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IT Lab Group Now Offers Support for the Microsoft Managed Desktop Service

London-based IT Lab Group announced late last month that it's now an authorized partner for the Microsoft Managed Desktop service.

The IT Lab Group, a provider of IT support for organizations, as well as a managed services provider (MSP), will support Microsoft's service globally. IT Lab Group had "helped to develop the business case for Microsoft Managed Desktop," according to Peter Sweetbaum, IT Lab's CEO, in the announcement.

Microsoft Takes Over IT Roles
The Microsoft Managed Desktop service is still fairly new, but it already has a portal page that advertises the service. The idea is that Microsoft will take over the IT roles of client device provisioning and patching, as well as application updates, via its cloud services. The service is supposed to free IT personnel from the drudgery of having to maintain Windows 10 devices, as well as Office 365 ProPlus updating, although it's typically for organizations willing to go all-in with top-tier Microsoft 365 licensing.

Here's a description of the Microsoft Managed Desktop service from a Microsoft e-book (PDF):

With Windows as a service and Office as a service, we take on the job of rolling out monthly quality updates and semiannual updates so your IT team doesn't have to. In-place upgrades mean user apps, settings, and data will be preserved during updates.

Beyond last month's IT Lab Group announcement, not much has been announced about the Microsoft Managed Desktop service. The service was described in September of last year as just being used by some U.K. and U.S. customers, with a planned program expansion in Australia, Canada and New Zealand expected to occur in the second half of 2019.

In April 2019, Bill Kargounis, general manager at Microsoft, announced a blog site devoted to the Microsoft Managed Desktop service. He said in that announcement that Microsoft had "refined our strategy and added to our service offering" in the last several months. However, he didn't add any clarity about the service's availability. Kargounis apparently is the person in charge of spearheading the Microsoft Managed Desktop service.

Partner Roles
Despite the description that Microsoft manages an organization's Windows 10 devices and Office applications under the Microsoft Managed Desktop service, Microsoft's partners appear to have key roles. They're largely involved in supporting the service, as illustrated in the following slide from a May 2019 partner briefing:

[Click on image for larger view.] Partner responsibilities (shown in blue) under the Microsoft Managed Desktop program. (Source: May 2019 partner briefing slide deck)

Under the program, Microsoft manages devices, monitors security, deploys applications (Office 365 ProPlus), updates software and runs desktop analytics. Optionally, Microsoft will provide IT support, according to this partner page description of Microsoft Managed Desktop.

Requirements
Organizations wanting to use the Microsoft Managed Desktop service are required to have Microsoft 365 E5 licensing in place for their users.

The Microsoft 365 E5 licensing gives organizations the rights to use certain required software, such as Windows 10, Office 365 ProPlus, Azure Active Directory (which can be synced to Active Directory on-premises), the Microsoft Intune mobile management service, the Desktop Analytics service, the Windows Autopilot device provisioning service and the Microsoft Threat Protection service, according to Microsoft's portal page.

Microsoft Managed Desktop users also need to use Exchange Online for e-mail, SharePoint Online for file access and OneDrive for Business for data backup and recovery. Organizations also are required to use Microsoft Surface computers or approved devices from original equipment manufacturers, such as Dell and HP.

About the Author

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

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