One of the biggest pain points when moving to a new operating system such as Windows 10 is application compatibility. Another is how to pilot the new OS with actual end users. Microsoft has had a service in Azure called Windows Analytics that helps with app and driver compatibility, but up until now it has been on the deployment team to identify good candidates for a pilot. The new evolution of Windows Analytics will be called Desktop Analytics and will help organizations assess their environments on an ongoing basis for app compatibility with Windows 10 and Office ProPlus. This includes things like Outlook add-ins, website compatibility, and framework compatibility. All of this data is pumped through Microsoft AI and ML to help determine the best candidates for piloting new builds. They’re taking a lot of the work out of migration projects, which is great! Like Windows Analytics, this tool is designed not only to help with an initial Windows 10 migration, but also Windows 10 and Office ProPlus updates released thereafter. Microsoft leverages its vast customer base
The best way to get started is to enroll for Windows Analytics now so your data can be migrated once Desktop Analytics is available. For more information on both here:
Desktop App Assure
Microsoft has been involved in application compatibility testing and certification in Windows for a long time. They realize enterprise customers aren’t going to upgrade if their applications don’t run on the latest operating systems. Another step in the compatibility journey is called Desktop App Assure. Basically, this is a FastTrack service for Windows 10 Enterprise and Education customers that allows them to file a ticket and have Microsoft work on the app compatibility issue with them. Moving from Windows 7 to Windows 10 isn’t as big of a deal as going from Windows XP to Windows 7, but there are still apps that just don’t want to run on the newest OS, so this is a welcome addition to any enterprise customer’s app compatibility toolkit. This service started in preview October 1st and will be generally available February 1st, 2019.
Longer Servicing for Windows 10 Enterprise and Education
This one is pretty easy to explain. Microsoft received a lot of flack for only supporting OS releases for 18 months so instead they’re moving to 30 months of support for the currently supported September releases and 18 months of support for the March releases. This gives organizations more time for compatibility and update testing before upgrading. You can still move from a March to a September cadence if you so choose or go back from September to March if your environment needs it. This is a GREAT reason to use Desktop Analytics going forward, so you always know the compatibility state of your environment with current and future Windows 10 updates.
Intune + SCCM
Everything at Ignite was cloud-centric and SCCM was no different. Although SCCM is still the go-to for most organizations, Microsoft is making it easier to integrate SCCM with Intune. This includes Desktop Analytics support in SCCM 1809+ as well as Win32 app support in Intune. I feel as though there were definitely more Intune related announcements, but Microsoft did make it clear that SCCM is here to stay as long as customers want to use it. I believe them, but I can also see the writing on the wall with regard to moving to cloud management of endpoints. I’m not telling anyone to migrate….yet. As Intune matures though, it will be harder and harder to justify the infrastructure and management cost of SCCM, especially when a lot of other workloads shift out to the cloud.