This year pushed an unprecedented number of people into a remote-working situation – and pushed IT departments into a tricky position. They've been tasked with figuring out how to maintain their workforce’s computing environments so those systems are still secure and productive, no matter where the end user was or how they're accessing them.
During Microsoft Ignite 2020, the company has rolled out a number of updates and features aimed at meeting the needs of IT pros who are navigating a newly remote or hybrid workforce. Microsoft Endpoint Manager, which was designed to simplify IT best practices in managing apps and devices, got a plethora of new features, as did the tools for Office deployment.
Here is a snapshot of some of the key IT admin end user-related updates out of Microsoft Ignite 2020.
Microsoft Endpoint Manager (MEM)
Microsoft Tunnel: Provides remote access to iOS and Android devices so they can connect with on-premises apps and other resources while employees are mobile. This new feature supports VPN for the full device or on app-by-app basis. Availability: Currently in public preview.
Virtual Endpoint Management: Windows Virtual Desktop and third-party virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) endpoints can now be managed like physical devices in MEM’s console. Availability: Public preview expected by the end of this year.
Endpoint Management of macOS Devices: New capabilities from MEM will allow full endpoint management of devices running Apple’s desktop operating system. This includes the ability to deploy scripts, a new device enrollment experience, and single sign-on across apps. In addition, there will be new, managed app lifecycle features from Apple. Availability: Currently in public preview.
Shared iPad for Business Support: Businesses who utilize Apple’s iPad for some of their infrastructure can now manage and deploy those devices using MEM. This enhancement includes the ability to use Azure Active Directory (AAD) work credentials to verify identity and log into the device. This supports multiple users on the device with separate passcodes for each user, as well as full data protections and security for company information. Availability: Currently in public preview.
Insights and Controls: Enhanced data analysis allows admins to review Office client apps across the company and take necessary support actions on end user devices. It provides full consent and opt-in for enterprise management via the cloud, inventory for Office add-ins and devices, timelines for security patch installation on devices, and overall patch compliance across the company. Availability: Now in wide release.
Predictable Servicing Automation: By deploying smaller updates to client devices and software, there will be less disruption that blocks employee productivity. Improvements in network utilization and a more streamlined process means events like Patch Tuesday will be less disruptive. Abilities to roll back to previous builds or skip a new build will help minimize endpoint concerns and issues. Availability: Now in wide release.
Office App Health and Remediation: Provides an overview of overall app health, notices for reliability or performance degradation, app-by-app metrics that display app activity – including device crashes caused by apps. Other data points include time trends for both performance and reliability. Availability: Now in wide release.
The operating system no longer dominates an Ignite news cycle like it did during its debut, but there were still some notable new features announced during Microsoft Ignite 2020.
- Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL): Improvements to performance and better app support.
- WSL 2 can now be installed on Windows 10 (Version 1903) and higher to replace the first version of WSL on those systems. Improvements include faster file structure access and better compatibility with Windows 10.
- Customers testing Windows Insiders builds can now try out a preview of a Linux graphical user interface (GUI) for WSL2. This will enable developers to better include Linux apps in their work routine on Windows 10. Expected to arrive in Windows Insider builds in late September or early October.
- New command line shortcut for installing WSL2 on Windows 10: “wsl –install” to provide quicker access to installation and use of the feature.
- Windows Terminal Preview now includes active hyperlinks which open in the default web browser. Jump lists are now available for accessing custom profiles when opening Windows Terminal from shortcuts on the Start menu or Taskbar.
- Windows Terminal for all systems now includes a command palette to assist with navigation and use of a terminal by putting all commands in one central location.
Microsoft Edge, the new web browser from Microsoft based on Chromium, is providing more secure remote work capabilities with two new experiences. One is the use of mobile application management (MAM), which allows IT administrators to selectively manage individual work-related apps on a user’s device based on user identity.
In addition, Microsoft Edge will natively support policies for Microsoft Endpoint DLP, a suite of features used to discover and protect sensitive items across Microsoft 365 services. There were other new features unveiled at Microsoft Ignite 2020 as well:
- Microsoft Edge will be available on Linux in public preview in October.
- Rollback of Microsoft Edge to previous versions of the browser in the event an update is not compatible with that deployment.
- Improved Enterprise New Tab page provides employees access to personalized content across the enterprise. It will also include industry related news feeds and an Office 365 feed on this one single page for quick review and access.
Microsoft continues to deploy updates and enhancements that are targeted at IT pros and system admins to help make the management of users, devices, and company resource more streamlined and efficient.
Stay up to speed with all of our Microsoft Ignite 2020 coverage here at ITPro Today for further news and analysis.