Welcome to Microsoft Desktop Analytics, the Windows Analytics successor

Now in public preview, Microsoft presents Desktop Analytics as the next chapter for Windows Analytics.

Microsoft announced in July that Desktop Analytics had hit public preview, after initially unveiling the latest dashboard tool back at Microsoft Ignite 2018. We’ve covered Desktop Analytics briefly when first shown off, but since it’s a little more widely available now, we wanted to take a deeper look at what it is and how it helps admins.

What is Desktop Analytics?

Desktop Analytics is part of Microsoft EMS and is a cloud service that integrates with SCCM, and eventually will integrate with Microsoft Intune. The service provides admins with a dashboard where they can inventory and monitor Windows applications and devices within an organization.

Within the Desktop Analytics dashboard accessed through Azure, admins can do a few things:

  • Create an organization-wide app inventory
  • Review and identify app compatibility issues with Windows 10 updates
  • Create pilot groups for testing updates
  • Deploy Windows 10 to managed devices

But, that’s not all folks; since Desktop Analytics replaces Windows Analytics, it also has Device Health, Update Compliance, and Upgrade Readiness, which provide some of the above features and a few additional ones. (Windows Analytics won’t be immediately phased out, likely holding on until Desktop Analytics is ready for general availability.)

Device Health lets admins determine what devices and device drivers are crashing, as well as suggestions on alternative driver options for remediation efforts. It also highlights any Windows Information Protection misconfigurations. Update Compliance provides admins a view into what versions of Windows every device is running on as well as see threat info through Windows Defender. Update Readiness provides application and driver compatibility for Windows 7, 8.1, and 10 as well as workflow assistance when upgrading your organization’s Windows devices.

One last feature of Desktop Analytics to mention is Desktop App Assure (DAA), which became globally available in February. With DAA, Microsoft provides organizations a way to make sure their Windows 7 applications work on Windows 10 as the former approaches EOL. If the application doesn’t work, their dev team will help those with 150+ seat subscriptions get the applications running on Windows 10. 

App compatibility, alongside Desktop App Assure, is an important part of Desktop Analytics as more companies migrate to Windows 10 and a service that third parties stepped in to provide. Login VSI previously released Login AT, which helps with compatibility testing after each update. At the same time, moving applications from Windows 7 to Windows 10 isn’t as big an issue as some people have made it out to be. Tim Mangan notes that the issue is around know how to deploy and “control the different underlying OS.” Plus, Windows 10 updates appear to be slowing down, with the most recent update being more akin to a service pack

What do you need to use Desktop Analytics?

Microsoft released info around what organizations need to use Desktop Analytics:

  • Azure subscription; admins need to have Global Admin permissions
  • Office 365 subscription; Microsoft notes that this is a requirement for the public preview, but that they might not always require it
  • Windows Enterprise, Education, or VDA license
  • Devices running Win7, 8.1 or 10 and ConfigMgr client 1902
  • ConfigMgr version 1902 and an admin with Full Administrator role

If your organization currently uses Windows Analytics, you can use the Desktop Analytics introduction wizard to convert your Windows Analytics workspace to the latter. Admins will still need to go through the ConfigMgr console for the device enrollment wizard.

Two things to note if you’re considering this newer solution. Desktop Analytics doesn’t support organizations upgrading to Windows 10 long-term servicing channel. And, secondly, it’s designed for “in-place upgrade[s],” not for big changes like going from 32-bit to 64-bit architecture. Admins are advised to use an imaging scenario, in these cases.

Quick thoughts

Now you know what Desktop Analytics is if you hadn’t heard about it yet. One interesting thing to note is that it doesn’t quite work with Intune yet, which is one of the smaller reasons why SCCM isn’t going to go away anytime soon. We’ve seen native Microsoft tools, like, Windows Defender get pretty popular (I know I prefer it to third-party AV solutions), so we’ll be keeping an eye out for reception from admins once it goes GA.

What do you think, have you been using it in preview? Let us know in a comment below or a tweet! 

Dig Deeper on Desktop management

Virtual Desktop