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Microsoft Combines SCCM, Intune in New Microsoft Endpoint Manager

Microsoft is rebranding its main client management tools, the company announced Monday at its Ignite conference in Orlando, Fla.

A new service called "Microsoft Endpoint Manager" brings together System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) and the Microsoft Intune mobile management service. The combination of these two device management tools appears to be more than just a rebrand, however. For instance, Microsoft Endpoint Manager also includes "Device Management Admin Center (DMAC) and Desktop Analytics" solutions, as well as the "comanagement" feature for managing devices using SCCM or Intune. In addition, Microsoft is planning to add "intelligent actions" to it.

"Microsoft Endpoint Manager is the convergence of Intune and ConfigMgr functionality and data -- plus new intelligent actions -- offering [a] seamless, end-to-end management solution without the complexity of a migration or disruption to productivity," explained Brad Anderson, corporate vice president of Microsoft 365, in the announcement.

With the announcement of Microsoft Endpoint Manager, Microsoft signaled a change in direction on its advice to organizations with respect to Microsoft client device management products. A couple of years ago, Microsoft had introduced a "comanagement" capability that permitted organizations to domain-join client devices and use either SCCM or Intune to manage them. It was conceived by Microsoft as a way to help organizations transition to Intune. However, in the Monday announcement, Anderson claimed that scenario wasn't so clear, and that comanagement is not just a transition tool.

"So, let me be very clear -- this vision includes both ConfigMgr and Intune," Anderson wrote. "Co-management isn't a bridge; it's a destination."

Anderson also briefly described some coming simplifying licensing changes, although details weren't described. They'll be available in "the coming months." Here's how those licensing changes were characterized:

To make this easier for you as well, we're also announcing today that we're simplifying licensing, and we are making the licensing to Intune available to all ConfigMgr customers to co-manage your Windows devices. If you would like to manage non-Windows devices through Microsoft Endpoint Manager, you will need to purchase either an Intune license, an Enterprise Mobility & Security (EMS) license, or a Microsoft 365 E3 or higher license.

Microsoft Endpoint Manager scenarios for SCCM users and Intune users are further discussed in this other announcement by Anderson. In it, he also talked a lot about the "modern workplace" and "modern management," which apparently involve Microsoft 365 solutions and the use of cloud-based intelligence.

Windows Virtual Desktop and Linux Support
The Windows Virtual Desktop service, which provides virtual desktop infrastructure for accessing the Windows 7 or Windows 10 Multisession operating systems and applications, now works with Linux devices, including "iOS, MacOS and HTML5," according to Anderson's post.

The support for Linux devices is happening though IGEL, one of Microsoft's hardware partners. Microsoft is building a software development kit (SDK) to expand Linux device support for the Windows Virtual Desktop service.

Microsoft currently has a preview available (enrollment required) of MSIX App Attach. It's a way to streamline adding applications used with the Windows Virtual Desktop service by storing the applications outside virtual machines as packages. Microsoft is currently developing documentation on MSIX App Attach and has an Ignite session on the topic, as mentioned in this Ask Microsoft Anything session.

Microsoft 365 Admin Center Improvements
The Global Reader role of Azure Active Directory, previewed earlier this month, is now at the "general availability" commercial release stage. It's like the Global Administrator role in Office 365 except it just has read-only privileges. It's designed to help organizations with audits and investigations, while limiting the ability to make changes.

Microsoft also has a Groups Administrator role in Azure Active Directory. Office 365 Groups additions include "support for sensitivity labels," as well as "activity-based renewal and expiration."

The Microsoft 365 Admin Center also includes a Compare Roles feature that helps IT pros figure out which roles to assign. It'll compare up to three roles together, showing the various permissions associated with each role, according to another Microsoft announcement.

Microsoft added templates to the Microsoft 365 Admin Center, which can be used for easier configurations when end users share attributes. Microsoft added a "Report an Issue" button to the Service Health Dashboard in the Microsoft 365 Admin Center. The center also includes a link to Azure Cloud Shell for using PowerShell with Azure services. Currently, Azure Cloud Shell provides access to Exchange Online and Teams PowerShell modules.

Microsoft is previewing a "What's New" feature in the Microsoft 365 Admin Center that will show coming Office 365 features. IT pros can use it to either send the information to end users or hide it. It's planned for general availability early next year.

Other Announcements
Anderson said that Microsoft is planning to publish its best practices for desktop management as derived from what it has learned from its Microsoft Managed Desktop customers. The Microsoft Managed Desktop service, where Microsoft acts as a managed service provider and takes over a desktop management role of IT, got started last year.

A preview program for "enterprise network insights and network score" within the Microsoft 365 Admin Center will start in Q1 2020, according to an announcement, which has a link to sign up. The program is designed to help larger organizations with multiple office locations deal with network connectivity issues that affect end users. Microsoft will have an Ignite session on the topic, too.

Desktop App Assure, Microsoft's FastTrack program to address application incompatibility issues with Windows 10 upgrades and Office 365 migrations, has been renamed and is now called "App Assure." In addition, the program has been extended to the Microsoft Edge browser and the Windows Virtual Desktop service.

App Assure support for the new Chromium-based Edge browser will happen when that browser reaches general availability, slated for Jan. 15. Currently, the Edge browser is at the "release candidate" stage for both Windows and macOS, The Edge browser now sports a new claw-like logo, signifying "waves of innovation." Microsoft has already released security baselines for the new Edge browser, which are at the preview stage.

Microsoft also issued a private preview of a new service to ease Teams meeting room management called "Meeting Rooms." It's described as a "cloud-based IT management and security monitoring service that ensures that Teams meeting rooms are secured, up to date, and proactively monitored for a great in-room experience."

Microsoft is also offering a private preview of Productivity Score for Microsoft 365 users, which assesses the productivity of people and technology in organizations.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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