It feels strange to say it, but it’s true: there’s an app simply called “Windows.” It’s available for early testing on Mac, iOS and iPad, web, Windows and eventually Android, and is made by Microsoft. The fact that it exists, with such a strong and simple name, says something bigger than the fairly basic app it is now.
“Windows App,” as Microsoft calls it in a rare bit of minimalism, is essentially a convenient remote desktop connection to a Windows operating system on a physical system, an Azure virtual desktop, a Dev Box, or elsewhere. There are some other tricks you can perform, such as using your local device’s webcam, speakers, and printer connections with your remote Windows system. But you can easily read a “Windows app” for multiple platforms, including web browsers in general, as the next step in Microsoft’s slow march to turning a virtual Windows operating system into something that seems useful to everyone, whether whether it is a business or personal account.
Currently, you need a work or school account with Microsoft to use most features beyond a traditional remote desktop connection. To use a remote desktop connection, the Windows instance you are connecting to must be on a Pro edition, as Home does not have the ability to host a remote desktop connection. Of course, there are many ways to connect to a remote PC from almost any device, including RealVNC and others.
As noted by The Verge, Windows’ potential as a cloud-hosted PC not only for businesses but also for individuals was outlined in the FTC v. Microsoft hearings, which stem from Microsoft’s now completed attempt to acquire game publisher Activision-Blizzard-King. Under “Long-term Opportunities for Reinvigoration” in a slide in a consumer-oriented “Modern Life” presentation it reads “Moving Windows 11 More and more to the Cloud.” By expanding the OS streaming Windows 365 service to non-business desktops, Microsoft aims to “leverage the power of the cloud and the client to enable enhanced AI-powered services” while providing “full roaming of the digital experience of people” offer. The Verge also notes that while the Windows app is currently business/educational only, the login language indicates that Microsoft is already working on a version for personal accounts.
It’s also worth noting that the browser version of the Windows app specifically supports Chrome and Chrome OS. Rather, Microsoft’s attempts to cut off Google’s share of Google’s K-12 market had to do with the ill-fated “S” series and other hardware maneuvers. With a sleek, officially supported Windows remote streaming tool that has some bi-directional powers, the company hopes to answer the perennially popular but unsolved “Windows on Chromebook” query.
List image from Microsoft