Just as the cloud freed many administrators from the day-to-day tedium of tending to Exchange servers and infrastructure like Domain Controllers, Microsoft Managed Desktop (MMD) could do the same for the corporate desktop. The new service combines Microsoft 365 Enterprise (a combined Windows 10, Office 365, and Enterprise Mobility bundle), hardware leasing, and cloud-based device management to deliver secured, updated, and maintained systems, all with software maintenance handled by Microsoft.
Redmond says that it’s offering the service in response to customer desire to hand off day-to-day device management tasks and spend more time addressing the needs of their organizations.
The new service will work on what the company calls “modern hardware”: systems with the right hardware security features and remote-management capabilities. This will include both first-party Surface systems and, in coming months, third-party machines from companies such as Dell and HP. With MMD, customers will be able to put their credentials into systems straight from the OEM. Machines will retrieve their configuration, enroll in device management, and install necessary applications using Windows AutoPilot. There should be no need for IT personnel to ever touch the machines.
Cloud-based administration also means cloud-based analytics. Microsoft will be able to use information gleaned from one customer about things like incompatibilities or malware outbreaks. It will then be able to apply those learnings across the entire range of MMD machines.
MMD is live today for a small number of customers in the US and UK. Canada, Australia, and New Zealand will be joining them in early 2019, with further geographies in the second half of 2019.