The debate about whether to migrate to a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) took on a new dimension when Microsoft introduced Windows 365 Cloud PC. What is the difference between Windows 365 Cloud PC and the traditional VDI offering from Microsoft, AVD – Azure Virtual Desktop (previously known as Windows Virtual Desktop)?

By understanding the differences between both solutions, you will be in a better position to choose the best option for your organisation.

Windows 365 Cloud PC and AVD In Summary

Both Windows 365 Cloud PC and AVD use similar underlying cloud technologies on the Microsoft Azure platform. The main differences come in how they are packaged and presented as commercial products:

  • Windows 365 Cloud PC is a fully managed, fixed-priced, turnkey desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) solution.
  • AVD is also a DaaS solution, but it is customer-managed with variable pricing and extensive customisation capabilities.

We can now go into detail to explain the differences further.

Managed or Unmanaged

There are lots of technical variations between the two products that will be covered later in this blog, but much of it boils down to the question of a managed or unmanaged solution.

Windows 365 Cloud PC is fully managed. As a result, minimal IT skills are required to deploy and maintain Cloud PC virtual machines as Microsoft takes on this work as part of your monthly subscription. Full management covers everything from performance to security to availability.

AVD, on the other hand, is unmanaged. Therefore, all the things that Microsoft manages with Cloud PC instead have to be managed by your internal IT team.


Pricing for Cloud PC is based on a fixed-price license per user per month. This means you pay the same price for a Cloud PC virtual machine regardless of how often it is in use. So, the license for a machine that is used for 300 hours a month is the same as a machine used for 30 hours a month.

AVD uses a pay-as-you-go pricing model, so there are no charges when machines are not in use.

When analysing the cost of each option, you have to look further than Microsoft’s charges. With Cloud PC, you are paying for the management service in addition to the technical VDI resources, whereas with AVD, you are only paying for the technical resources.

Therefore, the allocation of your internal IT resources comes into the equation when considering Cloud PC versus AVD, i.e., if Cloud PC is more costly than a similar AVD solution, will those costs be offset through a more efficient use of your internal IT team? For example, with Cloud PC, instead of managing VDI, your IT resources could be working on other, more value-adding IT projects and tasks.

One final point to highlight on pricing is the fact there are two licensing options on Cloud PC:

  • Business has a 300-user limit, and it is fully managed by Microsoft
  • Enterprise has no user limit, and it offers some network management capabilities


Windows 365 Cloud PC has been designed by Microsoft to be as simple as possible. It is essentially a turnkey, persistent VDI solution. AVD is more complex, so specialist internal IT skills are required in a number of different areas.


Windows 365 Cloud PC has been designed by Microsoft to meet the needs of the majority of users in the majority of enterprises. The downside is there is no flexibility in compute, storage, or other elements.

AVD provides you with significant levels of flexibility. For example, the flexibility offered by AVD includes the ability to serve both persistent and non-persistent desktops, the latter of which allows multiple users to access a virtual machine. IT administrators can also set their own storage types, network routers, security settings, etc.

Compute, Storage, and Networking

With Cloud PC, compute and storage are both fully Microsoft-managed. On the plus side, this eliminates headaches. On the downside, there is no flexibility.

There is a little bit more flexibility in terms of networking for Enterprise Cloud PC customers, but networking is fully managed for Business customers.

With AVD, all three – compute, storage, and networking – are managed by your internal IT team. This means no Microsoft management is available, but your internal IT team will have large-scale flexibility to set up, configure, and adapt the VDI to match your organisation’s requirements.

User Profiles

On Windows 365 Cloud PC, multi-user profile management is not needed (and is not available) as each virtual machine has a single user profile. With AVD, user profiles are managed by your internal IT team using FSLogix in pooled multi-user deployments, with FSLogix being optional in single-user AVD instances.


Which Should You Choose – Cloud PC or AVD?

The choice between Cloud PC or AVD depends on the requirements of your organisation. Also, it doesn’t have to be a binary choice. For example, you could have thousands of users that fit perfectly into the Cloud PC category. For other users, AVD might be more suitable. An example would be users who need virtual machines with massive computing capabilities, such as VMs that will be used for video rendering.

To summarise:

  • Windows 365 Cloud PC is fully managed, so is simple to implement and easy to scale with minimal internal IT resources or skills.
  • AVD is highly flexible and customisable, so gives you greater control with a pay-as-you-go pricing model.

Whichever option you choose, our Access Capture and Access Symphony tools are ideally suited to help manage and automate your VDI migration, whether you are going from physical desktops to Cloud PC virtual machines, or physical desktops to AVD virtual machines. Contact us today to find out more.

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