Microsoft is exploring allowing users to access the entire Windows 11 operating system through cloud streaming. This information comes from presentation documents revealed during the Microsoft and Federal Trade Commission hearings regarding the planned acquisition of Activision Blizzard.
The documents, dating back to June 2022, suggest that Microsoft aims to move Windows 11 increasingly towards the cloud to enhance its AI-powered services and enable a seamless digital experience across devices.
Microsoft's Windows 365 software suite already streams a version of Windows directly to users' devices from their servers. This feature is primarily designed for businesses and allows enterprise software to run on non-PC or mobile devices.
Additionally, in May, Microsoft introduced the Windows 365 Boot in public preview, which enables users to sign in directly to the cloud version of Windows 365, effectively transforming any device into a Windows PC.
While streaming Windows on the business side may be challenging, it represents a significant development for the consumer end. This cloud transition has the potential to integrate artificial intelligence into Microsoft's user-end portfolio.
The company has already embraced generative AI with its "copilot" feature, which is integrated into apps like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. With Windows 11, Microsoft has included the copilot in the taskbar and is expanding the availability of AI apps through the Microsoft Store.
In its presentation, Microsoft also acknowledged the need to respond to the threat posed by Chromebooks by developing more cloud-based PCs. This statement was made several months ago when Chromebooks were gaining popularity as alternatives to traditional PC hardware.
ChromeOS has since improved and introduced new features, making it a viable option, especially for older devices that cannot run the latest versions of Windows or macOS.
While Windows 11 has added noteworthy features like live captions, it remains a more extensive operating system than Google's streamlined ChromeOS. Supporting Windows 11 across various platforms can be challenging due to its larger footprint.
If Microsoft aims to create a user-centric version of Windows for streaming, it should consider starting with a slimmed-down operating system rather than adding watermarks to unsupported PCs.