Just after the summer, Microsoft announced that Windows 365 Switch was available for public preview. And to be honest, this is probably my favorite feature so far, and makes using the Cloud PC a lot easier!
Back at Microsoft Ignite in 2022, the product team announced three major features coming to Windows 365:
- Windows 365 Boot
- Windows 365 Switch
- Windows 365 in offline mode
Back in May, Windows 365 Boot was available as public preview and since the beginning of August, Windows 365 Switch is also available to start testing!
Today, to use Windows 365 Switch, there are some pre-requisites:
- Windows 11 Insider (Dev or Beta is supported) on you local PC and your Cloud PC
- The Windows 365 app
- Windows 365 licenses
You of course also need provisioning policies and so on to be able to provision your Cloud PC, if you want to learn how that is done you can check out this post.
Setting up Windows Insider
There are different ways to enable Windows Insider on you device depending on how your setup is. You can do it directly from the Settings app under Windows Update, but I will show you how to configure this through Microsoft Intune, since this is probably the more common scenario to onboard devices in to Windows Insider in a larger environment.
What you need to do is to create a update policy for the Windows Insider program releases in Microsoft Intune to enable this feature. You can of course also update your current policies to allow Insider builds.
Go to Microsoft Intune and navigate to the Device section and find Update rings for Windows 10 and later. Create a new profile by clicking “+ Create profile“.
Give your new profile a name and click next.
Configure the profile to match your needs when it comes to the generic settings, in this example I will leave it to default. The important setting is “Enabled pre-release builds“. Enable that and select either the Beta or Dev channel (both are supported for Windows 365 Switch).
Add a group of devices you want to include for the Windows Insider Dev channel. Make sure to include both the local PC and the Cloud PC in this group. Click Next.
Review your settings and create the policy by pressing Create.
Note: You can also update any of your existing policies to allow pre-release builds. What I’ve done in my lab environment is to allow this in my test ring in Windows Autopatch and move any machine I want to enable this on into the test-ring.
Opting in for Windows Insider builds
The updates are not automatically enforced on the client, it enables the user to opt in to the program, the user needs a Windows Insider Program account. You can read all about it here: Getting started with the Windows Insider Program (microsoft.com).
Easiest way to get started is to search the start menu for Windows Insider and open the “Windows Insider Programme settings”. This has to be done on both the local PC and the Cloud PC to opt in to Windows Insider.
First time user opens the settings blade, they will need to press the “Get started” button inorder to link an account to the Windows Insider program.
When the account has been linked, user will see what channel they have been added to. Since we are managing this setting from Intune, all the alternatives has been grayed out and the “Dev Channel” is selected, since that is the one we configured.
One you have opted in for Windows Insider builds, head over to Windows Update and run the update. You will see Windows Insider build as an update which will start to download.
IMPORTANT: Perform these steps on both your local PC and your Cloud PC.
The Windows 365 app
The next step is to make sure that we have the Windows 365 app installed on our local machine. This can be done either by deploying it from Microsoft Intune or downloading it from the store.
Easier way is to simply download it from the store.
Once you have installed the Windows 365 app, the wait begins. Things needs to be configured and happen in the background. This normally takes a few hours, so don’t give up if its not there right away!
Once Windows 365 Switch has been configured for you, you will get a new option on your Cloud PC called “Add to taks view”.
When you select this, you will see a ribbon on the Cloud PC you selected this on that it has been added to the task view.
Now when you open the Task View, from either the task bar or win + tab, you will see your Cloud PC as a desktop.
When you select the Cloud PC for the first time, the connection will be setup and you will have to wait while it’s connecting.
Once this initial connection has been done, you will be able to switch back and forth as this would have been just another desktop from within your Cloud PC.