Microsoft Releases Desktop Analytics Service to Preview

A preview of Microsoft's Desktop Analytics service, which is designed to help organizations assess their readiness for Windows 10 upgrades, became available on Monday.

The preview currently applies just to organizations using Microsoft's System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) management solution. The Desktop Analytics service integrates with SCCM and can be used to help organizations assess the compatibility of their applications for Windows 10 upgrades.

In the "near future," Microsoft plans to make the Desktop Analytics service available for users of the Microsoft Intune mobile management service, too.

Microsoft had first described the Desktop Analytics service briefly back in September, but didn't explain at the time that SCCM or Intune was needed to use it. Apparently, SCCM is needed to pilot the upgrades. The role of the Desktop Analytics service is to harvest the overall information about an organization's device data. It also uses Microsoft's data that's been "aggregated from millions of devices" to make the upgrade assessments.

Windows Analytics Replacement
Desktop Analytics is now being described as "a successor to Windows Analytics," another tool for assessing Windows 10 upgrade readiness that's part of the Operations Management Suite product. Here's how that product positioning was characterized in Microsoft's "What Is Desktop Analytics" document:

Desktop Analytics is a successor of Windows Analytics. The Windows Analytics service includes Upgrade Readiness, Update Compliance, and Device Health. All of these capabilities are combined in the Desktop Analytics service. Desktop Analytics also is more tightly integrated with Configuration Manager.

Microsoft currently provides access to some of the Windows 10 upgrade-readiness capabilities of Windows Analytics at no charge, but the fate of Windows Analytics remains doubtful. Here's how Microsoft's Zach Dvorak described that situation in a Microsoft Tech Community post:

Desktop Analytics is part of Microsoft's Unified Endpoint Management offering, so a first-party management tool (i.e. ConfigMgr, or Intune in the near future) is a requirement. You can continue using Windows Analytics for the time being. We'll have more to share about the future of Windows Analytics in the coming months as we work to make Desktop Analytics generally available. 

Desktop Analytics isn't designed for organizations planning to upgrade to the long-term servicing channel releases of Windows 10, according to the "What Is Desktop Analytics" document. It's mostly designed to help organizations planning so-called "in-place upgrades" to Windows 10 from older Windows versions. With an in-place upgrade, the underlying bits of the operating system get replaced without having to wipe the installed software first.

Microsoft is claiming that Desktop Analytics uses its cloud services to reduce the time-consuming process of app testing for IT pros when considering Windows 10 upgrades. It also claims that Windows 10 is highly compatible with existing Windows-based apps. For instance, in its Desktop App Assure FastTrack partner program, just 0.1 percent of apps were found to have had compatibility issues with Windows 10, Microsoft indicated back in January.

The following licensing requirements are needed to use Desktop Analytics, according to Microsoft's "What Is Desktop Analytics" document:

  • Windows 10 Enterprise E3 or E5; or Microsoft 365 F1, E3, or E5
  • Windows 10 Education A3 or A5; or Microsoft 365 A3 or A5
  • Windows VDA E3 or E5

IT pros also need to have global administrator rights with an Azure subscription to set up Desktop Analytics. The actual setup process happens within the Azure Portal, according to Microsoft's documentation. SCCM users need to have "version 1902 with update rollup (4500571) or later" installed. The service will support upgrade planning for Windows 10 version 1709 or later versions.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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