The big picture: Like many other major software companies, Microsoft is primarily focused on transitioning paying customers from “perpetual” sales to boost cloud subscriptions, and Windows 365 Boot seems to be a crucial component of this cloud-centric future.
Windows 365 Boot was introduced earlier this year as a new option to transform local Windows PCs into dumb terminals for accessing a remote Windows 365 Cloud PC virtualized image. Instead of utilizing the classic (and free) local user account feature, companies could opt for a pricey monthly subscription to provide secure, remote access to custom Windows 365 installations on a shared PC.
Now, Redmond is taking the Windows 365 Cloud PC concept even further with a new feature designed to almost completely bypass the local Windows installation. With the newly released Preview Build 23601 for Windows 11 insiders, this new “Dedicated mode” for Windows 365 Boot allows users to boot directly into their virtual Windows 365 cloud PC from their “designated company-owned device.”
Workers will be able to seamlessly log in to Windows 365 from the Windows 11 (local) login screen, Microsoft said, using password-less authentication methods like Windows Hello for Business if the option is provided. The new Dedicated mode also comes with a more personalized login experience, featuring a “fast account switcher” feature, a custom picture showing on the lock and login screens, and more.
Dedicated mode for Windows 365 Boot will initially be available for Windows 365 customers through a “private preview” at the beginning of next year, Microsoft said. Companies will have the opportunity to further customize the new mode with their logo and name using Intune, we are told.
Preview Build 23601 also introduces a new “fail-fast” mechanism for Windows 365 Boot, featuring smart logic that proactively alerts users to resolve network issues or complete app setup before reaching the login screen. Windows 365 Boot now provides easier access to local PC settings, enabling users to manage sound, display, and other device-specific options directly from their Cloud PC.
The latest Windows Insider build is not exclusively focused on Windows 365 Boot. It also includes new features and improvements for Windows 365 Switch, offering an easier way to switch between local and cloud PCs. Fixes and improvements are also available for Copilot in Windows, Windows Share, Nearby Sharing, Windows apps like Notepad, and more.