Updated on 20th of April 2023 based on feedback around license assignments.
At Ignite 2022, Microsoft announced that they were working on something they called “Windows 365 for Shift Workers” and a couple of weeks ago this was released in public preview under the name “Windows 365 Frontline” on April 6, 2023.
But what is Windows 365 Frontline and how is that different from the regular Windows 365?
The biggest difference is the license model to be honest. There are technical differences as well for admins, but for the end-user the experience is the same to be honest. Users still get their personal machine, but when the user ends their session, the machine is shut down instead of kept in the state it was left.
But going back to the license, which I think is the most interesting part here. The current setup is that there is a 3:1 ratio on the license, 3 users can be assigned to one license, but you can only use one license/machine at the time. And this is where the confusion begins since it’s positioned to be for shift workers BUT there are no integrations towards any scheduling system for license handling at this point. But this is only the beginning of the frontline user story for Windows 365!
Let’s pretend you have a scenario where your users work shifts to cover the day. The number of shifts you have during the day doesn’t really matter in this sense. What is important is the number of concurrent users you have, you need to make sure that you can cover the number of users who are active at the same time, and the same license can be shared over different departments.
The licens is, like Windows 365 and Microsoft 365 licenses, assigned on a tenant level. Which means; if you have as many licenses as you will have concurrent users you are good to go. You never assign a specific “third” of a license to a user, you don’t even assign the license. You just say that “this group is eligible to use the frontline worker setup” in your provisioning policy, which is a lot different from the Enterprise setup.
This could however of course mean that you have “more” licenses than you need since it might not add up perfectly. But given that you have the license on a tenant level, this means you can share your licenses over several scenarios/teams. But as of right now, this is what it looks like and it’s still in preview.
One important thing with Windows 365 Frontline workers though, we still don’t know what the license cost for this will as of writing this. As GA is set to around June 2023 according to the Microsoft public roadmap, this will be clearer in the coming months.
The second thing around Windows 365 Frontline to remember is that this is not a “Windows 365 version of AVD Multisession”, this is pooled licenses where end-users get their own, personal Cloud PC, not a shared host like multisession. So, the end-users will get a full Cloud PC, it will just not be available for them 24/7 as with the Enterprise version.
In an upcoming blog post, we will dig deeper into how you configure this in your environment, and what the user experience is like!
In the meantime, you can read more about Windows 365 Frontline in the Microsoft release which you can find here.