Apple @ Work: How Apple could offer macOS in the cloud to follow Microsoft’s Windows 365

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From the early days of the iPad, many people have had the desire to go “iPad only.” Our friends at MacStories have chronicled a plethora of resources related to only using the iPad. What if you can use an iPad the majority of the time, but need a desktop occasionally? Microsoft recently made news by offering a new hosted version of windows. 9to5Mac did a hands-on demo of it using iPad and Magic Keyboard. I also spent time on it and came away impressed. Is this something businesses could implement using iPad? If so, why couldn’t Apple offer a macOS in the cloud subscription?

About Apple @ Work: Bradley Chambers has been managing an enterprise IT network since 2009. Through his experience deploying and managing firewalls, switches, a mobile device management system, enterprise-grade Wi-Fi, 100s of Macs, and 100s of iPads, Bradley will highlight ways in which Apple IT managers deploy Apple devices, build networks to support them, train users, stories from the trenches of IT management, and ways Apple could improve its products for IT departments.

Let’s run through the potential use cases for a business creating a device deployment strategy of iPad Pro 12.9″, Magic Keyboard, and Windows 365.

iPad Pro with Windows 365

From an IT side, the iPad Pro with a Magic Keyboard is an extremely reliable device hardware and software perspective. It’s fast, easy to use, and iPadOS gets more powerful by the year. For employees who travel a lot, it’s easy to slide in a bag, jump on a plane, and get back to work when you’re back on a reliable connection. It’s a dream device if you do a lot of presentations on location with customers as well. iPad Pro is also incredibly easy to support from an IT perspective. In my experience, way fewer things go wrong on iPadOS than they do on macOS.

What if you occasionally need access to software that’s only available on the desktop or a desktop-class web browser? That’s where a remote access solution would come into play – such as if your organization used Microsoft 365 and opted into a Windows 365 add-on for employees who needed it. It has a tight integration with Azure Active Directory, so it’s easy to log in, get to work on a full desktop, and disconnect when done.

A business could manage their iPads using any of Apple’s mobile device management partners, install the Microsoft Remote Desktop app, and then employees could have access to a full desktop that’s secure and easy to manage. One of the aspects I’ve found interesting in my testing is how easy it is to “reset” your instance of Windows. Since it’s tightly integrated into Azure AD, setting it back up is easy. It also comes preinstalled with all of the Office apps as well.

Why not iPad Pro with macOS in the Cloud?

After spending some time with Windows 365, it’s clear that it’s a usable solution. Why isn’t Apple offering a macOS in the cloud solution that could be tied in with an Apple Business Manager subscription service? It would be a way to drive services revenue from enterprises and K–12 organizations that want to go iPad only, but have the backup option of connecting to a Mac when needed.

In the absence of a solution from Apple, other companies are stepping up. MacStadium has been a favorite solution for prosumers and enterprises alike for remote macOS hosting. Teradici recently unveiled its new high-performance remote access technology for macOS as well. One thing is clear: There is a demand for reliable access to a remote Mac.

Wrap-up on remote Macs

Using a remote desktop on a full-time basis is not at the place where it feels completely local. Will that change over time? I firmly believe that. We’re already at a place where so much of our computing happens at a remote level. We may end up on “streaming” operating systems in the future. In the meantime, I’d love to see Apple offer a macOS in the cloud subscription solution for businesses and schools wanting a remote macOS option. It would help drive iPad adoption while also driving services revenue. Those are two things Apple is certainly interested in long term.

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