There is no doubt that Windows 365 is gaining popularity and Microsoft has nailed it on the head with the release of Windows 365 Frontline Cloud PCs. This helps organizations who have a mobile workforce or work in shifts around the clock or has staff working in different timezone to save on the licensing costs of having a Cloud PC and at the same time deliver a quality experience for all the users.
What is the difference between Windows 365 Enterprise and Frontline?
This is a valid question as both options provide a Windows 11 cloud PC, which can be accessed from anywhere. The big financial gain for organizations is that they can save money on licenses for staff who work in different time zones or shift.
Think of the scenario where you have 150 helpdesk team members working in three 8 hour shifts with 50 staff in each shift. If you were to go down the route of Windows 365 enterprise license, you have to buy 150 licenses. With the new Frontline license, each license can be consumed by three staff. But the catch is that only one staff can use the license at any given time.
Simply put, you only need to buy 50 licenses in the above scenario as there will only be 50 helpdesk staff online at any given time. Each user will have a personalized Cloud PC and they will be powered off once the user signs out, thereby releasing the license.
The machines are powered off automatically when the user signs out and powered on when a new user tries to use their cloud PC (claiming the license of the signed out user). The next shift will be able to login to their cloud PC as 50 licenses will be available for them by the time they turn up.
You can manage these Frontline Cloud PCs using Intune, just like you manage any other Windows 11 machine. WIth this in mind, let us have a look at how to deploy a Windows 365 Frontline Cloud PC using Intune.
What is required?
There are two steps that needs to be completed to deploy an Azure AD joined Windows 365 Frontline Cloud PC. We will be using the Microsoft hosted network for this article.
- Windows 365 Frontline license (self explanatory).
- Configuring a provisioning policy.
Let’s go through the steps of deploying a Frontline Cloud PC using the provisioning policy.
Create a Windows 365 Provisioning Policy
Provisioning policy defines the configurations for creating a Frontline cloud PC and we need one to deploy our Windows 365 Frontline AAD joined machine.
Launch the Intune portal & navigate to Devices -> Windows 365.
Click on the Provisioning Policies tab and click Create Policy.
Give a name for the policy, select Azure AD Join as the join type & Microsoft hosted network as the network. Pick the geography and region details. Make sure to enable Use Single Sign-On which is in preview. This will remove the prompt on the VM level once the Azure AD authentication is completed.
Pick the gallery or custom image depending on your needs.
I will stick to the defaults in the configuration page. You can get Microsoft AutoPatch to update your machine, but it needs to be setup first. You can also setup a naming convention for the cloud PCs. I am using the pattern CLOUDPC-%RAND:5%, which will give the computer name CLOUDPC-<random five numbers or alphabets>.
I have already created a security group named ‘Windows 365 Frontline Users’ with my test user in it and I am assigning this provisioning policy to that group. You cannot add user accounts directly at the time of writing. You need to select a Cloud PC size as well, depending on your needs.
Double check the selections and hit the create button to setup the provisioning policy.
Click on the ‘provisioning policies’ tab and you will notice that the policy has been listed.
How to login to Windows 365 Cloud PC
The user with the license can login to the Windows 365 PC from anywhere using the browser.
Head over to the Windows 365 portal and login using the Azure AD credentials.
Once you have logged into the portal, the user will see the Windows 365 Frontline Cloud PC and be able to login to the machine.
Educate the frontline users to sign out of the machine at the end of their working hours. This will release the license and saves all their settings ready for the next day.
Please let me know if you have any questions in the comments section.