Microsoft just blew up the only reason you can't use a Linux desktop

For almost 30 years, the number one reason Windows users have given for not running Linux is they couldn't run their programs on it. Now that Windows 365 Cloud PC is almost here that excuse has just been blown to bits.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft has just announced the release of Windows 365 and Cloud PC. This new service, built on top of Azure Virtual Desktop, enables you to bring their Windows 10 and eventually Windows 11, desktop, apps, tools, data, and settings to your personal and work devices, including Windows PCs (naturally!) but Macs, iPads, Linux, and Android devices as well.

Let me repeat that: Windows 365 will enable you to run your Windows desktop, apps, data, etc., etc. on Linux. That's the Linux desktop they're talking about.

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Ever since I started running Linux back in the early '90s, I've heard over and over again that people couldn't possibly run a Linux desktop because it doesn't run this Windows application or that Windows program. Well, guess what kids, that excuse doesn't hold water anymore. 

Microsoft, yes, Microsoft now promises that you can run Windows on your Linux PC. We don't know exactly how they're going to do that. It might be by using a native Remote Desktop application or by a web browser. I'll bet that on Linux -- and probably on iPads, Macs, and Android devices -- it will be done over a web browser.

After all, the Linux-powered Chrome OS has already shown that you can do most of your enterprise work on just a browser alone. Indeed, Microsoft's entire move to a subscription, cloud service-based desktop was foreshadowed by Google's Chromebooks.

According to Wangui McKelvey, Microsoft 365's General Manager, regardless of your platform, "The Windows experience is consistent, no matter the device." This makes me even more inclined to think that you'll be using Windows 365 via a web browser. And, in particular, Microsoft will encourage you to use Edge on Linux

So, what exactly can you run with Windows 365 "on" your Linux PC? Microsoft promises it will support most of its business application suite -- Microsoft 365, Microsoft Dynamics 365, Microsoft Power Platform -- line. Microsoft also promises app compatibility with Microsoft's Fastrack App Assure. This is a service that will help your business with 150 or more users fix any end-user programs problems at no additional cost. 

Microsoft has also been working with its independent software vendor (ISV) partners. The four biggest who will immediately offer their applications on Windows 365 are Nerdio, NetApp, ServiceNow, and UKG.  In addition,  Accenture/Avanade; Atos; Crayon; Content and Cloud; Convergent; Coretek; DXC; Glueck & Kanja GAB; Insight; and Netrix will bring their programs and services to Windows 365. 

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This isn't just for big businesses. For small and midsize businesses, Iconic IT; MachineLogic; and Nitec Solutions are already supporting Windows 365. 

Of course, there are notable exceptions who aren't on board yet. I'm sure you noticed Adobe and Intuit aren't on the list. Sure, some of their programs, like Adobe Acrobat, will be available on Linux via Windows 365, but big name programs such as Photoshop, Indesign, and QuickBooks have yet to make an appearance. 

Give them time. Microsoft's made it clear. The future for Windows in business is going to be on its Azure cloud. Microsoft doesn't really care that much about Windows on the desktop per se, it's all about getting subscribers to its Windows Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS). Whether you choose to run it on Linux or a Mac, whatever, they're fine with that now.

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