Where's Microsoft 365 Headed Next? The Managed Desktop
Microsoft’s 365 suite is the company’s latest play into offering its products as a service, rather than a one-time license. Following on the massive success of Office 365, Microsoft 365 brings into the fold Windows, device management, and security to be a complete solution for a company’s ‘modern office’ requirements.
But where is the service heading next? While Microsoft doesn’t reveal its plans publicly, the company’s job postings often give us hints about what’s coming down the pipeline.
A few days ago, Microsoft posted several new open positions that highlight that the company is gearing up to launch a Managed Desktop service or MMD. The job description states “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).”
Say Goodbye to Traditional PC Lifecycle Management
Traditional IT tools, including Microsoft SCCM, Ghost Solution Suite, and KACE, often require considerable custom configurations by T3 technicians (an expensive and often elusive IT resource) to enable management of a hybrid onsite + remote workforce. In many cases, even with the best resources, organizations are finding that these on-premise tools simply cannot support remote endpoints consistently and reliably due to infrastructure limitations.
The posting goes on to state that those who are hired for this role will use their learnings to “influence the Go to market strategy of this new and exciting service”.
Managed desktop services typically provide remote support for software and in this case, it’s likely related to Office and Windows for the end-user. It wouldn’t surprise me if this was limited to Surface hardware initially but also will eventually support OEM hardware as well. Further, a service like this typically involves a substantial investment which means that the company is likely gearing up for a broader launch possibly later this year.
Up until now, Microsoft had typically relied on Managed Service Providers (MSPs) for this functionality and washed their hands of digging this deep into the role of providing remote support. If this pilot program does make its way to general availability, I would expect many of the company’s MSP to be less than pleased by this new offering from Microsoft.
Pricing will also be a key aspect of how well, or poorly, this new service is received by the market. The job posting makes no indication of what the per-user fee will be but I suspect that the company will happily bundle this service in with other products to create a competitive package that is cheaper than the sum of its parts.
As of the time of this posting, this position is only showing up for positions in the United States as well as the United Kingdom. If this pilot program, as I’m told, is a success, fully expect it to roll-out to other regions in the near future.