Microsoft’s plan to migrate Windows to the cloud is gaining momentum, particularly in the commercial sector with the introduction of Windows 365. However, the tech giant also aims to extend this transition to consumers. An internal presentation by Microsoft in June 2022, which has come to light during the ongoing FTC v. Microsoft hearing, outlines the company’s strategy of leveraging Windows 365 to deliver a complete Windows operating system streamed from the cloud to any device.
The presentation sheds light on Microsoft’s overall gaming strategy and its integration with other aspects of the company’s business. Moving Windows 11 to the cloud is identified as a long-term opportunity in Microsoft’s consumer-focused “Modern Life” domain, which involves harnessing the power of cloud and client technologies to provide enhanced AI-driven services and enable seamless access to users’ digital experiences.
Windows 365, a service that streams the full version of Windows to devices, has thus far been limited to commercial customers. However, Microsoft has been deeply integrating it into Windows 11. In a future update, Windows 365 Boot will enable Windows 11 devices to directly log into a Cloud PC instance at boot instead of using the local version of Windows. Additionally, Windows 365 Switch, integrated into Windows 11, will incorporate Cloud PCs into the Task View (virtual desktops) feature.
The concept of fully transitioning Windows to the cloud for consumers is accompanied by Microsoft’s intention to invest in custom silicon partnerships. The company has already engaged in such partnerships for its ARM-powered Surface Pro X devices. Bloomberg reported in late 2020 that Microsoft was exploring the design of its own ARM-based processors for servers and possibly for Surface devices as well. More recent reports suggest that Microsoft might be developing its own AI chips.
Another slide in the presentation highlights the importance of reinforcing the commercial value of Windows and responding to the threat posed by Chromebooks in Microsoft’s “Modern Work” priorities for the 2022 fiscal year. In this context, growing the utilization of cloud PCs with Windows 365 is seen as a long-term opportunity.
Microsoft’s recent announcement of Windows Copilot, an AI-powered assistant for Windows 11, aligns with the company’s broader AI-driven approach. Windows Copilot sits alongside Windows 11, summarizing and rewriting content from apps and providing explanations. The feature is currently undergoing internal testing and is expected to be released to testers in June before being rolled out to a wider audience of Windows 11 users.
Windows Copilot is part of Microsoft’s wider push to incorporate AI capabilities into Windows. The company is collaborating with AMD and Intel to enable more Windows features on next-generation CPUs. Intel and Microsoft have even hinted at the possibility of a Windows 12 release in recent months. At CES earlier this year, Windows chief Panos Panay stated that “AI is going to reinvent how you do everything on Windows.” All these initiatives reflect Microsoft’s overarching ambition, outlined in the internal presentation, to deliver improved AI-powered services through the Windows platform.