Since we now have successfully set up and provisioned Windows 365 Frontline in our environment, we need to add some additional layers of configuration to make operations as smooth as possible, and especially to make sure that we use the licenses in the best way possible.
With Windows 365 Frontline, each license is reserved as long as the user has the session running. This means that users could potentially have active sessions but are idle which would result in them locking one license.
Since users might forget to end the session, you can configure a policy that will end idle sessions for the end-user.
Create the policy
To create the policy, head over to Intune (https://intune.microsoft.com) and navigate to Devices > Windows > Configuration profiles and select “+ Create profile“.
Select the profile type to be Settings catalog and press Create.
Give your profile a name that makes sense to you and your organisation, I will go with something that follow my name standard for my environment that indicates it’s for Windows 365 Frontline and what the profiles does. When you have given the profile a name, press Next.
Select “+ Add setting” to open the settings picker.
In the settings picker, search for session time limits and select the category for Session Time Limits.
In the settings name section, check the box for “End session when time limits are reached“ and “Set time limit for active but idle Remote Desktop Services sessions“, and your setting will appear in the policy. Once you have selected the setting name, close the fly-out settings picker.
Enable the settings and choose the time limit that matches your needs and corporate policies. In this example I’ve selected 1 hour, which is good value to start with. Once you have enabled these settings, press Next.
Unless you use Scope tags you can skip this section and move right to Assignments where we will deploy this towards all our Windows 365 Frontline devices. I’m doing this by assigning the policy to the built in All devices group and applying a filter I’ve created for Windows 365 Frontline.
The rule syntax you want to use when creating a filter for Windows 365 Frontline machines is at least this one, but it can of course have additional lines depending on your needs:
(device. Model -startsWith "Cloud PC Frontline")
Once you have made the assignments as needed, press Next and then Create.
Your policy will now assigned to all your Windows 365 Frontline Cloud PCs and you can track the progress in Intune by looking at the policy.
Windows 365 Frontline is still in public preview, but you can sign-up for the preview on this link! Since it’s still in preview, there is currently no information on pricing.
When you have gotten yourself licenses it’s time to configure, and since this is Windows 365 you do everything from Microsoft Intune.
One thing that differs the Frontline version from the Enterprise version is how licenses are assigned. For Enterprise you assign a license to a user to provision a Cloud PC, but for Frontline this works differently. You never assign the license to a user, and we will cover what you do instead further down in the post. It’s really clever!
Setting up a frontline Cloud PC
What you will need for this, except for the obvious Microsoft Intune and all its pre-requisites, is of course the Windows 365 Frontline license. This license gives you the right to provision 3 Cloud PCs per license. What you would typically also add to this is a Microsoft 365 F3 or E3/E5 license (or equivalent licensing) to gain all the features needed for managing and working with the digital workplace.
You will also need a few groups (Azure AD groups or synced on-premises AD groups) with the users you are providing with a Cloud PC, this could e.g., be your IT Service Desk team.
Once we have that in place, we can start configuring!
Click on the “+ Create policy” button to create your new Windows 365 Frontline provisioning policy.
On the “General” step, give your profile a good name and make sure to select Frontline as license type. Then select the join type you would like to use, followed by the network settings. For this example, we will user Azure AD join and Microsoft Hosted network, and we will place the Cloud PCs in Sweden Central. When done, click Next.
In the next step, we will select which image we will use. In this case, we will use the default value and just click Next.
In the next step, we will apply a custom naming convention to differentiate these from our regular Cloud PCs, but this is mostly for my own convenience, and you can leave this to default. We will also add these computers to Windows Autopatch since I have that active in my environment. When done, click the Next button.
In the next step, this is where the magic happens. Since you never assign licenses directly to a user you will need to add which groups should get Cloud PCs based on this policy, but also which license these groups should use. You can add multiple groups and have different machine sizes assigned to the separate groups. In this example, since I only have one license type, we will assign the same license to the same groups.
You will also be able to see how many Cloud PCs you have left to assign.
Once you have set up your groups and assigned the licenses to them, click on the Next button to review your settings before creating the policy. If everything is in order, click Create.
Monitor Cloud PC provisioning
Once you have created the provisioning policy and populated the assigned groups, your Windows 365 Frontline Cloud PCs will start to provision, and you can as always track this in the “All Cloud PCs” tab. What I’ve found is that I need to clear any filters applied before I can see the Frontline machines, so if you don’t see them just clear the filter.
Once the Cloud PCs are provisioned, they will get name based on what we set in the naming template part of the provisioning policy and your Windows 365 Frontline Cloud PCs are ready to use!
Connecting to Cloud PC Frontline
As with all other Cloud PCs, there are a few different ways to connect to your Cloud PC Frontline, but the preferred way should always be using the Windows 365 app since this provides the best end-user experience.
Once you sign in the to the Windows 365 application, you will see all your Cloud PCs listed. You will see both your assigned Enterprise and Frontline Cloud PCs. This will look similar in the Windows 365 web portal as well.
As you can see in the picture, the Cloud PC Frontline machines are tagged with the word “Frontline” which provides me as an end-user a great way to differentiate the two different versions from each other. As you can also see, I can have several Cloud PC Frontlines assigned to me based on different profiles.
When you click connect, the initial connection will take a little longer and you will see this ribbon on the Cloud PC.
One the machine has booted; you will get a pop-up telling you to make sure to disconnect when you are done since the disconnection is what makes the license available for other users. The time-out time can also be set with policy on the Cloud PC using Intune.
Once I confirm the connection, my Cloud PC will boot up and my session will start.
From here, things are just as with my regular Cloud PC except that applications will be closed, and the Cloud PC will be turned off when I leave the session which results in that I will need to start my applications again. It is not that different from a physical PC which is turned off.
Remote user actions
In the Windows 365 app, as long as your Cloud PC Frontline is up and running, you can perform remote actions such as restart, troubleshoot or restore. But as soon as it’s powered down, you can only see system information and rename your Cloud PC.