Categories
Intune

Intune Suite – Exploring Enterprise App Management

Microsoft has now released all the parts they promised back in March of 2023. On the first of February, a lot of cool things saw the light of day without the preview label. We initially saw Endpoint Privilege Management and Remote Help as part of the Intune Suite, with Advanced Analytics, Cloud PKI, Enterprise App Management and Microsoft Tunnel for MAM.

In this post, we will focus on the Enterprise App Management feature which will help IT admins to keep their applications up to date by using a managed catalog of applications (much like SCAPMANN, PatchMyPC and such).

Before we begin. If you have never heard of the Intune Suite, it is a bundle of premium add-ons for Intune making it even more powerful by unlocking new functionality.

What is Enterprise App Management?

Enterprise App Management is a catalog of third-party applications, applications not developed by Microsoft, which is provided in a simple store-like manner in Intune. The catalog today consist of a little over 90 applications which are maintained by the Microsoft service, a list that will hopefully grow over time adding even more applications. The Enterprise App Management service takes care of both packaging the initial application but also managing any updates released fot the application, streamlining the work for the application team!

The concept behind this, is to ease the workload for application administrators not having to package all applications. The easiest way to position this is to think of it as a time saving tool, our packaging team won’t have to care about packaging the simpler applications which might be updated quite frequently. They can instead focus on the more unique and complex applications for the organisation.

Enterprise App Mangement comes in the Intune Suite bundle or can be purchased separately as a stand alone service. What is important to keep in mind here is to make sure you buy enough licenses to cover all your users since it’s licensed based on users in your environment.

How to get started?

Once you have made sure that you have the licenses for either the Intune Suite or Enterprise App Management (you can activate a 90 day trial in the licensing portal to test it out), you can use the new option in the App type for Windows in Microsoft Intune.

At the bottom you will see a new option, Enterprise App Catalog app, which is the Enterprise App Management service!

Once you have selected this as the app type, you will get a reminder that you need to obtain the correct licensing for the service.

When you add an application from the Enterprise App Catalog, it will be added as a Win32 app, but called Windows catalog app. To select your app, simply click “Search the Enterprise App Catalog“.

You will now see the full list of apps in a fly-out menu to the right where you can select the app you need.

In this example, we will select 7zip as the application we want to deploy. When we have chosen our app, we click “Next” at the bottom of the screen.

In the next step we can select which version of the app we need, for 7Zip there is only one version. Click “Select” at the bottom of the screen when you have chosen your version.

When we have chosen our application, the application information will be pre-populated. If you do not need to do any modifications to the app information, just click “Next” at the bottom of the screen.

You can now notice that the install- and uninstall command for the application has automatically been added, and also the return codes.

Next page is as always for Win32 apps the requirements where we can add any additional requirements we have identified. As you can see, the mandatory fields will be pre-populated and we can just move to the next step.

What I really like is that the service also add detections rules for the app. So just hit “Next” to move to the last step!

What is a bit different from adding your own applications is that you never add the assignments as part of this initial step. So last step is “Review and Create”. Once the application has been created, you will be able to add assignments to your app. Now click “Add app” to finish the process.

The app will now be created, which takes just a few seconds, not even enough time to go and refill that coffee cup you just finished!

Once the app has been added, you can add assignments just as any other app by going to Properties on the app and add your target groups.

Updating an application

Enterprise App Management is created to keep your applications updated. The service will utilize self-updating features of the applications where ever possible to minimize the effort from an admin side. If self-updating is enabled for the app, it will automatically be updated on the client.

If self-updating is not available for the app, a new version of the app will added with the needed superseedence relations for it to be replaced, mening that you will have both the new and the old version visible in Microsoft Intune.

Do you want to read more? Check out this Microsoft articles:

Categories
Windows 365

I hate computers

I’ve come to realize one thing lately.

I hate computers.

This will be a different post. But bare with me on this one, okay. It will make sense in the end (I hope).

My epiphany about hating computers happened when my lab machine all of a sudden decided that “I don’t have a bluetooth adapter anymore” after about 2 years of actually having one. I did about everything but reinstalling Windows on the machine, but the bluetooth adapter was not recognized by my computer. I even opened up the NUC to see if I could see if there was any obvious physical damage (I’m not an expert), but nothing.

THE DAY I decided that “fudge this, I’ll just reinstall it” it started working again. No new driver updates, no new patches. It just started working. I still have no clue what happened to be honest.

That was the moment I started hating computers.

I just want to be productive

Living without a functioning Bluetooth adapter in the computer meant that I needed to find the USB-receiver for ALL my wireless accessories (headset, mouse, keyboard) in order to even work from this machine.

This ment that I needed to take time out of my day (mostly late afternoons) and firstly try to figure out the issue and secondly since I suck at troubleshooting hardware, find all the USB receivers for all my stuff since I had of course also lost my USB Bluetooth receiver 🤦‍♂️.

I’m one of those computer guys who don’t really like troubleshooting, I just want stuff to work.

Reinstalling Windows is a breeze now adays, and it would have taken me an hour or two to be back up and running. I work from a strict policy to save EVERYTHING in the cloud so that wiping my computer isn’t an issue anymore, I will just lose what ever app I didn’t add to Intune. But it’s still a hick-up in my flow.

Automate drivers

This “incident” has gotten me thinking a bit. One thing I tend to hear with customers is that there is a fear to patch/update drivers for example, since we are afraid that it will break something in the OS or an application. I’ve been doing Intune work for the last 10 years, and I’ve strongly advocated to “maybe it’s time to also update drivers” for the past 7 years since it’s usually more risky to run pre-release versions of drivers than the latest. OEMs tend to also update drivers only when they have to, and the 700 million consumer Windows machines out there with the latest drivers seems to be working fine (don’t quote me on the numbers). One thing I’ve seen way to often is that an old driver breaks Microsoft Teams. The camera stops working usually and as soon as you install the latest driver. Poof! The camera works!

When you start think about it, what if we stopped caring so much about drivers and just automated it with Windows Autopatch? New drivers are installed when released and needed.

Windows 365 to the rescue?

Let’s take it one step further. What if we use Windows 365 to consume our apps and desktop experience instead and we only need to make sure that the OS and out applications are up to date. The hardware we are accessing through could be any kind of device, not neccesarily a Windows based device. Windows 365 makes it possible to actually be device independent. The bare minimum I need is something with a browser.

This is actually something which excites me a bit too much. I started my career in the mobile device management field, managing iPhone in the “mobile first” era when we though we would be able to do EVERYTHING from our mobile. If we can access a virtual desktop from our mobile, all of a sudden we actually can even consume those legacy Win32 apps from a mobile device.

I’m really excited about the Motorola ThinkPhone with the Windows 365 integration even though I don’t own one and I really don’t like Android since I’ve had an iPhone the last 15 years. But the idea of only having one device is something that excites me. Or at least in some situations only need one device. Still not enough to by the darn thing, but I love the concept of it.

So what is the point of this post?

Well, maybe we should start to rethink the workplace and what devices we need. Do I really need a desktop, a laptop, a phone and a tablet? Maybe not the reality for everyone but I know a lot of people running on such a setup. What if I just needed one or two devices, but I could still do all the stuff I need.

Looking at my current setup, I’ve downsized to one phone from two and I prioritized battery life over performance when getting a new laptop. I even went with an ARM-based Surface with the knowledge that “I can always use Windows 365 if I need more power” which is really comforting to know. This opens up that I can go for more slim formfactors and prioritize different aspects.

Moving the workloads to a Cloud PC would also reduce the need of getting the “latest and greatest” machine to do things. Our Cloud PC will be kept up to date since Microsoft is lifecycling the infrastructue in Azure, which for me as a user would mean that I always have “the best” configuration.

There are of course a lot of if’s and but’s around this, like the need for constant internet connetivity. But let’s face it, how often do we work without internet connectivity? You can even get some what reliable connectivity on an airplane today.

Problem with this appraoch is that this is how I reason, I still have way to many laptops on my desk for different customer engagements and testing things, since this is not the reality yet. But maybe it’s the future?

If you ever meet me and also hate computers, let me know and I’ll give you “I hate computers” sticker!

Categories
Intune

Copilot in Windows – How to turn it off using MS Intune

As everyone knows by now, Copilot is coming to Windows. For people in some parts of the world (e.g. USA) this is already a reality. But for us in Europe, we are still waiting for it to be made available.

I rarely write posts about how to disable things, I’m a fan of giving the power to the end-user to use the new awesome tools made available for them. But Copilot is a massive thing, and for many organizations this is both a legal/policy issue, and a technical readiness issue. We need to be able to provide our users with services in a controlled way.

Many of the larger organizations I’ve been working with over the years take this approach, enabling new services in a controlled way.

So, let’s look at how we can control this using Microsoft Intune. In this post, we will not dig into what Copilot for Windows is.

Creating a policy

As usual, my focus is on cloud solutions so we will look into how you can do this using Microsoft Intune and not GPOs.

Today, there is no Settings Catalog, so we need to rely on a Custom policy which we create by heading into the Device blade, choosing Windows > Configuration Profiles and select “+ Create” > “New policy“. Then we select Windows 10 and later as platform, and use Template > Custom as profile type.

As usual, start of by giving your profile a good name based on your naming convention.

Now, lets add a custom setting by pressing the “Add” button.

Add the following information to your custom entry:

Name: Disable Windows Copilot
Description: 
OMA-URI: ./User/Vendor/MSFT/Policy/Config/WindowsAI/TurnOffWindowsCopilot
Data type: Integer
Value: 1

Should look something like this and then hit save at the bottom of the fly out.

You have now successfully added a custom CSR setting.

Hit Next at the bottom of the screen and assign your policy to a user/device group. As always, if you are doing this in production, start with a test group before going for broad deployment.

For this demo purpose, I’ve added the built in “All users” group.

Skip the “Applicability rules” and head to “Review + Create” and review your profile before creating it. Once the profile has been created, the waiting game starts for the policy to apply. As usual, you can speed this up by pressing “Sync” on any of your devices that will be targeted.

When the policy has been applied, the Copilot icon will be removed from the task bar.

Doing a controlled roll-out

We have currently removed Copilot for all the users in your environment, but how do we start enabling it again?

Well, we need to do two things:

  • Create a group for our allowed users/devices
  • Exclude them from the policy we just created

Since the default value for the Windows Copilot feature is to be enabled, we don’t really need to add a new policy. We can just exclude our targeted users/devices. This also makes broad deployment easy since we can gradually just exclude users/devices until we want to enable it for everyone.

Please be aware that the change is not instant, the device needs to check-in before the policy is updated (but it’s fast when you do a forced sync).

Take away

So, would we disable this for all users and do a controlled roll-out? Well new features are not always easy for end-users to gasp or even understand that they have. People within IT tend to always want the latest and greatest and be early adopters. But “real” end-users are not always like that. We need to make sure that we can get information out to our end-users about this awesome new feature.

There might also be that we need to do some assessments around the service before we can enable it in our environment, this could be both legal and internal policy that is controlling this.

But as always, I really encourage you to enable this for your end-users once it’s available in your region. For us in Europe, we will have to wait a bit longer, but looking at the recent announcements around a Copilot-button on all Windows keyboards, I think we can really tell where we are heading with this.

So please, don’t just disable this for the sake of disabling. And if you do disable it, have a plan to enable it. It will bring awesome value to your end-users (especially if you have Microsoft 365 Copilot licenses).

Categories
Me

Wrapping up 2023

We are right at the end of 2023, getting ready for the holidays which is a great moment to wind down and reflect a bit on the last year. And it’s been a year full of awesome things!

Conferences

I didn’t actually go to that many conferences this year, I focused on two which I found really interesting.

MVP Summit

Okay, this is not open to everyone but I was truly humbled to be invited to the MVP Summit, the infamous event all MVPs talk so much about. This time it was apparently smaller than previous years, but it was still an awesome event! Met a lot of people I’ve only seen on stage, in calls or in social media. It was a blast!

WP Ninja Summit

I was really excited to be selected as a speaker at the WP Ninja Summit 2023. I was not to happy with my own performance however since one of my two session got really really short. But I was nervous, talked fast and maybe I didnt have as much content as I anticipated. The other one went really well however, and we had great discussions in the room!

I’m really happy that we have such a great, quite large, device focused event in Europe and that it’s not only MMS that gets all the attention. Microsoft had a lot of great speakers flying in, and there were also a lot of great speakers from the community showing up.

Really hoping to go back in 2024!

Windows, Windows 365 & Intune

We have seen a lot of cool stuff during 2023, so many innovations and news that I honestly have a hard time remembering them all.

For Windows 365 I’ve been most excited about the switch and boot features. Switch makes life so much easier using Windows 365 in the everyday work, easily switching context with Win + tab.

Windows 365 Boot is another great feature that I think we will see grow as time goes. We are heading in to a more sustainability focused market, which will result in that devices will have longer life. Windows 365 Boot is a great way to extend the life of a computer!

Personal development

Leadership training

One thing that I have for many years now found interesting and want to develop my skills within is leadership. I’ve been part of one training at a previous company I worked for, targeted at leaders without direct reports which was really interesting.

I’m currently taking part in a leadership program at my current employer where 12 people have been hand picked as potential leaders in the organization based on nominations from their closest manager. I feel really fortunate that I can be a part of this, but it has also made me realize that maybe I should explore other things than just being a techie.

I’ve often gotten the feedback that “you would be such a great manager” and looking back at the trainee program I was a part during my time at Microsoft we did get a lot of leadership training (even if it was never called that).

It will be exciting to see where this takes me!

Looking forward to 2024

I’m really excited about what 2024 will bring, both from a technology perspective but almost more from a personal development perspective.

2024 will probably be the year of AI and I’m curious to see how that will actually impact the whole device management and workplace service business. I’m suspecting that it will impact it quite a lot…

Categories
Windows 365

The new Windows app

Microsoft announced a new app to consume your Windows 365 Cloud PC, Azure Virtual Desktops, published apps and other remote desktop sessions. This app is simply called “Windows app”.

But we already have apps for this one might say, and that is true. But we need different apps for AVD and Windows 365 today. If you use the Microsoft Remote Desktop app you will be able to see and connect to both your Windows 365 Cloud PC, your Azure Virtual Desktops, and your published apps, but you will miss some key features to WIndows 365.

To get all those nice features for our Windows 365 Cloud PCs, we today must use the Windows 365 app.

If we look at how things are in many businesses, a lot of times we have a mix of Cloud PCs, AVDs and published apps. Today that means that we need to separate apps to get the full experience, which from a user perspective can be confusing since I will see my Cloud PCs in the Microsoft Remote Desktop app, but I won’t see my AVDs or published apps in the Windows 365 app.

The announcement at Microsoft Ignite around the new app is to bridge that gap and get everything into one app, the Windows app.

Before going forward, PLEASE be aware that this is still in preview. Things might change and be added/removed.

What is the Windows app?

Introducing the Windows app. This is your new place to consume all your remote desktop session!

The new Windows app brings all the awesome new features in Windows 365 and combines them with the Microsoft Remote Desktop features like support for AVD and published apps.

I think one of the killer features is also that now we will have the same app, across multiple platforms. Today you need to use one or two different apps on Windows, and a less full feature one on all the other platforms. But the new Windows app changes that!

Borrowed from MS Learn

Getting started!

The first thing you need to do, if you haven’t done so already, is to download the Windows 365 app from the Microsoft Store (or have it provisioned to you from e.g. Intune).

Once you are signed in, you will notice a small button in the top menu saying “Preview”. Click on that! If you cannot see the preview button, make sure your app is up to date!

Once you have enabled this, the app will close and the new one will launch (might take a second or two), and you will be asked to sign in again. Once you have signed in, you will now be in the new app experience!

Using the app

This is the new landing screen, to which you can pin your Cloud PCs, AVDs and published apps. And if I want to pin something to my home screen, I head into “Devices” and select the three dots on the resource I want to pin, then select “Pin to” and select “Pin to home“.

As you can see, all the other remote actions available in the Windows 365 app are also there so I can in the same menu do a restart, restore, inspect connection etc. And if I want to pin it to the task view or taskbar, I can do so from here.

But there is also a Microsoft Remote Desktop feature in this app which I was missing in the Windows 365 app; the possibility to not start the session in full screen. You find this by going to Settings on the machine in question and setting “Use default settings” to off. If you then select “Single display” in the Display configuration section, you will be able to turn off “Start in full screen“. If you jump back and forth or have a large screen, this is a really good feature.

You can of course also select your theme, if you want light mode or dark mode, or if you want the app to use whatever you are using in the operating system. Just click the settings icon in the lower left part of the app and select which mode!

And the last thing… The app supports multiple accounts so you can jump back and forth between tenants. Crucial feature for a consultant!

Other platform

Like I said, the app is today available for Windows, macOS, iOS/iPadOS and Android is still not yet released but it’s coming.

I’ve tested it on my iPhone, and to be honest the experience was way better than I anticipated.

One feature I really like is that when just leaving the app and having the desktop open, the session will continue when I come back without the need to re-connect.

The iOS app is a lot like the Microsoft Remote Desktop app in look and feel, but with a few improvements. I still can’t restart my Cloud PC from the app, but I can restore it if needed. However, it’s not a farfetched guess that it will come in a later release.

All the apps are still in preview, and if you want the iOS/iPadOS or macOS app, you will have to head over to Microsoft Learn and fins the links.

Bonus

What I haven’t covered is that there is also a new web portal, which has the same look and feel as the new Windows app.

The new address to the new web-app is https://windows.cloud.microsoft/. You can read more about it in the Microsoft Learn guide as well.

Categories
Modern Workplace

Microsoft Ignite 2023 recap

It’s that time of the year again. Not Christmas. Microsoft Ignite time!

This year I decided not to go to Seattle, but instead follow it virtually from home. I can say now when Microsoft Ignite is over that I’ve had a severe case of FOMO the last couple of days, by just seeing all the pictures it looked like it was a really awesome event!

But since MS Ignite is over, it means that it’s time for a recap. What did I find most interesting?

For starters. There was a clear theme this year. AI, AI, Copilot, Copilot and Copilot. 😂

Oh, and the picture in the top of this post is of course created using AI!

Windows 365

There was a bunch of new things released within Windows 365 at Ignite, and Windows 365 actually got time in the main keynotes!

New Windows app – A preview of a new app to support not only Windows 365 and Cloud PC, but to also give you all your Azure Virtual Desktops, DevBox and published apps in the same place. The cool thing is that it’s also platform independed so we will see the same experiance on all major platforms going forward. You be able to have a “Windows” app on your iPad.

Windows 365 GPU support – Microsoft announced that GPU support for graphic design work is coming to Windows 365, and this will really be great for a lot of customer scenarios! It will be really interesting to see the pricetag on the GPU SKU, I would kind of guess that you really need to have a good business case and not just have it’s because GPUs are cool…

Windows 365 AI capabilities – It was also announced that you as an IT admin will be able to get AI based recommendation on sizing the Cloud PCs. This to help improving cost efficiency and user sattisfaction. Preview will be released soon.

Single-sign on (SSO) and passwordless authentication – SSO and passwordless has for quite some time now been in preview in the Intune portal, but it’s not in general availability. This also applies to approved AVD providers!

Watermarking, screen capture protection, and tamper protection – in order to increase security and prevent dataloss, these features which have been in public preview for a while are now in general availablity on both Windows 365 and AVD.

Windows 365 Customer Lockbox – To ensure that Microsoft support engineers can’t access content to do service operations without explicit approval, you can use Customer Lockbox. This is similar to other Customer Lockbox within the Microsoft ecosystem. This is in public preview.

Windows 365 Customer Managed Keys – I think this is a pretty cool update. You will soon be able to use your own encryption keys for encrypting the Windows 365 Cloud PC disk.

Windows

Eventhough Microsoft Build is usually where we see most Windows news, there were a couple during Ignite this year.

Copilot in Windows – This was actually announced at the event earlier this fall and went in to public preview for selected markets on the 1st of November. During Ignite Microsot announced that it will go into general availablity in December, so let’s cross out fingers Europe is included!

Windows Autopatch for frontline workers– Windows Autopatch is not new, but Windows Autopatch is now included in the Microsoft 365 F3 subscription to ensure frontline workers are kept up to date.

Windows Autopilot and Windows Update for Business merging – Microsoft is streamlining the interface to handle updates

Microsoft Intune

There were a few big announcements for Microsoft Intune, and I would say the two biggest were around macOS management, Security Copilot in Intune and the Intune Suite.

MacOS management – Microsoft has for a while now been very loud about their story around macOS and Intune, and we are now starting to see the outcome of this. I wouldn’t say that there were that much news related to Ignite around this, but they were pushing for that Intune is now in the forefront of device management for Mac, which means that you no longer need to have Jamf or such to have extensive macOS management.

Security Copilot for Intune – As part of the Copilot and Ai journey we are on, Security Copilot will help you dentify annomolies or issues in your environment. It will help you analyze big chunks of data in no time to find security related events. But Security Copilot is more than that, it will also integrate in Microsoft Intune to help you create new policies or figure out how to solve issues that arrises. This will be such a great feature for many admins out there!

Microsoft Intune suite updates – Microsoft Intune Suite was announced back in March this year and has so far mostly been focues on Endpoint Privilegde Management and Remote Help. Microsoft has now announced three more features that are coming; Enterprise App Management, Advanced Analytics and Cloud PKI. These three additional services will make the Intune Suite bundle even better and are expected to all be available in February of 2024.

Summary

To be honest, this years focus at Ignite was Copilot. The word “Copilot” is mentioned 289 times in the book of news. That kind of set the tone for Ignite. Don’t get me wrong, I’m super excited for Copilot but this year was crazy!

Any how, lot of cool stuff coming out of Ignite this year and I think we will see things moving even faster now around AI since post-Ignite there has been some news around people from OpenAI joining Microsoft… What a time to be alive!

One thing that I take with me is that next year, I want to go to Seattle and be there in person. My feeds has been filled with Ignite related pictures and the FOMO has been real!

Categories
Intune Windows 365

Let’s move our Cloud PC!

I actually ran into this working with a customer. We had setup the Cloud PCs using an Azure Vnet in connected to the wrong landing zone (test environment) and we had 100+ Cloud PCs up and running and there was no possibility due to internal processes to move that network to the production environment.

This could also be relevant if you want to move a provisioning policy from one Microsoft hosted network region to another.

In this post we will cover how this looks when using Microsoft hosted networks, but they could just as well be Azure Network Connections. The beauty is that we don’t need to re-provision them, we can just update the provisioning policy!

Update provisning profile

Since we are moving from one Microsoft hosted network to another, we won’t need to do any updates outside the provisioning policy. If we are moving to another Azure Network Connection, we need to first create a new connector for our new network. This could be in the same subscription but be another subnet for example. Once you have created this, you can move on to updating the provisning policy.

So, the first step is to head into our provisioning policy. In this example we are updating our policy which is currently set up to use US East as a the region, but we want to move this to Europe instead.

What we need to do here is to update the geography and region in our policy, and of course also the name since I have the region in my policy.

Once I’ve done my updates to the region, I simply click next to the bottom of the screen, and I end up on the summary page where I as always get an overview of my policy. When I’m done reviewing this, I click Update.

But we are not done yet. We also need to apply this update to our machines, unless we do that this only applies to newly provisioned Cloud PCs, and we want to move all of them to the EU.

When we are back on the overview blade for our policy, there is a action at the top called “Apply current configuration”.

When we click on this text, we get prompted whit this pop-up asking us if we want to apply the region change or the SSO change. Since we didn’t make any SSO changes in this policy, things would happen, but this is a fantastic way to enable SSO for all your Cloud PCs without having to redeploy them. But let’s select the “Apply region change” and hit Apply.

Once you have applied the change, your Cloud PCs will start updating.

During the update, the Cloud PC will not be available since work is being done in the back end.

Once the move has been completed, which took about 10-15 minutes for me, you can sign back into the Cloud PC and keep using it in the new region!

Categories
Windows 365

Windows 365 Switch – The best feature so far?

Just after the summer, Microsoft announced that Windows 365 Switch was available for public preview. And to be honest, this is probably my favorite feature so far, and makes using the Cloud PC a lot easier!

Back at Microsoft Ignite in 2022, the product team announced three major features coming to Windows 365:

  • Windows 365 Boot
  • Windows 365 Switch
  • Windows 365 in offline mode

Back in May, Windows 365 Boot was available as public preview and since the beginning of August, Windows 365 Switch is also available to start testing!

Today, to use Windows 365 Switch, there are some pre-requisites:

  • Windows 11 Insider (Dev or Beta is supported) on you local PC and your Cloud PC
  • The Windows 365 app
  • Windows 365 licenses

You of course also need provisioning policies and so on to be able to provision your Cloud PC, if you want to learn how that is done you can check out this post.

Setting up Windows Insider

There are different ways to enable Windows Insider on you device depending on how your setup is. You can do it directly from the Settings app under Windows Update, but I will show you how to configure this through Microsoft Intune, since this is probably the more common scenario to onboard devices in to Windows Insider in a larger environment.

What you need to do is to create a update policy for the Windows Insider program releases in Microsoft Intune to enable this feature. You can of course also update your current policies to allow Insider builds.

Go to Microsoft Intune and navigate to the Device section and find Update rings for Windows 10 and later. Create a new profile by clicking “+ Create profile“.

Give your new profile a name and click next.

Configure the profile to match your needs when it comes to the generic settings, in this example I will leave it to default. The important setting is “Enabled pre-release builds“. Enable that and select either the Beta or Dev channel (both are supported for Windows 365 Switch).

Add a group of devices you want to include for the Windows Insider Dev channel. Make sure to include both the local PC and the Cloud PC in this group. Click Next.

Review your settings and create the policy by pressing Create.

Note: You can also update any of your existing policies to allow pre-release builds. What I’ve done in my lab environment is to allow this in my test ring in Windows Autopatch and move any machine I want to enable this on into the test-ring.

Opting in for Windows Insider builds

The updates are not automatically enforced on the client, it enables the user to opt in to the program, the user needs a Windows Insider Program account. You can read all about it here: Getting started with the Windows Insider Program (microsoft.com).

Easiest way to get started is to search the start menu for Windows Insider and open the “Windows Insider Programme settings”. This has to be done on both the local PC and the Cloud PC to opt in to Windows Insider.

First time user opens the settings blade, they will need to press the “Get started” button inorder to link an account to the Windows Insider program.

When the account has been linked, user will see what channel they have been added to. Since we are managing this setting from Intune, all the alternatives has been grayed out and the “Dev Channel” is selected, since that is the one we configured.

One you have opted in for Windows Insider builds, head over to Windows Update and run the update. You will see Windows Insider build as an update which will start to download.

IMPORTANT: Perform these steps on both your local PC and your Cloud PC.

The Windows 365 app

The next step is to make sure that we have the Windows 365 app installed on our local machine. This can be done either by deploying it from Microsoft Intune or downloading it from the store.

Easier way is to simply download it from the store.

Once you have installed the Windows 365 app, the wait begins. Things needs to be configured and happen in the background. This normally takes a few hours, so don’t give up if its not there right away!

Once Windows 365 Switch has been configured for you, you will get a new option on your Cloud PC called “Add to taks view”.

When you select this, you will see a ribbon on the Cloud PC you selected this on that it has been added to the task view.

Now when you open the Task View, from either the task bar or win + tab, you will see your Cloud PC as a desktop.

When you select the Cloud PC for the first time, the connection will be setup and you will have to wait while it’s connecting.

Once this initial connection has been done, you will be able to switch back and forth as this would have been just another desktop from within your Cloud PC.

Categories
Digital Transformation Intune Windows 365

Back from vacation – what did we miss?

Like the swede I am, I’ve been off work for the last 4 weeks to get my summer vacation. I’ve actually done my best to try to stay away from IT stuff this summer, to disconnect and focus on other things (like golf and getting our house in order).

But the world of IT does not slow down just because of summer, so here is a summary of some of the highlights that I missed during my time off!

I got renewed as MVP

Okay, this I already knew before the summer. But I was awarded for my 2nd year as an MVP within Windows and Devices for IT. I’m truly honored to be awarded for yet another year and being part of such a cool community of awesome people!

Ola Ström | Most Valuable Professionals (microsoft.com)

I will be speaking at WPNinja Summit

I was picked to do two session at the WPNinja Summit in Baden, Switzerland, the 27th to 29th of September.

I will do one session about Windows 365 networks and one about how to do better deployments of Windows 365.

I’m really looking forward to this and I hope to see you all there!

Windows 365 Switch in public preview

At Microsoft Ignite 2022, Microsoft introduced three big new features coming to Windows 365. In May, Windows 365 Boot reached public preview as the first of the three. Now in August, the second and maybe my favorite, Windows 365 Switch reached public preview!

Windows 365 Switch lets you switch between your physical PC and your Cloud PC through the task viewer, just like the other desktops you can have. It’s a really cool feature and I will cover this in a blogpost the upcoming weeks!

You can read more about it in the official Microsoft blogpost found here: Windows 365 Switch now available in public preview – Microsoft Community Hub

Windows 365 Frontline released

This was actually announced before I left for summer vacation, but Windows 365 Frontline finally reached general availability!

For those of you not familiar with this concept, this is a different licensing modell designed for scenarios where the users are not using their device all the time, user who work in shift where you have users coming an going. The concept is that you buy one license, but you get three Cloud PCs but only one can be used at the time.

It sounds a little bit tricky, I know, but I covered this in an earlier blog post which you can have a look at.

Read more about it in the Microsoft blogpost: Windows 365 Frontline is now generally available | Windows IT Pro Blog (microsoft.com)

What’s new in Windows 365?

Windows 365 got some other great updates during the summer as well as Microsoft released a lot of new features in both July and August.

Some of the new features released was:

  • Move Cloud PC is now generally available
  • New setting to allow users to reprovision their own Cloud PC
  • Azure network connection (ANC) least privilege update
  • Provide feedback button for admins is now generally available
  • Windows 365 web client camera support (preview)
  • Group-based license support for Cloud PC resizing
  • Windows 365 app update notifications for users

You can read more in details here about the new features: What’s new in Windows 365 Enterprise | Microsoft Learn

Windows 11 23h2 release update

Microsoft released new information about the Windows 11 23h2 update coming later this year. It is currently scheduled to be released in Q4 and will be released as an enablement package. This means that there are no big changes coming to the code base of Windows 11, and you can keep doing you testing on Windows 11 22h2 if you are still transitioning over to Windows 11.

Microsoft also mentions a Windows 11 LTSC version in this update, which means that if you are waiting for that release, you can start preparing.

Windows client roadmap update: July 2023 – Microsoft Community Hub

What’s new in Intune?

As per usual, Microsoft Intune has gotten it’s weekly updates during the summer. I think the most impactful update was the fact that uninstalling applications as an end-user in Company Portal is FINNALLY available! I know this has been something a lot of IT Pros has been waiting for. There are also a lot of new stuff in the 2307 Service release.

Some highlights:

  • Uninstall Win32 and Microsoft store apps using the Windows Company Portal
  • Use the Turn off the Store application setting to disable end user access to Store apps, and allow managed Intune Store apps
  • New BitLocker profile for Intune’s endpoint security Disk encryption policy
  • Intune supports new Google Play Android Management API
  • Change to default settings when adding Windows PowerShell scripts
  • New settings available for the iOS/iPadOS web clip app type
  • Settings insight within Intune Security Baselines is generally available
  • Tamper protection support for Windows on Azure Virtual Desktop
  • Endpoint Privilege Management support to manage elevation rules for child processes

What’s new in Microsoft Intune | Microsoft Learn

Screen capture protection and watermark

During the summer Microsoft updated how you can enable screen captrue protection and watermarks for Windows 365 (and Azure Virtual Desktop).

Previously, you had to upload a custom ADMX template to enable these settings (or GPO), but they have now been made available in the built-in ADMX profile in Intune, making this setting much more accessible.

I will cover this more in a future blog post

Azure Virtual Desktop Watermarking Support – Microsoft Community Hub

Screen capture protection in Azure Virtual Desktop – Azure | Microsoft Learn

Microsoft Inspire 2023

During the summer, Microsoft also held their Inspire conference which is usually more targeted towards partners, but there was a lot of good stuff announced and shared during the conference.

Check out the main keynote here: Microsoft Inspire Keynote

Any also the rest of the sessions: Session catalog (microsoft.com)

Categories
Windows 365

Boot directly to your Cloud PC

Windows 365 Boot was first announced at Ignite in 2022, but no dates were announced at that point.

But now it has finally happened! Windows 365 Boot is in public preview and ready for you to test! There is, however, at the time being a need to use Windows 11 Insider Preview for this to work.

Windows 365 Boot is a concept which is exactly what it sounds like, the possibility to boot your physical PC straight into your Cloud PC. One could almost argue that this is a Windows take on a thin client concept but based on Windows 11 instead of some Linux distribution. We will see where this will take us in the future, but I can see a lot of cool scenarios for this combined with Windows 365 Frontline!

A while back, I wrote a post about creating a shared Windows 365 kiosk setup for Windows 10 or Windows 11, a poor man’s Windows 365 boot for impatient administrators. But now we have the real thing, so let’s set it up!

Setting up boot to cloud

The simplest way to setup Windows 365 Boot is to use the Microsoft provided guided scenario, which can be found here.

The guided scenario will help you create all policies and profiles you will need for this but do keep in mind that you still need to create your Windows 365 provisioning policy!

The first step in the guided scenario will give you an overview of what will be done and what it’s used for. If you have ever used guided scenarios before, this will be a familiar experience!

On the next step, we will add a prefix for our policies. This would typically be something you use in your naming convention. Please be aware that Microsoft only allows you to set the prefix of the names, not the whole policy name. If you want to change this to follow your naming convention, you will need to do that manually once everything has been created.

Next step is to set how updates should be handled. I’ve just added 0 on all values for days and gone with the default active hours, but this would typically reflect your normal patching/upgrade cadence.

On the next step, we can add some additional settings. I’ve just added a Wi-Fi profile, but you can add a VPN profile if needed as well. The last step on this tab is to select the language/region. I’ve selected to go with the operating system default that I have on the device I will deploy to.

On the last step before the automated creation starts, we will take care of assignments. You can either create a new group or use an existing group (please give us this feature in the other assignment flows Microsoft!). I’ve selected to create a new one called All W365 BtC Devices.

Once we have reviewed our settings, the deployment of policies, profiles and groups will start. You can follow and monitor the deployment (much like in Azure). For me, this was a fast process.

Getting the client ready!

As I mentioned, you need Windows 11 Insider Preview to be able to use Windows 365 Boot. You can either upgrade your machine manually or use Intune to upgrade your machine to the Insider Preview Dev channel.

You can modify the update policy created to allow the Insider Preview Dev channel for your Windows 365 Boot machine (please keep in mind that this is a preview) or you can create a new policy for this. What you are looking to enable is the following.

To upgrade your machine manually to Windows Insider Preview, go to Settings > Windows Update > Windows Insider Program and opt in for insider builds on the machine.

ATTENTION!!

Don’t forget to add your devices to the group you assigned your Windows 365 Boot policies to, otherwise nothing will happen!

What I’ve also found is that you need to reset your device for this to work to 100%. At least my clients, if not reset, are not able to connect to the Cloud PCs. So hot tip!

The experience

When our computer is running Windows 11 Insider Preview and has gotten all out new Intune policies and profile, the magic will happen!

When the computer boots, it will take you to the Windows 365 Boot sign in page instead of the regular Windows sign in. From here, you will sign straight into your Cloud PC instead of your local PC!