Image: Nate Ralph/CNET

Microsoft might kick off its own cloud-based Windows desktop-as-a-service product within the next few months.

SEE: Windows 10 ebook: Streamline your work with these power tips (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

On Tuesday, ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley shared information from sources that the software giant is targeting June or July 2021 for the launch of its new virtual Windows 10 service. Microsoft’s Inspire partner conference is scheduled for mid-July this year, so the company might unveil its Cloud PC offering at the same time so that partners will be able to push the service, Foley said.

Hosted on Azure, the Cloud PC product will let users run Windows 10 and Office 365 in a remote, virtual, online environment using their own devices as thin clients. Microsoft already offers a Windows Virtual Desktop service, also hosted via Azure. But this service is priced based on consumption whereas the Cloud PC service would charge each user a flat rate.

The service would come at a time when more organizations are moving toward cloud-based apps and services. Cloud PC could help businesses cut hardware costs and reduce support overhead by eliminating the need for a full-blown, on-premises Windows PC for every employee. The cloud-based versions of Windows 10 also would include the latest features, fixes and updates, thereby addressing security concerns with on-site PCs that aren’t always fully updated.

Foley pointed to info leaked last year suggesting that Microsoft would offer different Cloud PC subscription plans, initially dubbed Medium, Heavy and Advanced, each equipped with different amounts of CPU power, memory and storage. A recent but no longer accessible job posting on Microsoft’s Careers website served up further details on the upcoming service, according to Foley:

“(The Cloud PC service) allows all users to be productive from anywhere, on any device with a cloud-powered, secure, and always up to date Windows experience. It also seamlessly allows endpoint managers to instantly provision cloud hosted PCs and manage physical and virtual devices through a unified portal and a fixed and predictable price.”

Microsoft may also use Cloud PC to help users of Windows 10X run Win32 apps as the 10X version reportedly will support only Universal Windows Platform (UWP) at launch time.

A website for Cloud PC is available and accessible, but connecting to it with an Azure Active Directory user account triggers only a message that says: “Your organization doesn’t have a subscription to Cloud PC.” The message may indicate that the service is currently in testing mode.