatic and welcome move that expanded range and reach for access to skilled workers. A company in San Francisco, however, that plans to have people come back to the office, will have to solve for the user they hired in St. Louis. It would be obviously unreasonable to have all remote hires relocate or face termination, and while I have a sneaky suspicion that’s exactly what will happen in many cases, workers have also gotten savvier about advocating for themselves.

Many white-collar workers may have watched the Great Resignation with a sort of disconnected curiosity, but it did expose salary ranges and disparate pay-scales that had some leave the corporate world for suddenly-high(er)-paying blue-collar positions. As a secondary component of this, though, we tracked an uptick in connected firstline workers, and a following curve of IT converting business systems to more flexible and less expensive licensing and delivery models.

That war in Ukraine is also raising domestic costs, not least of which the cost to travel, and more specifically, to commute. Last week gas prices were rising by 10% per day, and while fuel in the US continues to be less expensive than in many places in the world, the effects were immediate and consequential to post-tax income for many workers: not only do they not especially WANT to go to the office, they may not be able to afford to.

Windows 365 came along at almost the exact same time to solve a problem that felt almost custom-tailored to the moment. We’ve seen a huge interest in VDI over the years, and there’s been significant investment in Azure Virtual Desktop since its release in 2019, but as we covered in last month’s webinar, there’s a lot more care and feeding involved than many expected, and a full cost-analysis can yield startling data. Yes it can be streamlined and optimized, but not to the extent where it continues to deliver exceptional UX and still out-perform Windows 365. I have to admit I expected there to be a difference, but I was SHOCKED at how great it was.

And that shock was echoed by some of the initial concerns around the pricing model for Windows 365: “for $41/month I could put a new machine on each user’s desk.” Well, that’s probably true, but one customer reported that their cost to deliver a new physical device to a new user, including shipping to a central office, man-hours to load an image, and shipping to the end-user, totaled over $1000 before factoring in the cost of the actual device. Suddenly a $1K machine is a $2K machine, which would take 4 years at $41/month to break even….assuming you’re not investing in extended warranties on those physical PC’s. The costs add up quickly in a physical world, but they basically don’t exist in Windows 365.

With Windows 365, we can let our hybrid users work in the way that works best for them, keep their costs low, deliver exceptional UX, and help preserve our investments in time, money, and human capital.

Now about that stuck boat…



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