Microsoft Managed Desktop plan turns Windows 10 device management over to Microsoft

The rumors were true: Microsoft's MMD service, which officially starts rolling out today, is a subscription service via which Microsoft provisions, deploys and manages companies' Windows 10 devices.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

In July, I wrote what I was hearing about Microsoft's new plan for managing corporate Windows 10 devices for a monthly fee. Today, September 17, Microsoft officially took the wraps off this service, which is branded "Microsoft Managed Desktop" (MMD).

Via MMD, Microsoft will provide business users with the option of having Microsoft manage their Windows 10 PCs. This means Microsoft will provide users with pre-configured Windows 10 PC hardware; ongoing Windows 10 feature updates, as well as security updates and other fixes; and overall management of those devices for a single, per-user monthly subscription fee. (The cost of this service will vary by user, based on size of the customer, type of device, etc.)

Also: Windows 10 how-to: Ed Bott's free tech support guide

Those who buy MMD will get Microsoft 365 Enterprise -- the combination of Windows 10 Enterprise, Office 365 and Enterprise Mobility + Security -- that is ready to run on Windows 10 devices which meet Microsoft's MMD specification and runtime quality bar. At first, qualifying devices will be Surface PCs only, but in the coming months, devices from HP, Dell and other PC makers will be offered as options, too, as long as they meet Microsoft's criteria.

Credit: Microsoft

As of today, Microsoft already is live with MMD with a small number of U.S. and U.K. customers who've been helping Redmond develop and test the service, officials said. Now availability is expanding, starting with the U.S. and U.K. In early 2019, the service will be available to customers in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. After that, Microsoft will expand to "several other geographies" in the second half of calendar 2019. Microsoft is telling customers interested in MMD to contact their local account managers for more information.

Also: Microsoft Windows U-turn removes warning about installing Chrome, Firefox CNET

Microsoft initially will be selling the MMD service directly, but has plans to work with reseller/integrator partners, moving forward, said General Manager Bill Karagounis, who is spearheading MMD.

Credit: Microsoft

Users whose companies opt for MMD will be able to take their PCs out of the box, enter their credentials, and have their devices automatically populated with preset security and management policies and required company apps. In a perfect world, no IT person will need to be involved in this set up and deployment process, as Microsoft will take over those functions, said Karagounis.

Also: Microsoft 365: A cheat sheet TechRepublic

Update: Thanks to a slide posted to Twitter by analyst Patrick Moorhead (which I've embedded above in my blog post), Microsoft also is committing to a three-year refresh cycle and next-day replacement of included devices, as well as security monitoring, 24 X 7 desktop support as part of the MMD offering.

Karagounis said he and his team, which are part of the Experiences and Devices unit, have been developing MMD since April. (The original working name for this service was "Modern Workplace as a Service," which some resellers have been using publicly as a marketing brand for this concept.)

Karagounis and team have been working with a number of customers and partners and have made "hundreds" of changes to Microsoft 365 in the process. These changes will be folded back into Microsoft 365 to improve it for business users, he said.

So, yes, Microsoft will also continue to offer Microsoft 365 (Enterprise, Business, Education, Firstline Worker, and other editions) as separate subscription services. Windows AutoPilot, Microsoft's service for setting up, resetting and deploying Windows 10 devices, also will still continue to be available separately. And just in case there's still any confusion, MMD is an option for corporate customers only; this is not a mandatory "Windows 365"-type service for consumers or business users.

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