Previous Blogs

September 18, 2018
AI Application Usage Evolving Rapidly

September 11, 2018
The Many Paths and Parts to 5G

September 4, 2018
Tech Content Needs Regulation

August 28, 2018
Survey: Real World AI Deployments Still Limited

August 21, 2018
Nvidia RTX Announcement Highlights AI Influence on Computer Graphics

August 14, 2018
The Shifting Nature of Technology at Work

August 7, 2018
The Beauty of 4K

July 31, 2018
The Future of End User Computing

July 24, 2018
5G Complexity to Test Standards

July 17, 2018
California Data Privacy Law Highlights Growing Frustration with Tech Industry

July 10, 2018
Dual Geographic Paths to the Tech Future

July 3, 2018
The Changing Relationship Between People and Technology

June 12, 2018
The Business of Business Software

June 5, 2018
Siri Shortcuts Highlights Evolution of Voice-Based Interfaces

May 29, 2018
Virtual Travel and Exploration Apps Are Key to Mainstream VR Adoption

May 22, 2018
The World of AI Is Still Taking Baby Steps

May 15, 2018
Device Independence Becoming Real

May 8, 2018
Bringing Vision to the Edge

May 1, 2018
The Shifting Enterprise Computing Landscape

April 24, 2018
The "Not So" Late, "And Still" Great Desktop PC

April 17, 2018
The Unseen Opportunities of AR and VR

April 10, 2018
The New Security Reality

April 3, 2018
Making AI Real

March 27, 2018
Will IBM Apple Deal Let Watson Replace Siri For Business Apps?

March 20, 2018
Edge Servers Will Redefine the Cloud

March 13, 2018
Is it Too Late for Data Privacy?

March 6, 2018
The Hidden Technology Behind Modern Smartphones

February 27, 2018
The Surprising Highlight of MWC: Audio

February 20, 2018
The Blurring Lines for 5G

February 13, 2018
The Modern State of WiFi

February 6, 2018
Wearables to Benefit from Simplicity

January 30, 2018
Smartphone Market Challenges Raise Major Questions

January 23, 2018
Hardware-Based AI

January 16, 2018
The Tech Industry Needs Functional Safety

January 9, 2018
Will AI Power Too Many Smart Home Devices?

January 2, 2018
Top Tech Predictions for 2018

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2015 Blogs

2014 Blogs

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TECHnalysis Research Blog

September 25, 2018
Microsoft and Partners Evolve the Modern Enterprise Desktop

By Bob O'Donnell

The concept of a business PC and the digital environment it enabled used to be pretty easy to understand. You bought a PC from a vendor like Dell, HP, or Lenovo, installed a copy of Windows and a copy of Microsoft Office on it, connected it to the network, and you were basically done.

Today, however, there is an enormous array of different solutions to bring that same type of functionality to life for the modern business worker. From different types of buying, leasing, and hardware “as a service” business models for physically acquiring the PC, to several means of delivering the Windows desktop to a given device, to multiple choices of productivity suites and means of interacting with documents created with those tools, the modern enterprise desktop has become a surprisingly complex topic.

At the recent Microsoft Ignite event in Orlando, FL, the company provided yet more ways to deliver a digital workspace experience to today’s devices. First, Microsoft joined the growing movement of companies offering physical devices as a service with their Microsoft Managed Desktops solution. Like other device-as-a-service (DaaS) offerings from the big PC vendors, the Microsoft solution provides access to branded hardware products and cloud-based support and device management services for a monthly fee. Initially, the company is offering their own Surface Pros, but eventually they plan to make other PC brands available as well. In addition, Microsoft is providing some important (though likely expensive) differentiation by also bundling Microsoft 365, which includes Windows, Office 365, and integrated security features, as well as ongoing support for all that software, as part of the package.

For those who already have the PCs they need and prefer a virtual desktop offering, the company also launched Windows Virtual Desktop, which includes licenses for Windows 10 and Office 365 bundled together and hosted on the cloud by Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing platform. This is the company’s first VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure) initiative under their own brand, and it delivers a secure and managed Windows desktop to whatever PCs a company has connected. Unfortunately, the industry has fallen into the naming trap of also calling this DaaS, but in this context, it means Desktop-as-a-Service, which is entirely different (though conceptually related) to the other Device-as-a-Service. In both cases, companies are getting access to a Windows desktop for their employees, but through entirely different means. Needless to say, this naming issue is a serious challenge that can trip up IT professionals, vendors, and industry observers who often end up talking in circles before they recognize the confusion.

Despite the naming issues, however, the fact that Microsoft is now offering their own version of a managed Windows desktop via the cloud is actually a big step forward for the company and the whole concept of virtualized computing models. Many companies have large investments not only in Microsoft software, but also service and support relationships, and this new offering will give companies yet another option for moving some of the tedium of desktop management, updating, etc., to a partner like Microsoft.

In the process of developing this solution, the company was careful not to cut out partners, such as Citrix, who have had desktop-as-a-service offerings for some time. In fact, Citrix just announced a new partnership with Microsoft that extends from being a Microsoft certified Cloud Services Provider through a variety of channel and service offerings. As part of it, they will offer a new version of Citrix Workspace that builds on Microsoft’s Windows Virtual Desktop offering. In addition, they will be developing a new DaaS solution that leverages Windows Virtual Desktop but also includes Citrix’ extended capabilities for multi-device support, app virtualization, app management, desktop management, and integration with other Citrix tools.

On the Office side of the desktop experience, Microsoft announced a number of important new initiatives that add more contextual intelligence and overall smarts to the applications.
While it’s hard to imagine finding new capabilities that don’t already exist in the feature-laden MS Office suite, the all-inclusive search capabilities delivered via Microsoft Search, as well as the AI-driven Ideas functions look to be attractive new add-ons for most users. Integrating enterprise-wide search across Office 365 lets users get access not only to files, but even elements of files, such as charts and data, that can be incorporated into their own documents, which can be a huge help in many organizations.

Ideas builds on the concepts found in the AI-powered Designer feature introduced in PowerPoint last year and helps make suggestions not just on elegant designs, but spelling, consistencies, and other details that just make using the applications feel smarter. I’ve been an active user of Designer, and I look forward to how the Ideas instantiation of the concept extends the capabilities even further.

In addition, Microsoft has incorporated Ideas into Excel by adding what look to be some very clever new capabilities that can look for patterns and anomalies in data. For those of us who work with large sets of data, these capabilities can be both incredibly powerful and tremendous time savers.

Altogether, the combination of new ways to deliver Windows and Office experiences in easier (and smarter) ways adds up to a surprisingly useful set of additions to what many often perceive as a very slow-moving market. They also highlight how the combination of the cloud and AI are extending their influence well beyond more esoteric applications of the technology into our day-to-day computing experiences. From my perspective, that’s definitely an important step forward for us all.

Here's a link to the column:
https://techpinions.com/microsoft-and-partners-evolve-the-modern-enterprise-desktop/53719

Bob O’Donnell is the president and chief analyst of TECHnalysis Research, LLC a market research firm that provides strategic consulting and market research services to the technology industry and professional financial community. You can follow him on Twitter @bobodtech.

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