Microsoft Ready to Manage the Modern Desktop for Customers

Microsoft announced a new program to help business customers without a full, dedicated IT department manage their modern desktop infrastructure. Also this week: Skype calling is coming to Alexa devices; Google updates organizational and security tools for G Suite; Windows devs get some tips for their apps in the Microsoft Store; Windows Admin Center Version 1809 reaches GA; and here's how to tune into Ignite remotely.

Richard Hay, Lisa Schmeiser

September 22, 2018

5 Min Read
Windows Desktop

The announcement from Redmond earlier this week about the new Microsoft Managed Desktop (MMD) program was interesting based on its timing just one week before the company hosts more than 26,000 IT professionals in Orlando, Florida for their annual Ignite conference.

If there was a subject more appropriate to unveil in front of this crowd during Satya Nadella's Vision keynote Monday morning or the other technical keynotes later that day, the new MMD is certainly top of that list.

I am sure we are going to hear mentions of this new program during those keynotes and in sessions throughout the week. My recommendation for attendees wanting to learn more about MMD is to mark session BRK3320 (75 minutes on Wednesday) as must-see viewing. Bill Karagounis is one of Microsoft's General Managers and led the team which developed MMD. In addition, there is a shorter theater session, THR3093 (20 minutes on Monday) by Microsoft Senior Product Marketing Manager Nathan Mercer, which provides a whirlwind tour of the new initial offering.

Note: Both of these sessions will be streamed live in real time and available for on-demand viewing afterward from the MyIgnite portal.

So just what is this new MMD service from Microsoft?

According to Karagounis, it merges Microsoft 365 Enterprise, device-as-a-service, and device management via the cloud. Microsoft uses these elements to take care of the day to day management of a businesses on-premises hardware. This, in turn, allows the IT staff to participate more in the business side of the company instead of the daily routine of maintaining these modern desktops.

In developing this new program, Microsoft has noted two key benefits for customers that deliver on this device as a service offering:

Great experience with Microsoft 365 on modern devices: Our goal with MMD is to provide a great experience for users while keeping devices secure and up to date. MMD relies on the power of Microsoft 365, running in a consistent, lightweight, reference architecture that continues to evolve to allow our customers to take full advantage of our intelligent security capabilities to protect them from nascent threats. Importantly, MMD is built on modern devices that meet our specification and runtime quality bar.

Analytics benefit all customers: Analytics are at the heart of MMD. We leverage analytics to provide operational and security insights and learnings, so we can constantly monitor and improve, as well as enable us to manage the global MMD device population. As an example, we use insights and AI to determine which devices are ready for feature updates or, conversely, whether a specific app is blocking a device’s ability to update so we can act.

Right now, MMD is being used by a small number of customers in the United States and the United Kingdom. Service will start up in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand in early 2019 with several other geographies being added in late 2019.

It seems Microsoft understands a program like this must be slowly and methodically tested and rolled out in order to build the trust factor for customers considering a move to MMD. By taking this steady state pace, they will be able to ultimately have the data to prove its effectiveness and tweak processes to make it even more reliable.


Microsoft and Amazon have already partnered up by introducing their virtual assistants, Cortana and Aleza, to each other to share access to each others skills. Now they are taking that partnership to another level by announcing the addition of Skype calling to Alexa devices. This feature will be rolling out later this year to consumers and I suspect that testing will be a stepping stone for this capability eventually being made available for Skype For Business users.

Google shared details about how they have expanded organizational insights with the addition of new G Suite features for their customers. The first of these two new tools is Work Insights (Beta). It helps companies measure and understand how digital transformation is taking hold within their organization.  The Investigation tool has now reached general availability and is available in the G Suite Security Center. It can remediate, prevent and detect suspicious activity within the companies G Suite ecosystem.

Windows developers get some tips from the Microsoft Store team this week on how to elevate their apps ratings, reviews and feedback which are very critical elements of garnering success around their work. Among the areas they recommend: developers engage include asking for reviews in the app, responding directly to customer reviews and other methods of direct feedback plus taking action on those areas to fix the sticking points users are hitting. A developer can build a lot of app loyalty by being proactive in dealing with the challenging aspects of their apps when identified by customers.

Microsoft announced the general availability of Windows Admin Center 1809 and its associated Software Development Kit (SDK). The WAC is Microsoft's new graphical tool for managing Windows Server and it is installed and accessed purely through the browser. The list of updates is much too long for this short summary so be sure to go check out the release notes where you will also find download links and documentation for getting started with the tool.

Next week is Microsoft Ignite in Orlando, Florida, and ITPro Today will be there bringing you coverage throughout the week. If you are unable to attend in person this year, Microsoft has shared that all sessions will be live streamed and available online for on demand viewing soon afterward. This is a first for Microsoft Ignite and all you need to do for that access is register at Microsoft's MyIgnite website for full access. The Vision and Technology keynotes will be accessible to any viewer without registering on the MyIgnite website.

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About the Author(s)

Richard Hay

Senior Content Producer, IT Pro Today (Informa Tech)

I served for 29 plus years in the U.S. Navy and retired as a Master Chief Petty Officer in November 2011. My work background in the Navy was telecommunications related so my hobby of computers fit well with what I did for the Navy. I consider myself a tech geek and enjoy most things in that arena.

My first website – – came online in 1995. Back then I used GeoCities Web Hosting for it and is the result of the work I have done on that site since 1995.

In January 2010 my community contributions were recognized by Microsoft when I received my first Most Valuable Professional (MVP) Award for the Windows Operating System. Since then I have been renewed as a Microsoft MVP each subsequent year since that initial award. I am also a member of the inaugural group of Windows Insider MVPs which began in 2016.

I previously hosted the Observed Tech PODCAST for 10 years and 317 episodes and now host a new podcast called Faith, Tech, and Space. 

I began contributing to Penton Technology websites in January 2015 and in April 2017 I was hired as the Senior Content Producer for Penton Technology which is now Informa Tech. In that role, I contribute to ITPro Today and cover operating systems, enterprise technology, and productivity.

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