Let’s face it…IT is complex. It’s possibly an understatement to say that for an IT administrator, as well as the typical end-user, it can be difficult to keep up with day-to-day demands of your own organization, while simultaneously delivering, supporting and using new technology that continues to drive the business forward.
We simply live and work in a time in which there is more change happening at a more rapid pace than ever before. Users are more mobile, using a wider variety of devices, and working from a larger number of locations than ever before, yet they are still required to make the best use of the tools they have available to remain efficient and productive.
The way in which organizations empower employees across all their devices is changing rapidly as well. While organizations are being encouraged to deliver work experiences that are more empowering and transformative for their users, they are beginning to show desire to move to a more consistent and unified way to enable their users across all their devices, while still providing the required security and protection of the organization’s assets. Bottom line, most of us have the “desire” to make the move, we simply need some guidance on the best way to do it.
Enter Microsoft’s shift to a modern workplace powered by Windows 10 and Office 365 ProPlus.
Modern desktop is aimed at putting the power of the cloud in the hands of both end users and IT. It not only offers end users the most productive, most secure computing experience, it also saves IT time and money so you can focus on driving business results. The shift to a modern desktop is an extension of what many organizations are already doing or may be (should be) planning to do in the near future. Microsoft is aiding this process by changing their philosophy to the way they build tools and provide services for IT professionals, which is now referred to as “Integrated for Simplicity.”
The makeup of a modern desktop is simple: Windows 10 with Office 365 ProPlus—which are built in and driven by the cloud so that their scale, compute, automation, intelligence, and flexibility can simplify your IT. Supporting your end users with the Office ProPlus apps is a fundamental component of a modern desktop. These are the only apps with an artificial intelligence (AI) that can do the hard work of security while simultaneously improving and beautifying documents and presentations.
A critical part of any desktop deployment plan is analysis of existing applications, and the process of testing apps and remediating issues has historically been very manual and very time consuming. Microsoft 365 has offered incredible tools to help customers shift to a modern desktop, including System Center Configuration Manager, Microsoft Intune, Windows Analytics, and Office Readiness Toolkit. This list of tools continues to grow.
Windows Analytics has been expanded to Desktop Analytics—a cloud-based service integrated with ConfigMgr and designed to create an inventory of apps running in the organization, assess app compatibility with the latest feature updates of Windows 10 and Office 365 ProPlus, and create pilot groups that represent the entire application and driver estate across a minimal set of devices.
This service will provide information to help you make better, more informed decisions about the update readiness of your Windows and Office clients. It is likely one of the most powerful tools ever created by Microsoft. Combining data from your own organization with data aggregated from millions of devices connected to Microsoft’s cloud services, you can take the guess work out of testing and focus your attention on key blockers.
Also available is Desktop App Assure, which is designed to address and remediate issues with Windows 10 and Office 365 ProPlus app compatibility. Because Windows 10 and Office 365 ProPlus were designed for compatibility, we see a very low percentage of compatibility issues (according to Microsoft, less than 0.19 percent of apps have had an issue). Let’s put that number into a bit of perspective - for every 1,000 apps that run on Windows 7, we see just two that have compatibility issues with Windows 10. And when Microsoft encounters an issue with Windows or Office, they quickly fix the products so that it removes that blocker for everyone else.
Desktop App Assure is being extended to the new Microsoft Edge and Windows Virtual Desktop, and being renamed to App Assure. So, you can now use App Assure to help you remediate any compatibility issues you might encounter as you move your apps to Windows Virtual Desktop. If you find any app compatibility issues after a Windows 10 or Office 365 ProPlus update, Desktop App Assure (App Assure) is designed to help you get a fix. Support for the NEW Microsoft Edge will be available when Edge is generally available (general availability targeted for Jan 15, 2020).
There are many ways to begin this shift to the modern desktop. For example, many tools and processes you’re likely using right now—like Configuration Manager and Active Directory—can easily be cloud-connected. This not only reduces complexity, but it also harnesses the power of Microsoft’s cloud-driven intelligence.
Today, System Center Configuration Manager (ConfigMgr) and Microsoft Intune are managing an estimated 200 million devices. ConfigMgr and Intune provide integrated cloud-powered management tools, and unique co-management options to provision, deploy, manage, and secure endpoints and applications across an organization. Microsoft intends to simplify this vision even more with the introduction of Microsoft Endpoint Manger.
Microsoft Endpoint Manager is the convergence of Intune and ConfigMgr functionality and data—plus new intelligent actions—offering seamless, end-to-end management solution without the complexity of a migration or disruption to productivity. This will provide transformative modern management and security that meets customers where they are and helps them move to the cloud. In addition to Intune and ConfigMgr, Microsoft Endpoint Manager includes the Device Management Admin Center (DMAC) and Desktop Analytics. To make it even easier for you, Microsoft recently announced that they are also simplifying licensing, and are making the licensing to Intune available to all ConfigMgr customers to co-manage your Windows devices (to manage non-Windows devices, you may need to purchase additional licensing). We can look forward to seeing Microsoft Endpoint Manager features and experiences in upcoming months.
You should also be excited about these two recently announced tools: Microsoft Productivity Score and Managed Meeting Rooms.
Productivity Score provides insights and visibility into how your organization works that help you transform how your users get work done.
It quantifies how people are collaborating on content, working from anywhere, developing a meeting culture, and communicating with each other, allowing you to see the different ways that work gets done. With advice on how people can work in new ways and training materials to help them learn, you can empower everyone to do their best work. Additionally, Productivity Score provides insights by assessing policies, device settings, and hardware and application performance within the organizational environment and recommends actions taken in Microsoft Endpoint Manager.
Productive meetings are essential to success in the modern workplace. Coupled with the rise in remote collaboration, business leaders increasingly associate more effective meetings with having the right meeting room technology and environment. Managed Meeting Rooms is a cloud-based IT management and security monitoring service that ensures that Teams meeting rooms are secured, up to date, and proactively monitored for a great in-room experience. The service is currently in private preview soon to be available to you!
Some additional recent news from Microsoft is that you can expect to see some enhancements to the Microsoft 365 Admin Center, such as the new Global Reader Role, helping to reduce the number of fully privileged Global administrators in your organization. You will also start to see some new AI-powered recommendations in the areas of Information Protection, Advanced Threat Protection, self-service password resets and more, which will help you identify potential areas of concern and quickly act to address them.
There have also been some enhancements to the Office 365 Groups feature to make group management more efficient and secure, including support for naming policies, expiry and auto-renewal based on activity, the ability to browse and restore deleted groups and rename group SharePoint site URLs, the addition of the Groups admin role, and new features for Groups clients such as Outlook, Teams, Yammer, and Planner.
So, what do you need to do to prepare for your shift to the modern desktop?
As you plan for the future of your organization, prioritize finishing Windows 10 upgrades before January 2020. Both Windows 7 and Office 2010 will reach the end of extended support in 2020. If you feel you need or would like some assistance, reach out to the FastTrack team for help with upgrades, migrations, and application compatibility.
It is also highly recommended that you begin investigating/planning how (or if) you have a need to link your on-premises Active Directory with Azure Active Directory, plan to cloud-connect Configuration Manager with Intune, think about getting your data up to the cloud with OneDrive, and get familiar with the Microsoft 365 Admin Center to better understand all of the features and workspaces it provides for security, compliance, device management and more.
Microsoft can provide the technologies to help you transition to the cloud and make the modern desktop vision become a reality, but you still need to obtain the knowledge and skills to build an effective plan.
To gain that necessary knowledge, get some hands-on instructor-led training by attending one or more of our Microsoft 365 courses. We’d love to have you attend in person or virtually using our Virtual Training platform to help you save travel costs. And in case you didn’t know, however you choose to attend these courses, you will also receive a FREE Pearson Vue Certification exam voucher to get you moving down the road to certification!
For more information on Microsoft 365 courses, check out our upcoming schedule at www.LrsEducationServices.com.
Here are some upcoming courses to help you expand your knowledge track for the modern workplace:
MS-900T01 Microsoft 365 Fundamentals
MS-100: Microsoft 365 Identity and Services Track
MS-500: Microsoft 365 Security Administration Track
If you have any questions or would like more information regarding courses scheduled at LRS Education Services, please call 877 832.0688 ext. 1493 or email us at getsmart@LRS.com.
LRS Education Services Technical Instructor
MCT, MCSA, MCITP, MCTS, MCSE, MCP
Microsoft 365 Certified: Enterprise Administrator Expert
Microsoft 365 Certified: Security Administrator Associate
Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate