An important heads-up for enterprises not using Microsoft Config Manager or Intune to manage Windows 10 clients: a big change is coming…

It has been a week ago already: Microsoft Ignite 2019 has been fascinating and quite a learning experience. Especially on ‘Windows as a Service’ (WaaS) there have been lots of presentations and insights. Interest was huge, most sessions were filled to the brim: it is clear, Microsoft’s ever changing approach for Windows 10 feature updates are on top of mind with all IT professionals responsible for Windows endpoints.

The last few years managing feature update releases in the enterprise has been ‘rocky’ to say the least. As a result, Microsoft invested heavily in making WaaS within the enterprise noticeably more easy, transparent and reliable. WaaS will always remain a challenge, but Microsoft’s effort to improve feature update deployment and management is commendable.

Although we will cover other interesting topics and lessons learned from Ignite regarding Windows as a Service in the future, let us focus now on one substantial change that is easily overlooked and can have massive consequences for current Windows Analytics and future Desktop analytics users…

Desktop Analytics, the Windows Analytics successor, will be -exclusively- integrated in Microsoft Endpoint Manager (MeM), the new branding for Config Manager and Intune. This is great news if you are managing Windows 10 clients with Microsoft Config Manager and/or Intune.

But, if you are not using Microsoft’s endpoint management solutions, and you are currently using Windows Analytics or plan to use Desktop Analytics, you will have to look for alternatives! This question has been profoundly answered at Ignite: Microsoft will not provide an alternative, other than investment and migration to Microsoft Endpoint Manager.

Windows Analytics support will end January 31st 2020 with a hard stop. Its functionality is continued and enhanced in Desktop Analytics only, which is solely available to organisations on a sufficient Windows 10 Enterprise licensing level (E3 and E5), using Config Manager or Intune to manage their desktop/laptop estate.

As a result, after 31st of January 2020, when your organisation manages Windows 10 clients with Symantec, Ivanti, VMware, IBM, Matrix42 and other alternatives: your WaaS strategy cannot depend on Windows Analytics and its replacement Desktop Analytics anymore.

Why would you care about Windows/Desktop Analytics? 

Especially when your organisation works with thousands of Windows applications and endpoints, the Upgrade Readiness component of Windows/Desktop Analytics provides instrumental compatibility information on application and driver readiness, issues and possible fixes, before and during a feature update deployment.

Microsoft maintains an extensive compatibility database, acquired through telemetry from 800+ million Windows 10 clients and analyzed with machine learning algorithms. Matching and comparing this information with all applications, drivers and devices in your corporate landscape, Windows Analytics gives immediate insight in potential issues and unknowns, allowing you to focus your effort on validating and remediating possible problems where they can be most expected. For every large organization that is serious about Windows as a Service, the Windows Analytics inventory assessment component has proven its value.

What is the alternative for enterprises not using Config Manager or Intune but still focused on being WaaS ready? 

For now, it is crucially important is to be aware of this change and start thinking about revising your WaaS readiness strategy. It is important to create awareness in your organisation and consider the impact. In our next blog we will discuss practical strategies and alternative solutions.

If you want more in-depth information, expect our continuously evolving ‘WaaS readiness Strategy Guide’ to receive a massive update soon, with all the new insights and lessons learned from Microsoft Ignite. Especially if you already have downloaded the current publication, keep an eye out on our updated white paper which will be released in the upcoming weeks.