Desktop Analytics: Introduction to Solution – Part 3

In the previous article dedicated to Desktop Analytics we saw how to create the dedicated portal and how to onboard compatible systems on the solution; in this third and last part, we will provide an overview of the Desktop Analytics portal and its main features.

Before proceeding with the overview on the Desktop Analytics portal, it is important to define some fundamental concepts related to the solution:

  • Deployment plans: it is the set of devices and criteria that will be used for the distribution of the new Windows 10 operating system; within a deployment plan it is possible to define:
    • Windows 10 version to distribute;
    • System groups;
    • Distribution Eligibility Rules;
    • App importance;
    • Systems to be included in the Pilot phase;
    • Resolution app issues based on information provided by Desktop Analytics;
  • Assets: set of devices and applications inventoried by Desktop Analytics.
  • Quality e Feature Updates: within the solution, the status of the security and feature updates inventoried on the various systems will be reported.
  • Compatibility assessment: a classification of the applications and drivers installed is provided based on the diagnostic data collected by Microsoft; the classification categories can be:
    • Low: no signs were detected that may deem the application at risk;
    • Medium: the functionality of the application could be compromised;
    • High: in the event of an upgrade, the application will stop working;;
    • Unknown: it was not possible to evaluate the application based on the data collected by Microsoft;
  • Health status monitoring: allows you to identify any anomalies on the systems when updating to the latest version (eg: percentage of systems that have application crashes).

Portal overview

To access the Desktop Analytics portal, it is necessary to connect to the Microsoft Endpoint Manager admin center and, through the All Services section, select the Desktop Analytics option.

The Home screen will be displayed where you will find a general overview of the fundamental aspects of the solution.

The first box will show the status of the security updates installed on the various Windows 10 systems registered on Desktop Analytics::

Figure 1 – Security Updates

The devices are divided according to the following categories:

  • Latest: the device have installed the latest update currently available;
  • Latest-1: the device have installed the previous version of the latest update available;
  • Older: the device has not installed a sufficiently recent update;
  • Not measured: the device has not been evaluated by Desktop Analytics; this category includes Windows 7, Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 Insider Preview systems;

Selecting the devices registered in the Security Updates section, you can access the respective section to check the actual status of the systems.

Windows 10 systems will be divided by build installed and, once the affected version has been selected, a detailed graph will be displayed where the counts of the various systems for each state and any identified error cases will be shown.

Figure 2 – Security Updates details

In the second pane, a summary of the feature updates installed on the systems will be shown; also in this case, the devices will be divided into categories:

  • In service: the system is running the latest feature update available for the affected channel;
  • Near end of service: a feature update is running on the system which will expire in the next 90 days;
  • End of service: an out of support feature update is running on the system;
  • Not measured: the device has not been evaluated by Desktop Analytics; this category includes Windows 7, Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 Insider Preview systems;

Also in this case, selecting the devices you access the detail section, where you can view the update status of the various Windows 10 devices and a graph showing the progress of version upgrades over time:

Figure 3 – Feature Updates

Within the Assets section, present on the Home Page, the count of inventoried devices and applications will be reported; selecting the single sub-section will take you to the respective detail page.

The Devices tab contains all the key information of the various company devices registered on Desktop Analytics; the App tab will show all the installed apps / drivers that the solution detects on Windows 10 devices. The apps categorized as imported are installed on more than 2% of the registered devices; It is also possible to define a category for the individual applications installed in such a way as to be able to define their importance and a possible update plan. Below are the available categories:

  • Critical
  • Important
  • Ignore
  • Not reviewed
  • Not important
Figure 4 – Apps Overview

Within the last section on the Home Page, it will be possible to view one of the most important aspects of the Desktop Analytics solution which are the Deployment Plans; these plans have the following peculiarities:

  • Automatically suggest which devices to include within the Pilot phase;
  • Identify any application compatibility problems and suggest any remediation (only for public applications and not for any corporate LoB applications);
  • Monitor the integrity of the distribution before, during and after the upgrade;
  • Track the status of the distribution;

To create a new distribution plan, it is necessary to press the Create button in the Deployment Plans section on the left ribbon:

Figure 5 – Deployment Plan creation

While plan creation, you will need to define:

  • Operating system build to deploy;
  • Group of devices involved in the distribution;
  • Scheduled date for completion of the deployment;

After the creation is complete, it will take a few hours for the solution to process the data.

Once the deployment plans have been created, the new build of the operating system can be distributed to the affected devices through integration with Configuration Manager; to do this, follow the steps below:

  • Access Configuration Manager console;
  • Within the Software Library section, expand the Desktop Analytics folder;
  • Select the Deployment Plans option;
  • Right click on the previously created Deployment Plan and select the Deployment Plans Details option;
  • From the ribbon at the top, select the Create Phased Deployment option;
  • At this point, configure the deployment Task Sequence of the new version of the operating system and the collection(s) containing the systems involved in the update;

It will be possible to monitor the system update process at any time by accessing the Deployment Status section in the Deployment Plans created:

Figure 6 – Deployment Plans status

Within the deployment plan created, it is also possible to check the compatibility status of the applications and drivers installed (Compatibility assessment); Desktop Analytics checks the Microsoft app compatibility database for any known issues. This database is used to determine any existing locks for Microsoft or third-party public applications.

It is possible to identify this type of incompatibility by selecting the individual app within the Apps view in the Plans assets section in your Deployment Plan:

Figure 7 – Compatibility Issues

References

Here are some useful references to the official Microsoft documentation:

Conclusions

In these three articles related to Desktop Analytics, we provided a 360 degree view of the solution and the benefits that can be obtained with its activation. In a few steps you will have a solution that will allow you to centrally and easily manage the update of your assets to subsequent builds of Windows 10.

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