Desktop Analytics: Introduction to Solution – Part 1

Desktop Analytics offers a 360-degree view of all aspects of application and driver compatibility when it comes to updating your Windows 10 devices; this Microsoft Cloud service, integrated with Microsoft Endpoint Configuration Manager, combines the data of your organization with the aggregate data of the various Windows 10 devices connected to cloud services.

The greatest advantage that this solution brings is to help companies keep their Windows 10 devices up-to-date without running into problems related to incompatibility with new versions of the operating system.

Desktop Analytics is the evolution of Windows Analytics (retired on January 31, 2020). The three components of the old program: Upgrade Readiness, Update Compliance, and Device Health, have all been combined into the new service.

This solution offers the following advantages:

  • Devices and software inventory: inventory of key aspects during the upgrade process such as apps and versions of Windows;
  • Pilot phase: identification of a minimum number of systems that allows the widest coverage of factors; identifying the factors considered most important for the upgrade process and making sure that the Pilot is optimal avoids running into application incompatibilities when the upgrade process has now been extended to the entire organization.
  • Problem identification: Using the aggregate data collected from other Windows 10 devices and the data collected on your environment, the service makes a prediction of potential problems and suggests (if any) any remediation
  • Integration with Configuration Manager: you can integrate this cloud solution with your Configuration Manager infrastructure present on-premise.

Through the integration with Configuration Manager, it is possible to:

  • Create an inventory of apps running in the organization;
  • Evaluate app compatibility with the latest Windows 10 Feature Updates;
  • Identify any compatibility issues and receive suggestions on remediation to apply;
  • Create defined Pilot groups that are able to represent all the various cases present in the company;
  • Deploy Windows 10 from the Pilot phase to the Production phase;

Requirements

In order to proceed with the Desktop Analytics activation, you must have the following prerequisites and rights:

  • Active Azure Subscription with Global Admin permission (Microsoft accounts are not supported):
    • Workspace owner or contributor permission;
    • Desktop Analytics Administrator role;
    • Log Analytics Contributor and User Access Administrator roles on resource group where an existing workspace resides or on the resource group where the new workspace will be created;
    • Owner, or Contributor and User Access Administrator roles on the subscription where the workspace will be created;
  • Configuration Manager Current Branch version 1902 (with update rollup 4500571) or above:
    • Full Administrator role in CM;
  • Windows 7Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 devices;
    • CM agent installation required (version 1902 or above);
    • Installation of the latest updates available for each version of the operating system;
  • Diagnostic data activated;
Figure 1 – Diagnostic Data
  • Connectivity from devices to the Microsoft public cloud;

Licensing and pricing

Devices registered on Desktop Analytics can be used by users who have associated one of the following licenses:

  • Windows 10 Enterprise E3 or E5 (included Microsoft 365 F1, E3, or E5);
  • Windows 10 Education A3 or A5 (included in Microsoft 365 A3 or A5);
  • Windows Virtual Desktop Access E3 or E5;
  • Configuration Manager;

A fundamental aspect is that, in addition to the cost of the licenses / subscriptions mentioned above, there are no additional costs for using Desktop Analytics with Azure Log Analytics. The types of data entered by Desktop Analytics are not subject to data entry costs; as these are non-billable types of data, these data are not subject to the daily data entry limit set by Log Analytics.

Data privacy

Desktop Analytics fulfills all aspects concerning the processing of personal data indicated in the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation – General Data Protection Regulation); to ensure that these aspects are respected, Microsoft is based on some basic principles such as:

  • Transparency;
  • Control;
  • Security;
  • Trust;

All diagnostic events sent to Microsoft are documented and can be verified through the Windows Diagnostic Data Viewer tool (Transparency) as it is possible to control the level of events sent in such a way as to limit sending to the minimum required for the solution (Control) .

Microsoft protects the data sent with strong encryption (Security) and includes Desktop Analytics among the solutions that support the privacy policy and the conditions of the online service (Trust).

Below is an overview of the diagnostic data flow that each device sends to the solution:

Figure 2 – Diagnostic Data Flow

References

Here are some useful references to the official Microsoft documentation:

Conclusions

Desktop Analytics offers companies the opportunity to have an overview of their assets and their updating status; it also allows you to “anticipate” any critical issues related to application incompatibilities that were previously identified only after updating.

In the second part of the article, the necessary information will be provided in order to proceed with the creation of the Desktop Analytics workspace and the registration of devices on the portal.

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