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Rumors Swirl About Microsoft Managed Desktop

If you follow the Windows 10 rumor mill, there’s quite a bit of buzz right now about a potential MS offering called the Microsoft Managed Desktop. I picked this story up from the ever-reliable Mary Jo Foley at ZDNet, who tracks it back to a story on Petri.com. That latter item is entitled “Where’s Microsoft 365 Headed Next? The Managed Desktop.” Its author reports that by mining some new job postings from MS he learned about something called MMD, which may stand for “Microsoft 365 Managed Desktop” or “Microsoft Managed Desktop.” Here’s a quote of great interest, lifted verbatim from those MS job postings:

Microsoft 365 Managed Desktop (MMD) is a new, per-user subscription service that enables customers with devices that can take advantage of the latest productivity tools and technologies (Device as a Service) in a secure, monitored, and supported IT environment (IT as a Service).

MS. Foley helps to flesh this out with some informed speculation as to what it all means — namely, that customers will have the option to “lease a Windows 10 device that’s automatically provisioned for them and have the operating system kept up-to-date and more for a single monthly fee…” Petri’s writer (Brad Sams, who also partners with Paul Thurrott at Thurrott.com) also observes that this kind of thing, if true, is not bound to endear Microsoft to its managed service provider (MSP) partners even one little bit.

What’s Interesting About MMD?

The enabling technologies for this offering appear to be Microsoft 365 (a combination of the OS, Office 365, and some other odds and ends, offered on an annual, per-seat subscription basis) coupled with Microsoft’s recent experience in offering a variety of Surface-based hardware lease packages. Mix in some AutoPilot, InTune and existing cloud infrastructure bits and pieces, and this could indeed be a pretty compelling offering for organizations of many sizes and scales, from SMBs all the way up to enterprise class companies and other organizations of similar size and heft (think: US military, Britain’s National Health Service, and so forth).

What we’re seeing here is something of a reimagining of the way IT works. As long as MS can field staff to actually test and check stuff before deploying it into customer production environments, who better than the maker of the software (and in existing cases, the hardware, too) to make sure things are working properly and won’t hamper or otherwise negatively affect productivity? According to Sams, the positions in question are only opening up  in the US and in the UK, for what is apparently a pilot program. I’m sure he’s correct to speculate that should the program prove successful, it wouldn’t be long before other, similar jobs start showing up in other areas around the globe.

Great stuff! I’ll be curious to see if it materializes. And if it does, I’ll be even more curious as to what kinds of hardware options will be offered, at what kinds of monthly fees? Very interesting…

Author: Ed Tittel

Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran. He’s a Princeton and multiple University of Texas graduate who’s worked in IT since 1981 when he started his first programming job. Over the past three decades he’s also worked as a manager, technical evangelist, consultant, trainer, and an expert witness. See his professional bio for all the details.

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