Microsoft shuts down Windows 365 free trials after significant demand

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Microsoft has ended the free trial programme for its cloud-based operating system Windows 365 just a couple of days after launching the service due to a surge in demand.

The Windows developer made its Cloud PC platform generally available on Monday, with users able to opt for either the Business or Enterprise editions at a per user, per month cost. Pricing packages vary based on the hardware configuration and the number of users from £17 to £134.60 per user per month.

Microsoft had also made free trials available for three signature Windows 365 hardware configurations; basic, standard, and premium. These trials comprised one user license available for two months, with existing Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365) customers able to access these through the admin centre.

The firm, however, has shut down its free trials only a matter of days after launch due to a surge in demand, with Microsoft reaching capacity for these trials. It means Microsoft likely didn’t anticipate how much demand there would be among businesses to sample its Cloud PC service so soon after launch.

The firm launched Windows 365 as a means to access virtual endpoints remotely on local machines, without the need to invest in virtual desktop infrastructure or recruit specific skills.

This cloud-based service streams the “full Windows experience” based either on Windows 10 or Windows 11 - when it launches in 2022 - beaming apps, data, and settings to any device registered with Microsoft Cloud.

The Business edition is aimed at businesses with fewer than 300 users and is billed as the no-frills, plug-and-play version of Windows 365. The Enterprise edition, aimed at larger organisations and enterprises, demands that IT admins adhere to stricter requirements, including an Azure subscription, although it also offers more tools in addition to streaming the operating system.

Users who still wish to register for a free trial of Windows 365 are now being asked to either register to receive a notification when the programme resumes, or simply buy active licenses for either Windows 365 Business or Windows 365 Enterprise.

For the handful of users who managed to secure a free trial before the programme was shut down, their subscription will convert to a paid subscription automatically with the number of machines they had specified. This paid-for monthly subscription can also be cancelled through the Microsoft 365 admin centre prior to the end of the trial period.

All trial data, service configuration, and tenant information will remain unchanged when converting. If users choose to not convert to a paid subscription, trial data will be deleted.

Keumars Afifi-Sabet

Keumars Afifi-Sabet is a writer and editor that specialises in public sector, cyber security, and cloud computing. He first joined ITPro as a staff writer in April 2018 and eventually became its Features Editor. Although a regular contributor to other tech sites in the past, these days you will find Keumars on LiveScience, where he runs its Technology section.