Enhancing the Intune Experience With Managed Home Screen

All the devices and applications that we use need both security and feature updates now and again to ensure that we always get the best possible performance. Whether these are personal or work devices, without regular improvements, the performances will eventually not be good enough to meet our requirements.

One of the platforms that helps to optimize the user experience is Managed Home Screen. Using this feature can deliver a better experience. Within the Intune environment, all users with enrolled devices as Android Enterprise dedicated devices can benefit.

In this article, we’ll be taking a look at what Managed Home Screen is and how it can improve workflows.

What is Managed Home Screen?

With Managed Home Screen, users get an Android application that is compatible on devices enrolled into Intune as Android Enterprise dedicated devices. The application means to cover corporate-owned devices that are running in multi-app kiosk mode.

On these devices, Managed Home Screen acts as the launcher for other approved apps to run on top of it. The benefit to IT admins is greater control over the customization of devices, as well as being able to restrict the capabilities that the end user can access. The availability of these features means that your business can:

  • Easily maintain control over how these devices work. The customization and control you have over the Android devices allows you to determine specifically what users can access.
  • Enhance the user experience by establishing a consistent and simplified experience across device types and OEMs that makes it significantly easier to perform all tasks to a high standard.
  • Gain access to all the relevant troubleshooting workflows that one would need to fix issues on-device. Or provide Microsoft support with the necessary tools to troubleshoot issues on-device.
  • Utilize an improved sign-in and sign-out experience with a device configured with Shared device mode.

Customization benefits

Additionally, the availability of customization will allow you to completely modify the overall appearance and feel of your home screen.

You can do things such as:

  • Set a custom wallpaper that can truly bring your branding to the fore. Or, you could use the custom wallpaper as a visual indicator to distinguish various devices.
  • You can relocate applications to the home screen so you have your important and most frequently used apps in a place that facilitates easy access. Not only that, but this can help you design a setup that is consistent across devices for your users.
  • Those who may have plenty of apps on the home screen can easily simplify things by categorizing apps into specific folders.
  • Because devices can have varying screen sizes, you’ll also get the option to modify the size of apps and folders appearing on the home screen.
  • To get even quicker access to vital app data, you can add custom widgets to the home screen.
  • When a device is inactive, you can set a screen saver to hide the home screen.

Dedicated devices

We just mentioned that Managed Home Screen is usable on devices enrolled into Intune as Android Enterprise dedicated devices. But, what exactly are ‘dedicated devices’? This term simply refers to corporate-owned devices not associated with a particular user. Additionally, these devices will normally be in use for performing specific tasks.

So, if you want to enroll Android devices with no user-affinity then this option will suit you. However, it’s also important to note that Intune’s Android Enterprise dedicated device solution will require that the devices run Android OS 8+ and be able to connect to Google Mobile Services (GMS).

Setting up Managed Home Screen

Setting up your device with Managed Home Screen is a process that will take several steps. But, once you have a device that meets the requirements, you can begin.

Setting up an Intune enrollment profile and device group

Start by creating an enrollment profile to generate an enrollment token first, and attach it to a device group. In the Endpoint Manager admin center, navigate over to  Devices > Android > Android enrollment > Corporate-owned dedicated devices. You’ll need to fill in the Name but filling in the Description is optional. After this, select Type. Be sure to select Corporate owned dedicated device with Azure AD shared mode if you expect that your devices may require users to access M365 applications, other App Protection Policies, or Conditional Access policies. When everything’s done, click Create.

CREATING A DEVICE GROUP

Head over to Groups > All groups > New group. You’ll need to fill in the Group Name but filling in the Group Description is optional. Make sure that the Group type is set to “security”. Then, proceed to change Membership type to Dynamic device, after which you need to Add a dynamic query. By using dynamic queries, you can have your device automatically added to a group based on the property of your choice.

Approve and assign Managed Home Screen and MORE Managed Google Play apps

This next step will ensure that the Managed Home Screen successful downloads and installs on your enrolled devices. It should also automatically launch. You’ll find Managed Home Screen already synced in the console when you venture over to navigate Apps > All apps as soon as you have linked your Intune and Managed Google Play accounts. After that, you can:

  • Click Managed Home Screen.
  • Select Properties>Assignments (edit).
  • Add your device group from Step 2 officially to the Required assignments.
  • Save.

If you want to add public, private, or web applications, go ahead and stay in Apps > All apps and choose “add.” Navigate to Select app type and choose Managed Google Play app.

Manage Android Enterprise system apps

One thing that you will notice is that system applications will often disable by default upon enrollment. To enable these applications and show the icon on the device, you start by heading back to Apps > All apps in Intune and selecting Add in the top left corner. After choosing Select, proceed to fill out the App information, and assign it as “Required” or “Uninstall” to the group that you created in Step 2. At this point, you can select “Required” if you want the application to be available on the device or “Uninstall” if you prefer that it remain hidden on the device.

Creating a device configuration profile

Having this profile is crucial because it enables you to not only configure device-level behavior but to configure kiosk mode as well. To begin the process, navigate to Devices>Configuration profiles>Create profile. Next, go to Platform, and select “Android Enterprise.” With that done, head to Profile and  select “Device restrictions” beneath “Fully Managed, Dedicated, and Corporate-Owned Work Profile.”

After this, select Create, and then you need to fill in the Name of your profile but filling in the Description is optional. Once everything is ready you can select Next.

Creating an app configuration profile

Be mindful that this step is completely optional. Once you have completed the steps already given above, you will be ready to enroll your devices. So, this step is ideal for those who want to learn how to utilize all the available Managed Home Screen features. Additionally, this step will help you to configure the complete list of features that Managed Home Screen has to offer.

In the Endpoint Management admin center, head over to Apps>App configuration policies>Add>Managed devices. Then, you need to fill in the Name and as with other sections, the Description is optional. Select Android Enterprise for platform, Fully Managed, Dedicated, and Corporate-Owned Work Profile Only for profile type, and Managed Home Screen for targeted app. As soon as you are ready to continue, select Next.

A. Using configuration designer to setup Managed Home Screen features

Choose Use configuration designer from the Configuration settings format drop-down menu. Select Add to open a panel with all the available Managed Home Screen configuration keys. Choose the configuration keys that you want to edit and then click OK. All the configuration keys have default values and if you want to modify a configuration value, hover over and then interact with each row under the “Configuration value” column. Click Next as soon as all the necessary changes have been made.

Navigate to the Assignments page under Included groups, choose Select groups to include, next  and pick the device group you created in the second step. You can review by clicking Next, and once set, click Create.

B. Using JSON data to setup Managed Home Screen features

You can complete the configuration of the home screen by using JSON to create your folders, add widgets, and order items. If you need to edit your existing app configuration profile, you can do so by clicking on the policy you just created in Apps > App configuration policies. After that, select Properties > Settings (Edit). Choose Enter JSON data from the Configuration settings format drop-down menu. You should be able to see all your existing configurations in JSON format.

B.1. Add a managed folder to your home screen

You can organize your home screen better by creating a folder that you get to manage. This is something that you can only do using JSON data format in an app configuration policy. You’ll need to add the JSON snippet below in where feature configurations go:

  • Replace “PLACEHOLDER_FOLDER-NAME” with a name of your choice.
  • Replace “PLACEHOLDER_APP-PACKAGE-NAME” with the package name of the app that you want to put inside your folder. You have the option to add as many apps as you want.
  • B.2. Configure custom ordering of items on the home screen

A few things will happen if you want to create a custom ordering of items on the home screen. These include:

  • Apps, widgets, and folders should already be added to your home screen allow-list.
  • The home screen should be locked because this ensures that a user cannot make changes by moving things around themselves.
  • A grid size for all your home screen pages should be set.
  • App ordering mode should be enabled.

At this point, you can set the position of an item to an assigned grid position. Note that the positions will read from smallest to largest from left to right and then top-to-bottom.

DEVICE ENROLLMENT

As already alluded to earlier, devices should be running Android OS 8+ and run with Google Mobile Services (GMS). As soon as a device is ready, you can enroll from a factory-reset state using:

  • Near Field Communication
  • Token entry
  • QR code scanning
  • Google’s Zero Touch Enrollment
  • Samsung’s Knox Mobile Enrollment

User credentials are not necessary during enrollment or provisioning because these dedicated devices are not user-associated. Select the type of enrollment that you want and follow the instructions given in this section.

COMPLETION OF SETUP

After the setup process finalizes, you’ll find yourself on the device’s home screen. Then, the device will proceed to sync policies with Intune after which apps will begin to download and install on the device. And after Managed Home Screen has been installed, it will auto-launch and show you all your configurations.

Improvements to Managed Home Screen

Pursuant to the feedback that Microsoft received from its clients, some eye-catching new design changes have been made to the app to optimize usability. However, these new features are only available on the updated experience.

Although, you can look forward to an improved user experience, Microsoft has not made any intentional changes to feature support and you can expect only minor changes in current functionality such as:

  • You’ll no longer see the company logo on the Session PIN screen, but you will still have it on the home screen.
  • Swiping down will no longer give you access to the Managed Home Screen settings.

Addition of the top bar

A top bar is now available to the Managed Home Screen page with the intention of simplifying access as well as to enable quick access to device-identifying information. This top bar can configure as necessary and thus allows for the display of two descriptive elements.

IT administrators can decide between serial number, device name, and tenant name for the top and bottom element in situations where the device is not configured with sign-in. On the other hand, if the device is configured with sign-in, the top element will display the signed in user’s name.

Easily discoverable settings and sign out button

Another benefit of the top bar is that it enables quick navigation to settings as well as the sign-out button. However, for the latter, this is only possible when sign-in is configured. If you go to the upper right-hand corner of the top bar, you’ll now find a settings wheel icon.

When a user taps this icon, they’ll see which settings the IT administrator has selected to reveal to them within MHS settings. One thing to note with the updated experience is that swiping down on the device will no longer give you access to settings.

You can now find the Settings icon located on the top bar by default. IT admins get to decide which settings a user can configure or disable it altogether by enabling or disabling the configuration key “Show managed settings”. There are a couple of situations in which the Settings icon will still display, and these are:

  • When a user is signed in, the Settings icon is available to view the user’s profile information.
  • When device permissions are required but no user is signed in, the Settings icon will be available for the user to grant permissions. Moreover, you won’t see any additional settings unless configured.

Updated permissions flow

Updating the permissions granting flow has been necessitated by the desire to ensure that device users do not miss essential permissions. Upon launching MHS initially, a dialogue will appear requesting users to grant any required permissions. Users can get to the settings screen where the required settings will be clearly laid out by tapping either the message or the settings wheel.

By tapping on the message, users will be redirected to the correct page in the Android settings page to grant the permission that is needed for the functionality of all configurations that are set by the IT administrator for Managed Home Screen.

In the event a user rejects the permission, a message will then be displayed on the screen and a red dot will appear on the settings app icon. Ultimately, this update to the permissions flow has been designed to prevent permissions from being missed and to optimize the functions of Managed Home Screen.

Enhanced troubleshooting features

Managed Home Screen is helping to simplify the process of troubleshooting device issues. The new features that have been introduced will give users access to a debug menu, which includes the pages for Get Help, Exit Kiosk Mode, and About.

Users can now go to the Get Help page and easily upload logs. In addition, users can also view Management Resources, allowing them to launch adjacent management apps whenever necessary.

And if you want important information on Managed Home Screen, including the privacy statements, accessibility statements, and third-party configurable compliance links, if enabled, you’ll easily find it on the About page.

The updated debug menu can only appear within settings after an IT admin has configured easy access to the debug menu. Without this action, users will need to tap the back button 15 times to unhide the debug menu. 

Start using the updated experience

To begin using the updated experience, you need to follow the steps given below:

  • Start by verifying that the target devices are running version 2.2.0.91169 or higher of Managed Home Screen.
  • Within the Intune admin center, head over to Apps > App configuration policies > Add > Managed devices. (And if you already have an app configuration policy in place for the target devices, you can skip the next step)
  • Filling in the Name will be required, but the Description is optional. Select Android Enterprise for platform, Fully Managed, Dedicated, and Corporate-Owned Work Profile Only for profile type, and Managed Home Screen for targeted app. When everything’s done, click Next.
  • To configure your settings, you can use either configuration designer or JSON data. Navigate to the Configuration settings format drop-down menu, and select Use configuration designer . Choose Add and this will open the panel with the available Managed Home Screen configuration keys.
  • Next, you need to choose the configuration key Enable updated user experience and switch it to True. For those using JSON data, they need to add the key and value below:

“key”: “enable_updated_user_experience”,

valueBool: true

  • Lastly, head over to the Assignments page and look under Included groups. Then, you need to choose Select groups to include and select the device group that you want to include in the public preview. You can review by clicking Next, and once all is set, click Create.

Another important thing to note is that this updated experience only works on the newest version of the Managed Home Screen application. So, you need to turn on the updated app experience and then verify that your devices are running the latest version of Managed Home Screen. If everything is in order, you should expect to see the updated workflows on the device.

Wrap up

Technology has been improving at a lightning speed and an ever-increasing pace for a long time now. The devices available to us, the operating systems, as well as the countless applications, have all gotten significantly better. So, it’s not surprising that businesses want platforms that can empower their workers to operate more efficiently and thus be more productive.

With Managed Home Screen, Microsoft offers its clients a tool that will do that and more. Businesses can get a tool with a lot of great features that will help users to get more from the available technology while eliminating time-consuming distractions.

And as updates like the ones we discussed today continue to be developed, MHS users can look forward to even more improvements that will optimize workflows and enhance their interaction with Intune.

How to Install Printer Drivers and Printers from Intune using Win32

The printing solution that a business uses is integral to its operations and can either positively or negatively affect productivity. It’s important to ensure that you can get the maximum benefits from your IT infrastructure. A key component of any printing solution requires proper printing setup.

But it’s not always as easy as we’d like it to be, especially with so many different products and services available on the market. IT admins need to choose wisely so that businesses can implement tailor-made solutions to address the needs of their employees.

Today, we’ll be going over how you can take advantage of Win32 for the installation of Printer Drivers and Printers, making light work of printing setup and execution.

Importance of printing solutions

Technology has come on in leaps and bounds over the last few decades and has made a massive impact on how companies do business. A lot of the products and services we now have allow us to conduct business in ways that most people couldn’t imagine just a decade ago.

But, even with all our mobile devices and remote working solutions, the simple printer still plays a very big role for most businesses. Plenty of business deals and various transactions still require us to have physical documents, and these can include contracts, proposals, various legal documents, and more. Although businesses can do their printing elsewhere, it’s easier and more cost-effective to have in-house printing solutions. This, of course, requires printing setup and ongoing infrastructure maintenance.

It also offers greater security for highly sensitive documents. Another potential benefit is increased productivity. With the capabilities of modern printing setup and solutions, anyone needing to print documents can do so from anywhere in the office using their PC or even mobile device. This cuts down on time that could otherwise be wasted going to print documents.

Furthermore, having your own in-house printing solution helps you to create a reproducible standard for all materials that your business needs to print. So, all your letterheads, business cards, contracts, etc., will all have a standard look and feel that every professional business wants to have. With that said, let’s look at how you’ll be able to add printers and printer drivers to your business.

Adding a Printer to Windows

When trying to add a new printer to your Windows setup, you’ll need to follow a few steps to ensure that the installation is seamless. Admins may often encounter issues, such as failing to remove the printer from the system, incomplete uninstallation, and failure to install new drivers, among other things.

You may also experience errors like “This driver is not fully installed”. By utilizing certain commands, you can make your printing setup task a bit easier and reduce the chances of facing these problems. In this section, we’ll be going over the steps that you need to follow.

WHAT IS POWERSHELL?

Let’s start by going over what PowerShell is before discussing the steps for adding a printer to Windows. According to Microsoft:

PowerShell is a cross-platform task automation solution made up of a command-line shell, a scripting language, and a configuration management framework.”

Just about anyone who wants to use this solution can since it was built to run on Windows, macOS, and Linux, as well. By using this tool, administrators, developers, and DevOps professionals will be able to use code to easily automate tasks and configurations. Moreover, you can use it either as an open-source shell or a scripting language.

PowerShell offers you the following areas of functionality:

  • Command-line interface – accepts and returns .NET objects, unlike other shells that will only accept and return text. This interface enables PC users to directly interact with the computer through text, unlike the GUI most others use.
  • Scripting language – PowerShell is not just a scripting engine. It’s also a fully functional scripting language that you can use to automate various tasks for DevOps, user management, continuous integration/continuous development, and many other system administrator tasks.
  • Automation platform – because of how extensible PowerShell is by design, this allows an ecosystem of PowerShell modules to deploy and manage almost any technology you work with. And these cover a wide range of Microsoft services, such as Azure and Windows, as well as third-party services, such as Google Cloud and AWS.

POWERSHELL REQUIREMENTS

As with any product or service that you may want to use, there are a few requirements to know. Before you can deploy PowerShell scripts in Intune, be sure to follow the necessary requirements. Below is a list of these requirements:

  • The devices that you’ll be working on must have Windows 10 1709 or later.
  • Additionally, they should also be Azure AD Joined devices or Hybrid Azure AD Joined devices.
  • These devices will need to be enrolled in Intune. And this can be via MDM Auto Enrollment, GPO enrollment, or Manual enrollment.
  • Lastly, we’ll mention co-managed devices that use both Microsoft Intune and Configuration Manager.

Identification of Printer Driver source files

To begin the process of adding a printer to Windows and printing setup, we’ll need to identify all the required printer driver source files. The driver package is extremely important because it contains everything necessary for a device to work correctly with Windows.

A driver package will typically have an INF file, Catalog files, Driver files, and other files. Before you can build a Win32 app, you need to ensure that you know which specific files you’ll need to complete the Printer Driver installation. After deciding which printer you’ll be using, you can proceed as follows:

  • Navigate to the printer manufacturer’s website, where you can download the appropriate Printer Driver software.
  • To guide you through a UI for the installation of the driver package, you will use the Setup.exe installer. Because this installer doesn’t run silently, you should go to the Driver folder to prepare for driver installation using a PowerShell script.
  • Next, open the INF file to see the files needed for driver installation.
  • Windows then proceeds to leverage a catalog file to check that the files can be trusted. This will be in addition to noting any of the required source files using the INF file.

Windows Driver Store

Most people would probably find it far more convenient if their computers had the necessary driver files for printer installation. This would make the printing setup significantly easier. Fortunately, however, the process of adding drivers to the Driver Store is not an overly difficult one. When we say Driver Store, we are simply referring to the trusted location of inbox and third-party driver packages. The only drivers that you can install on a device are those found in this secure location.

A common way that admins will use for staging drivers into the Windows Driver Store involves the use of pnputil. Some would probably raise their eyebrows at this because pnputil is not actually a PowerShell command. But it does get the job done. And admins can run it from a Powershell console. You can pass various commands to the pnputil.exe command line tool. This command is going to require the directory path of the INF driver file for your particular printer:

Pnputil /add-driver <“inf_path”>

Admins should make sure they note the Printer Driver Name because it’s a requirement for the installation of the Printer Driver in Windows. This is something that you can also find in the INF file. After you have completed the staging of the drivers to the Driver Store, you can now Install a printer in Windows using PowerShell cmdlets such as Add-PrinterPort, Add-PrinterDriver, and Add-Printer.

ADD-PRINTER PORT

Those who will be deploying new Network Printers will need to use the Add-PrinterPort cmdlet to create the Printer Port. Upon completion, you can then run the Add-Printer cmdlet. And this will require passing the DriverName and PortName parameters. So, before you begin trying to install the printer, make sure that the Printer Port is available.

ADD-PRINTER DRIVER

Verify that the Printer Driver has been installed before printer installation with the Add-Printer cmdlet can proceed. You can find the name of the Print Driver in the Driver Store within the INF file. So, you can now go ahead and open this INF file, find the appropriate driver name, and then save it. When using the Add-PrinterDriver cmdlet, IT admins should check that they are using the same Driver Name. To install the Printer Driver directly in Windows from the Driver Store, you can use the Add-PrinterDriver cmdlet.

Add-PrinterDriver -DriverName <“driver_name”> -InfPath <“driver_path”>

ADD-PRINTER

After performing all the above steps, you’ll now get to the last one, which is the actual installation of the printer. Here, we’ll basically be putting together everything that’s already come before so we can have that great result we’ve been wanting. Admins will be able to install the printer using the Add-Printer cmdlet. But, this can only happen after the installation of the printer driver and creation of the printer port. After all this is done, you can check the printer installation using printmanagement.msc.

Add-Printer  -DriverName <“driver_name”> -PrinterName <“printer_name”> -PortName <“port_name”>

How to build your Win32 App

WHAT IS A WIN32 APP?

When we talk of Win32 applications, we’ll be referring to programs that have been built for the Windows operating system. They have been written to use the Win32 Application Programmer Interface (API). The latter is a set of program functions that can enable a program to trigger just about every action in the operating system such as opening a file.

This 32-bit Windows API has been around for a few decades and was first availed back in 1993 when Windows NT was released. The early APIs would become known as Win16 and Win32 to distinguish between 16-bit and 32-bit programs. The Win32 APIs carry the following responsibilities:

  • Administration and management – both play a key role in the installation, configuration, and servicing of apps as well as systems.
  • Diagnostics – involved in the remediation of problems through the troubleshooting of both system and application problems. Also responsible for monitoring performance.
  • Graphics and multimedia – incorporation of various components such as video, audio, graphics, and text.
  • Security – ensures high-level security by implementing measures such as password protection, privileged access, rights management, security auditing, and more.
  • System Services – allows for access to computing resources and the operating system. This will include things such as devices, memory, processes, file system, and threads.
  • Windows User Interface – enables not only the creation but the management of a user interface as well. This is for things like display output, user interaction support, and prompts for input from users.

Win32 App Management Capabilities

Win32 app management capabilities will be fully allowed in Microsoft Intune. In addition, Intune also offers support for 32-bit and 64-bit operating system architecture for Windows applications. There are several different types of files that you can manage using the Win32 App, and these include the very well-known .exe, .msi, and .msix, among others. IT admins will need to know, however, that before they can create a Win32 App in Intune, they will need to package it.

Microsoft Intune has become increasingly important in recent years because more and more businesses are migrating to the cloud. As this trend continues, businesses are looking for a solution like Intune that can help with the management of Win32 apps from the cloud. So, with an Intune subscription, administrators will be able to manage and distribute Win32 apps to your Windows 10 or Windows 11 devices.

WIN32 APP REQUIREMENTS

To deploy Win32 apps with Microsoft Intune, there are several requirements that need to be met. These include:

  • Before you can start deploying Win32 apps, you need to have an active Microsoft Intune subscription. This can be purchased from the Microsoft 365 admin center if you don’t already have one.
  • Your devices must meet all the Microsoft Intune prerequisites, including having Windows devices enrolled in Intune as well as having the Intune Company Portal app installed.
  • The devices you’ll be working on should be enrolled in Intune. They also need to be either Azure AD joined, Azure AD registered, or Hybrid Azure AD joined.
  • The Windows application size must also be no more than 8GB per app.
  • The Win32 apps will need to be prepared for deployment. This can be done by leveraging the Intune Win32 app packaging tool to create an installation package for your app. The conversion of your app into an Intune-compatible format will be facilitated by this package tool, and the reason for this action is to simplify both deployment and management.

BUILDING THE APP

Now that we have gone over what the Win32 App actually is and the steps you need for printing setup, we can start looking at how we are going to build a Win32 App. To build this Win32 App, we will need a few source files: cnlb0m.cat, CNLB0MA64.INF, and gpb0.cab. IT admins are also going to need a few other things to create the Win32 App:

  • Driver package source files.
  • Specify an Install command.
  • Specify an uninstall command.

INSTALL COMMAND

Administrators will need to have several conditions that they need to pass to the script:

  • PortName – Provide the name of the port that you need to create.
  • PrinterIP – Provide the network IP address of the relevant printer.
  • PrinterName – Provide the name of the printer that is going to be created. Admins should be aware that this name is used in the Detection Method as well.
  • DriverName – Provide the name of the printer driver that will need to be installed. Earlier, we mentioned noting down this name so that when it comes to this point, our parameters are as they should be.
  • INF file – Provide the name of the INF file for the printer driver.

UNINSTALL COMMAND

With this option, you’ll get the convenience of uninstalling a Win32 application via the Company Portal. This means that your IT can run a lot more efficiently and get things done quickly rather than waiting around for help desk support to address their issues. It’s no surprise then that this was a highly requested feature by users of Microsoft Intune.

If you no longer want a program or perhaps you need the space, uninstallation is going to be a simple and straightforward affair. Because with this particular command, you will only need to pass a single condition to the script. So, as long as you have a valid command line with the correct input, you shouldn’t have any difficulties. A good example of this would be:

powershell.exe -executionpolicy bypass -file Remove-Printer .ps1 -PrinterName “Generic Printer Office1”

DETECTION METHOD

Another element that the Win32 App is going to require is a detection method. Using a detection method is meant to help administrators verify that an application has not already been installed. By detecting the presence of a Win32 App, this will create a scenario where the installation can only proceed if the check proves that the app has not yet been installed.

IT admins can use the printer’s own registry key for this detection. The PrinterName that we mentioned above (the one that will be used during the installation of the printer) will also be the name of the key.

CREATING THE .INTUNEWIN FILE

  • To begin, both the scripts and the source files must be copied to the same folder.
  • Then, you can proceed to create the .intunewin file using Win32ContentPrepTool.
  • Next, navigate to the Microsoft Endpoint Manager admin center.
  • Create a new Win32 App.
  • You’ll now be required to select an .intunewin file so you choose the one you’ve just created.
  • Provide all the app information necessary without leaving out any details.
  • Now, you can add both the Install and Uninstall commands.

Install command: powershell.exe -executionpolicy bypass -file Install-Printer .ps1 -PortName “IP_10.10.1.1” -PrinterIP “10.1.1.1” -PrinterName “Generic Printer Office1”  -DriverName “Generic Driver ABC” -INFFile “CNLB0MA64.INF”

UNINSTALL command: powershell.exe -executionpolicy bypass -file Remove-Printer .ps1 -PrinterName “Generic Printer Office1”

  • Provide all the necessary information in the app requirements section.
  • Under Detection, select Manually configure detection rules and then select Add.
  • Next, for the detection method, you can use the values listed below. Just ensure the Key/Name accordingly.
  • Rule Type Registry
  • Key path

            HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ SOFTWARE \ Microsoft \ Windows NT \ CurrentVersion\ Print \ Printers \ Generic Printer Office1

  • Value Name Name
  • Detection method String comparison
  • Operator Equals
  • Value Generic Printer Office1
  • The last thing you’ll need to do is make sure that the app is assigned to the correct Users/Devices Group.

INSTALLATION MONITORING

Admins who have created an “Available” assignment for a user group can perform the installation of the Win32 App from the Company Portal. To view the generated log file, you can look in the systemroot %temp% folder. After all this is done, you can check the Printer, Driver, and Port installation using printmanagement.msc.

Wrap up

Having a modern printing setup and solution is something that can be extremely beneficial for your business. It can help your employees work more efficiently, increase productivity levels, safeguard sensitive documents from prying eyes, and many other benefits. A great way to install your Printer Drivers and Printers from Microsoft Intune is by using Win32.

This method, as described in this article, is not as complicated as you may imagine and can simplify the process of modernizing your printing setup and solutions. As long as you meet a few of the requirements that are listed, then your IT admins won’t face too many difficulties. So, if you’re looking for ways to upgrade the way your business operates, then you could hardly go trying by trying this method for your organization.

Enhancing Apple Device Management With Microsoft Intune

The technology that we have available to us today intends to make the user experience as smooth as possible. With increasing cybercrime causing headaches for plenty of businesses, the need to constantly improve continues. Security protocols and device management are very high priorities for every organization.

One area that plays a significant role in improving any organization’s security posture is identity management. The best solutions on the market offer a seamless user experience that can improve how users interact with their devices.

It’s always interesting to look at how products and services from different organizations can combine. Ideally, separate brands fuse the best of what they each have for the benefit of their customers. It’s with this in mind that we want to look at how Microsoft Intune and Apple Identity Services do something similar. Both are bringing great solutions to their clients to improve security, as well as secure the user experience.

Microsoft Intune has a lot to offer

As we all know, Intune is a fantastic endpoint management solution. It simplifies app and device management across your various devices. This can include mobile devices, desktop computers, and virtual workstations.

So, it’s perfectly understandable why Intune is such a popular solution for many organizations. It’s a platform that is not only for Windows devices, but it also works brilliantly to improve Apple device management.

Your security will immediately improve because Intune ensures your macOS software is up to date. It then minimizes vulnerabilities by reducing manual tasks. Customers can expect a native macOS software update client experience, as well. This is because of how system update policies for macOS in Intune are built on Apple’s MDM commands. By implementing measures such as these, Intune helps you to reduce the overall attack surface of your business.

SIMPLIFIED APP MANAGEMENT

Another thing you can look forward to is doing away with the trouble of app conversion. This is because Intune is introducing a new application deployment service. Additionally, this new service leverages the Intune MDM agent to install, monitor, and report DMG-type applications. This ability will enable you to deploy in-place DMG app upgrades. It’s also capable of reducing some of the burden on IT staff while also making tasks easier.

In addition to this, Microsoft has been working on a solution that will simplify the deployment of apps. It will do so with custom scripts and apps that are unsigned. This new option, which leverages the Intune MDM agent to deploy PKG-type installers, is going to improve flexibility and customization. But, even with these changes being made, Microsoft has assured its customers that support for the native PKG-type app management experiences for macOS will continue.

ENHANCED USER EXPERIENCE

The provision of a consistent onboarding experience for all Apple devices is a top priority to enhance the experience for all users. Intune will be leaning on the Just-In-Time (JIT) macOS/iPadOS enrollment experience. This simplifies the Mac device onboarding process for users with corporate-owned devices.

Once enrollment finalizes, users can log in on the Enterprise Single Sign-On extension. From there, you can establish SSO across Azure AD-enabled apps and use their Azure AD password to log on to their Mac.

Coupled with the consistent onboarding experience, Intune is also determined to speed up the iOS enrollment process. Because of what the JIT functionality can offer, the iOS Company Portal app will no longer be necessary for AAD registration.

We’ll see a move towards web-based device enrollment, which is going to offer a swifter end-to-end enrollment process. This is a result of the reduced need to switch back and forth between the apps in addition to fewer authentication steps.

EFFICIENT DEVICE MANAGEMENT

Microsoft has also been working on a solution that supports local administrator account and local primary account creation during macOS ADE. This will allow customization of local administrator settings within new and existing macOS enrollment profiles for devices enrolling with user-device affinity.

A couple of years back, Microsoft Intune announced support for Declarative Device Management (DDM). Intune also extended DDM to the macOS settings catalog.

Arguably, one of the best things about DDM is how it can easily co-exist with the standard MDM protocol. It does so without negatively affecting the end-user experience. Customers can send the policies they have created in the settings catalog as well as DDM-based policies to DDM-enabled devices. They can also send the standard MDM-based policy to those devices using the older protocol.

Apple Identity Services

One of the things that have helped Apple distinguish itself over the years is excellent data and device security. In a world where nefarious actors are constantly attempting to exploit device vulnerabilities, businesses need solutions to safeguard their data. With Apple Identity services, your organization will get a product that can securely manage usernames and passwords.

The first measure we’ll talk about is authentication. This action refers to the process of verifying the identity of a user. Apple uses several authentication methods, such as single sign-on. Apple also provides for services, like personal Apple ID, Managed Apple ID, iCloud, iMessage, and FaceTime.

Once authentication measures verify the identity of a user, you then have authorization. This determines precisely what users are allowed to do. For this process, you need to provide a username and a password to an identity provider (IdP).

Essentially, what you have is an identity provider that functions as the authority. The username and password are also the assertion. Together with authentication and authorization, we can also talk about identity federation.

This process will establish trust between two parties and authenticate users. The result enables the linking of a user’s identity across multiple separate identity management systems. The identity federation process can only work effectively if admins set up domains that trust each other. And there also needs to be a single method to identify users.

Enhancing Authentication with Platform Single Sign-On

Users constantly need the services they use to improve so that they can better interact with technology and work more efficiently. In light of this, Apple saw it fit to introduce Platform Single Sign-On, which represents the evolution of authentication protocols.

This solution is replacing Active Directory, binding and simplifying life for users by requiring them to sign in only once. This is possible because, upon a successful user login, the local account credentials synchronize with the IdP. And it allows the user access to various other resources without needing to enter their password again. Platform SSO supports several authentication methods with an identity provider (IdP):

  • Password and encrypted password
  • Password with WS-Trust
  • User secure enclave key
  • SmartCard

New local user accounts are set up on demand by Platform SSO (PSSO) at the login window using IdP credentials. The service can also integrate IdP group membership with macOS. And in addition to this, network accounts can be used for authorization, and groups may also authorize network accounts.

Authentication

As new users go through the authentication process using credentials from their organization’s IdP, they can now have new local user accounts automatically created by macOS. The benefits of this to your organization are several, including:

  • Better user experience – time is of the essence. And with a setup like this, new users won’t require pre-configured accounts, therefore allowing them a much swifter start. As one can imagine, this makes it an excellent solution in environments where device sharing is required.
  • More robust security – the use of user-unique credentials helps to significantly strengthen your organization’s security when users access their devices. Not only that, but the uniqueness of these credentials makes it easier to keep track of all users’ access and activities.
  • Lighten the burden on IT – most of us are aware of how taxing the manual tasks that IT staff have to undertake can be. So, this solution brings automation to the user creation process will undoubtedly be gladly welcomed by IT staff. No longer will IT pros have to go through the tedious process of manually setting up accounts for each new user.

REQUIREMENTS FOR LOCAL ACCOUNT CREATION

But, before moving ahead, you should know that there are a few requirements. Your organization needs to meet the following for you to take advantage of local account creation.

  • UseSharedDeviceKeys – to enable this, you’ll need to use a shared device key that enables the device to have a trusted connection to the Entra ID, regardless of the user.
  • Connectivity with the Identity Provider – your device should be able to connect to your Entra ID. Without this connection being established, authentication of user credentials won’t be possible neither will the user be able to be authorized to access the device.
  • Device State – Login Window with FileVault Unlocked – the device in question should be at the login window, and you also need to ensure that the FileVault is unlocked. The importance of this state is that it establishes that the device is secure while simultaneously verifying its readiness to set up a new user account when authentication has been successfully completed.
  • MDM Support for Bootstrap Tokens – ensure that Bootstrap Tokens are supported by the MDM system. These tokens are integral to the delivery of a seamless user experience within a highly secure environment. This becomes even more evident in situations that require the creation of new user accounts on macOS devices.
  • User Authentication – as soon as you have met all the requirements, users can then begin the authentication process using their Entra ID username and password or a SmartCard.
  • Assignment of User Permissions – the Identity Provider groups will determine the assignment of post-authentication, user permissions.
  • Defining Access Levels through MDM Profiles – to ensure organizational security of the highest standard, all newly created accounts should have their access levels carefully defined. Intune profiles will play a central role during this process and are responsible for determining which users have standard user permissions, administrator privileges, or permissions based on their group membership in Entra ID.

Creating extensions that support platform SSO

Performing single sign-on with an identity provider requires the creation of an SSO extension to support PSSO and implement the required functionality. Additionally, you need to specify the grant types that the extension and IdP support. In macOS 14.0 and later, implement supportedGrantTypes() and return:

Password: password

Secure enclave key, SmartCard, and encrypted password: jwtBearer

WS-Trust: saml1_1 or saml2_0

For PSSO 2.0, there will be a new key service for SSO extensions and IdPs. This is going to allow for an alternative registration flow and additional login configuration. Before you can use it, however, there is a need to implement protocolVersion() in the extension and return ASAuthorizationProviderExtensionPlatformSSOProtocolVersion.version2_0 to indicate that the extension and the IdP server support PSSO 2.0. To complete this section, you need to enable a ticket-granting ticket with Kerberos SSO extension, as well as use diagnostics to iterate on the configuration during development.

REGISTRATION OF USERS AND DEVICES

After creating an SSO extension, there are a few steps to follow to register devices and users with an identity provider, and it’s the PSSO that calls the extension to perform these steps. The extension will first register a device before registering users on that same device. Your SSO extension needs to implement the ASAuthorizationProviderExtensionRegistrationHandler protocol to support registration.

  • Device registration

The SSO extension will use the following to register a device:

beginDeviceRegistration(loginManager:options:completion:)

Furthermore, the extension will need to:

  • Register the device with its associated IdP.
  • Provide the login configuration to Platform SSO.
  • Execute the completion handler.
  • User registration

Successful device registration completes with the following result:

ASAuthorizationProviderExtensionRegistrationResult.success

Once complete, the SSO extension should then proceed with user registration through:

beginUserRegistration(loginManager:userName:method:options:completion:)

The system is designed such that all users on a device will need to use the login configuration, and this also includes when the system creates new users during login. In situations where shared keys are being used, user registration will only begin for each subsequent user on the device. Therefore, when new users are created during login, they will be prompted to start registration when they reach the desktop.

After completion of the registration process, the SSO extension is required to call the completion handler. Following this, the users need to authenticate using the new configuration, which can use platform SSO immediately.

Finally, if the extension supports the PSSO 2.0 protocol methods and the system uses password authentication, a new key will be provisioned by the key service and linked to the user account.

Microsoft introduces Platform SSO for macOS

In 2023, Microsoft announced Platform SSO for macOS. This feature is meant to be an enhancement that will give users of macOS devices a more seamless experience with even better security. What users can expect from this is a solution that enables them to use Touch ID to unlock their device and thereby eliminate the need to enter a password.

Users will then be signed into Entra ID under the hood with a device-bound cryptographic key. Because of the use of phishing-resistant credentials, your business can save money by removing the need for security keys or other hardware.

Adding to user convenience will be the fact that after signing in, the existing Microsoft Enterprise SSO plug-in ensures that you remain signed into the apps you use for work.

However, there is an alternative for those who may not yet be ready to completely remove passwords from Entra ID sign-ins. In this scenario, Platform SSO for macOS allows you to synchronize local account passwords with Entra ID passwords so that users can use one credential across their macOS devices. Furthermore, Platform SSO for macOS will enable administrators to configure the end-user authentication method.

The admins can then set up a phishing-resistant credential or a traditional password as the authentication method. You can easily prepare your business for Platform SSO for macOS by taking the steps given below:

  • Deploy the Microsoft Enterprise SSO plug-in.
  • Ensure that users are registered for Microsoft Entra ID multifactor authentication, and for the best experience, Microsoft Authenticator is recommended for this process.
  • Update macOS devices to macOS 13 (Ventura) or later.

Microsoft Enterprise SSO plug-in for Apple devices

Using the Microsoft Enterprise SSO plug-in for Apple devices, clients will get single sign-on for Microsoft Entra accounts on macOS, iOS, and iPadOS. And they can do so across all applications that support Apple’s enterprise single sign-on feature. Probably the biggest advantage of this plug-in is that it enables SSO for older applications that are integral to your business operations but don’t have support for the latest identity protocols.

To ensure that users would get the best possible experience, the final product that we get resulted from the efforts of both Microsoft and Apple working together. At the moment, you can get the Enterprise SSO plug-in as a built-in feature of Microsoft Authenticator (iPadOS, iOS) and Microsoft Intune Company Portal (macOS).

WHAT FEATURES DO YOU GET?

The Microsoft Enterprise SSO plug-in for Apple devices comes with several attractive features, including:

  • Single sign-on for Microsoft Entra accounts for all apps that support the Apple Enterprise SSO feature
  • Supported in both device and user enrollment, and you can use any mobile device management service of your choice to enable it.
  • Available for applications that don’t yet use the Microsoft Authentication Library (MSAL).
  • Also offers SSO to apps that use OAuth 2, OpenID Connect, and SAML.
  • End-users can be assured of a smooth experience when the Microsoft Enterprise SSO plug-in is enabled because of how it is integrated with the MSAL.

REQUIREMENTS

Device RequirementsiOS RequirementsmacOS Requirements
The device must support and have an installed app that has the Microsoft Enterprise SSO plug-in for Apple devices:   iOS 13.0 and later: Microsoft Authenticator appiPadOS 13.0 and later: Microsoft Authenticator appmacOS 10.15 and later: Intune Company Portal app   Devices should be enrolled in MDM.   Because Apple requires this security measure, configuration needs to be pushed to the device to enable the Enterprise SSO plug-inDevices need to have iOS 13.0 or higher.   Devices will also require a  Microsoft application that provides the Microsoft Enterprise SSO plug-in for Apple. The app in question is the Microsoft Authenticator app.Devices need to have macOS 10.15 or higher.   Devices will also require a  Microsoft application that provides the Microsoft Enterprise SSO plug-in for Apple. The app in question is the Intune Company Portal app.

HOW DOES THE SSO PLUG-IN WORK?

As mentioned before, this plug-in came about because of the efforts of both Microsoft and Apple. So, it’s not too surprising that the plug-in is reliant on the Apple Enterprise SSO framework. Once an identity provider has joined this framework, it can intercept network traffic for its domain as well as modify how those requests are managed. Native applications will also be able to implement custom operations and communicate directly with the SSO plug-in.

Wrap up

The integration of products and services from different tech companies can provide countless benefits for customers. End-user experiences will improve, businesses will get better value for their investment, and tech companies can ensure that their customers get the best possible solutions.

This is why Microsoft Intune has been working with Apple to improve the user experience for Apple device users. Intune wants to be able to offer organizations excellent device management solutions across all devices regardless of preferences.

So, whether you want to use Windows devices or Apple devices, you should be getting great device management options. We all know about Apple Identity Services and how those protocols have given Apple devices the high-level security they have.

Therefore, the fact that Intune measures can co-exist with Apple Identity Services can only be a good thing for customers because this will ultimately strengthen overall security even further, as well as provide a better user experience.

Microsoft Dev Box – Optimizing Developer Productivity

We have all witnessed the impressive speed at which software has been developing during the last few decades. Businesses and individuals alike now have multiple solutions available to them enabling them to enhance productivity in ways that were previously not possible.

As one would expect, this can only mean great things for the future. Developers, however, have dealt with tremendous hardware challenges and onboarding issues creating stumbling blocks for the work they are trying to do. These problems are precisely what Microsoft is trying to address with the introduction of the Microsoft Dev Box.

By providing high-powered workstations in the cloud, developers can up their game and produce better work. In this article, we’ll go over what this product is and why it’s a potential game-changer.

Introducing Microsoft Dev Box

The Microsoft Dev Box is a new Microsoft product that utilizes the existing Windows 365 infrastructure to stream secure and ready-to-code developer workstations on demand. By now, most will be familiar with the Windows 365 Cloud PC. Additionally, most appreciate how it enables businesses to optimize their operations using highly secure virtual PCs.

So, it makes perfect sense that Microsoft Dev Box would leverage the infrastructure that has already proven successful. The cloud workstations that developers will get are what are known as dev boxes.

You can easily use tools, source coding, and prebuilt binaries specific to a project to configure these dev boxes. And it is because of this type of functionality that users can begin work as quickly as possible.

As far as images go, you’ll have the option of creating a customized one or using a preconfigured one from Azure Marketplace, complete with Visual Studio already installed. Depending on the unique needs of developers, they can use multiple dev boxes for their day-to-day workflows. Accessing these dev boxes is easy and similar to other virtual desktops such as the Cloud PC. So, all you need is a remote desktop client or a web browser.

Requirements

As with any other product or service, those interested in using Microsoft Dev Box will need to meet a few requirements. Each user needs to have a license for Windows 11 Enterprise or Windows 10 Enterprise, Microsoft Endpoint Manager, and Azure Active Directory P1.

Although clients can obtain these independently, you will also find these licenses included in Microsoft 365 F3, Microsoft 365 E3, Microsoft 365 E5, Microsoft 365 A3, Microsoft 365 A5, Microsoft 365 Business Premium, and Microsoft 365 Education Student Use Benefit subscriptions.

Key Components of Dev Box

In this section, we’ll be going over the key components of Microsoft Dev Box that you should know. These will help you to set up Dev Box correctly, allowing you to get the best out of it.

DEV CENTER

When we talk of a dev center, we are referring to a set of projects that will all need the same settings. Dev centers enable platform engineers to use dev box definitions for the effective management of the images and the SKUs available to the projects.

Furthermore, these engineers will be able to use network connections to configure the networks that the development teams consume. Dev centers are also used by Azure Deployment Environments to organize resources. Your business can use the same dev center for both services.

PROJECT

When it comes to the Dev Box service, a project is a team function within the organization. And each project is a collection of pools. Moreover, each pool represents a region or workload.

Once a dev center and a project link, all the settings at the dev center level apply to the project automatically. It’s important to note, however, that a project can only be linked to a single dev center.

Dev managers can configure the dev boxes available for any project by specifying the dev box definitions that are appropriate for their workloads. For developers to create their own dev boxes, they need access to projects for developers.

And you can do this by assigning the Dev Box User role. The projects for Deployment Environments, as well as those for Dev Box resources, can be configurable in the same dev center.

DEV BOX DEFINITION

A dev box definition suggests a source image and size, including both compute size and storage size. It’s here you’ll have the freedom to select a source image from Azure Marketplace. Or choose a custom image from your own Azure Compute Gallery instance. Additionally, you’ll be able to use dev box definitions from across multiple projects in a dev center.

NETWORK CONNECTION

IT admins and platform engineers will need to configure the preferred network they use for dev box creation with their organization’s various policies as a guideline. Network connections store configuration information, such as Active Directory join type and virtual network. The dev boxes use the network to connect to network resources. You will also need to choose an Active Directory join type when creating a network connection and the options are as follows:

  • Use native Microsoft Entra ID for scenarios, where your dev boxes only need to connect to cloud-based resources.
  • Alternatively, use hybrid Microsoft Entra ID, when your dev boxes seek to connect to on-premises resources and cloud-based resources.

AZURE REGIONS FOR DEV BOX

Every business needs to start by selecting the most ideal region before proceeding with setting up Dev Box. In cases when your region of choice may not be available for Dev Box, it would be a good idea to select a region within 500 miles. You must specify a region for your dev center and projects. You’ll mostly realize that these resources are in the same region as your primary office or IT management center.

The region for a dev box will be determined by the region of the virtual network specified in a network connection. The service allows you to create multiple network connections, based on the areas where you support developers.

After doing that, you can leverage those connections when you’re creating dev box pools so that dev box users create dev boxes in a region close to them. According to Microsoft, opting for a region close to the dev box user is what will allow you to get the best experience.

DEV BOX POOL

A dev box pool simply refers to a group of dev boxes that are going to be managed together and to which similar settings will be applied. To enhance productivity, as well as working conditions, your business can create multiple dev box pools. These support the needs of hybrid teams that work in different regions or on different workloads.

DEV BOX

Dev boxes are preconfigured workstations that have been designed to be created through the self-service developer portal. Getting set up and starting work can happen immediately. This is because new dev boxes come with all the tools, binaries, and configurations that developers need.

And for those looking to work on multiple workstreams, you can easily create and manage multiple dev boxes. Users will have control over their own dev boxes. And if the need arises they can create more. But, once you’re done using them, you can then delete them.

Pricing table

  SKUPricing per Dev Box instance Max Monthly Price  Hourly Compute  Monthly storage
8 vCPU, 32 GB RAM, 256 GB Storage        $138.20$1.49$19
8 vCPU, 32 GB RAM, 512 GB Storage$157.20          $1.49$38
8 vCPU, 32 GB RAM, 1024 GB Storage$195.20$1.49$76
8 vCPU, 32 GB RAM, 2048 GB Storage$271.20$1.49$152
16 vCPU, 64 GB RAM, 256 GB Storage$257.40$2.98$19
16 vCPU, 64 GB RAM, 512 GB Storage        $276.40$2.98$38
16 vCPU, 64 GB RAM, 1024 GB Storage$314.40$2.98$76
16 vCPU, 64 GB RAM, 2048 GB Storage$390.40$2.98$152
32 vCPU, 128 GB RAM, 512 GB Storage$514.80$5.96$38
32 vCPU, 128 GB RAM, 1024 GB Storage$552.80$5.96$76
32 vCPU, 128 GB RAM, 2048 GB Storage$628.80$5.96$152

Why should you consider Dev Box?

SIMPLIFIED INTEGRATION

One concern that organizations may rightly have involves integration. Companies want to know how they will integrate Dev Box into their already existing infrastructure. However, there should be no cause for concern. Microsoft’s design allows the Dev Box to fit seamlessly with whatever development infrastructure your business may be using.

Your development teams can deploy dev boxes perfectly tailored to the precise and unique needs of your business. If you’re already familiar with the Microsoft ecosystem, and are using tools such as Microsoft Intune or Azure, then Dev Box will be an excellent addition. It will fit well into your workflow.

EASY TO SET UP

Again, on-boarding issues and hardware limitations often pose a problem for developers. This is why the convenience that Dev Box offers can make such a profound impact. Microsoft gives you pre-configured workstations that are available on-demand to meet your needs for various projects.

Dev boxes are configurable with all the key tools that developers need. This enables them to immediately begin work on assigned projects while foregoing the often time-consuming task of setting up a development environment.

ACCESSIBILITY

Cloud-based solutions enable businesses with staff all across the globe to maintain high levels of productivity. Dev Box can offer region-specific workstations that give developers a high-level experience wherever they may be.

Any new developers you want to bring on can onboard in minutes, rather than days because of project-based configurations. And this can be done on any device, running on just about any operating system. This level of accessibility can raise the ceiling for what your organization may have previously considered possible.

COMPATIBILITY

The ease of setting up dev boxes will also make it a cost-effective solution. Similar to using Windows 365 Cloud PCs, users don’t need to purchase new devices or worry about the operating systems they use. Therefore, whether you are on a PC or tablet, you’ll still get to use your favorite productivity software and custom line-of-business tools.

HIBERNATION

Every business wants to ensure that it can get the most from the available products and services while minimizing costs. Therefore, one of the most common things you’ll see businesses do to keep costs down is to shut down idle VMs to avoid paying for unused compute.

While this may help to reduce operating expenses, it has the disadvantage of shutting down developers’ workstation VMs overnight meaning that when they begin work in the morning they need to start by reopening all their tools. Fortunately, this is one of the issues that Dev Box is addressing

The availability of a hibernation feature will enable you to hibernate 8 and 16 core dev boxes so that when you resume a dev box, your apps, and work are exactly as you left them. This feature is designed to enable admins to schedule hibernations for the end of the work day in a specific region as well as be able to configure dev boxes to hibernate after a user disconnects. To provide greater control, a dev box can always skip an upcoming hibernation from the notifications that appear.

Using Microsoft Dev Boxes

There are various scenarios that Microsoft has provided for which businesses can use their dev boxes. These scenarios are as follows:

PLATFORM ENGINEERING SCENARIOS

With Dev Box, platform engineering teams can allocate the appropriate dev boxes according to the various users’ workloads. The platform engineers can:

  • Create dev box pools, add appropriate dev box definitions, and ensure that access is offered only to dev box users who are working on those specific projects.
  • Leverage auto-stop schedules to control costs.
  • Define the network configuration, which is responsible for determining the region where the dev box is created.
  • Assign the built-in Dev Box User role to grant access to development teams and enable them to self-serve dev boxes.

IT ADMIN SCENARIOS

Here IT admins will be able to manage dev boxes similar to other devices on your network:

  • There is automatic enrollment of Dev boxes in Intune. Management of dev boxes can be done through the Microsoft Intune admin center.
  • Keep all Windows devices up-to-date by using expedited quality updates within Intune to deploy zero-day patches across your organization.
  • Users can minimize downtime because they can be helped to get back up and running on new dev boxes if their dev boxes get compromised and need isolation.

With cloud solutions, security is always of great concern and so Dev Box offers access in a secure environment. Access controls in Microsoft Entra ID organize access by project or user type:

  • Join dev boxes natively to a Microsoft Entra ID or Active Directory domain.
  • Ensure that users are required to connect via compliant devices by setting conditional access policies.
  • Requires multifactor authentication at sign-in.
  • Configures risk-based sign-in policies for dev boxes that access sensitive source code and customer data.

DEVELOPER TEAM LEAM SCENARIOS

Developer lead teams can begin to help with the management of the project once they have been assigned the DevCenter Project admin role. Project admins can create dev box pools as well as add appropriate dev box definitions. Additionally, they can also leverage auto-stop schedules to control costs.

DEVELOPER SCENARIOS

If your business has development teams spread across the globe then Dev Box can enable them to create their own dev boxes within their closest region. Developers don’t need to wait for admin teams meaning that they can create dev boxes at their convenience.

And once that’s done, users can access their workstations on any device regardless of operating system. Dev Box offers support to any developers who may be working on several projects. To efficiently handle multiple workloads, projects, or tasks, developers can create and utilize separate dev boxes.

From a predefined pool, developers can take advantage and create multiple dev boxes if the need arises and they can later delete them when the work is complete. Not only that, but the service allows your business to define dev boxes for different roles on a team. So for instance, you can enable full-time developers to have greater control by setting up dev boxes with admin rights while simultaneously restricting permissions for contractors.

The developer experience

One of the best things about the Dev Box experience is how developers can take advantage of the available tools to better streamline their work processes. Because of the ease with which you can create secure, ready-to-code workstations, users can easily move between their primary, secondary, and tertiary machines.

When starting on a new project, developers will often want to quickly get up to speed without wasting time waiting on configuration processes. Dev boxes can be preloaded with settings, tools, source binaries, as well as caches that you need.

Moreover, running in Azure also comes with its own benefits. Not only can you access the resources and services that are needed in the cloud, but you’ll also have the option to connect on-premises resources such as file shares and databases.

Handling various tasks and workloads doesn’t have to be so difficult when you can switch between dev boxes allowing you to work more efficiently. Most of us have strong preferences when it comes to the devices we use so developers will certainly like the fact that they can use any device.

You’ll find that there are native clients for Windows and macOS and to mobile platforms like Android and iOS. And when it comes to which browsers you can use for access, most people with modern browsers should have no issues. Your IT admins will also be happy that Dev Box enables them to easily manage their environments while keeping them secure and up-to-date.

What about security?

The information we’ve gone over tells us that Microsoft Dev Box has a lot to offer businesses. But, if you’re an IT admin, you’ll probably be wondering about security measures to protect your organization. Not surprisingly, this is well covered by Microsoft.

The management of dev boxes will be similar to that of any other cloud-to-PC that uses Windows 365 or any other device that uses Microsoft Endpoint Manager. Admins can maintain the standards that their organization requires by ensuring that all standard apps and management tools are installed like any other enrolled device.

All your company’s policy settings will get deployed, meaning that they constantly receive Windows updates that keep them up-to-date.

As you develop your network connections, you can join dev boxes natively, right to your Azure Active Directory, or even to a hybrid Azure Active Directory domain. You can leverage the tools that you’re already familiar with and set up conditional access policies such as MFA.

Admins can also set it up such that all users can only access the service when using devices that comply with the standards that have been put in place by the organization. Additionally, all traffic when connecting to your dev boxes will be encrypted similarly to what you experience with Windows 365.

Wrap up

Developers have had to contend with frustrating challenges that hinder their productivity for years. These challenges also create unnecessary delays for businesses especially when working with deadlines.

In some cases, you hear of instances where it takes well over a week to onboard a new developer. As we can all imagine, this is far from ideal. When looking at the feedback from various organizations, it’s clear to see why Microsoft sees the need for Dev Box.

With the service offering secure, preconfigured, and ready-to-code workstations, the time to productivity is drastically reduced. Developers can be ready to go almost as soon as an assignment is given without having to be burdened with laborious onboarding processes.

You also have the advantage of using devices you’re comfortable with regardless of what operating system is running. Furthermore, as the service continues to improve, we can expect Dev Box to help optimize the work of developers even more.

Windows 365 Boot and Windows 365 Switch: Latest Features

New features and updates are something that we have become accustomed to and regularly expect for several reasons. Take the mobile devices that we carry with us everywhere. When you purchase a new one, one of the most important things you want to know is how many years of support you will receive.

This is because we all want to ensure that our devices can perform to their maximum capabilities for years to come. With this in mind, Microsoft ensures that products like Windows 365 regularly receive new features and updates that will improve the end-user experience.

As a result of this, businesses can expect the Cloud PC environment to often provide them with new and improved functionality. They’ll also address any issues or bugs that need dealing with. For this particular article, our focus will be the new features of Windows 365 Boot and Windows 365 Switch.

Review of Windows 365 Boot

For those who may not be familiar with Windows 365 Boot, let’s start with a review of what it is. Windows 365 Boot improves the overall experience by helping administrators make it easier to sign in for users on physical Windows 11 devices. Administrators can do this by configuring these devices such that:

  • Users won’t need to sign in to their physical devices.
  • Users can sign in directly to their Windows 365 Cloud PC on their physical devices.

Simply, this means is that Windows 365 Boot enables users of Windows 11 (version 22H2 or 23H2) to directly log into their Windows 365 Cloud PC and as the primary Windows experience on the device. Additionally, when single sign-on is turned on for your Cloud PC, you won’t need to sign in again to sign in to your Cloud PC.

This feature speeds up the signing-in process. It also cuts down on the time spent. Moreover, your business should find this to be an excellent solution for shared devices. Logging in with a unique user identity can take you to your personal and secure Cloud PC.

SHARED PC SCENARIO

This capability allows multiple users to use the same physical device to sign in to their own personal Cloud PCs. It’s design is such that whenever you sign in to the physical device, your unique identity will take you to your assigned and secure Cloud PC.

It’s great for an organization, such as a hospital or call center where people share physical devices then Windows 365 Boot provides you with an excellent solution. It gives employees added convenience by helping them bypass the often tedious startup process.

Consequently, whenever you want to get back to your device, you can boot directly into your secure Cloud PC. From there, you can pick up right where you left off. Colleagues can:

  • Sign out from their Cloud PC on the physical device. Once you sign out, the device reverts back to the Windows 11 login screen.
  • Hand over the physical device to another colleague at the end of your shift.
  • The individual starting their shift can then use the device to sign in to their Cloud PC.

ACCESSING PHYSICAL DEVICES

The objective of Windows 365 Boot physical devices is to enable users to interact with their Cloud PCs without the ability to interact with the physical device. However, to achieve this, you need to set some configuration service provider (CSP) policies.

Administrators should be aware that Windows 365 won’t automatically set these policies to fully restrict end-users from accessing certain resources on the physical device. Therefore, you need to thoroughly review the configuration policies. Understand what applies to your Windows 365 Boot devices. You need to verify that these policies will meet your organization’s security needs for preventing access to the physical device.

PROCESS OVERVIEW

The first step will involve configuring the physical device for Windows 365 Boot. To do this, use the Microsoft 365 Boot guided scenario in the Microsoft Intune admin center. The next step, which is optional, would require you to consider restricting access to Windows 365 Boot physical devices.

And then you’ll need to set up each physical device for Windows 365 Boot configuration. Once the device configuration is complete, multiple users will be able to access their dedicated Cloud PCs from the same Windows 365 Boot physical device.

Windows 365 Switch

When working on your desktop, you want to have an ergonomic working environment where everything you need is easily within reach. To achieve that goal, Windows 365 Switch offers users a feature that makes it a lot easier to move between a Windows 365 Cloud PC and your local desktop. The process is even easier by the fact that you’ll get to use the same familiar keyboard commands, as well as a mouse click or a swipe gesture.

From within Windows, 11 using the Task view feature, users will benefit from the seamless experience, too. Windows 365 delivers by optimizing the way you work. As long as you have a Windows 365 Cloud PC on your device, Windows 365 Switch will pop up automatically inside the Task view feature. But, before we discuss pushing Windows 365 Switch feature components to your Windows 11 endpoints, you will need to meet the following requirements:

  • Windows 11-based endpoints (both Windows 11 Pro and Enterprise)
  • Update to the latest Windows OS Build on your Cloud PC Windows 11 Enterprise or Professional, version 22621.2361 or later
  • Update to the latest Windows OS Build on your physical device Windows 11 Enterprise or Professional, version 22621.2361 or later
  • Windows 365 Cloud PC license.

DEPLOYING WINDOWS 365 SWITCH

You’ll first need to ensure that your Cloud PC is updated to the latest Windows OS build on your Cloud PC. Having done that, under Settings, head over to the Windows Update page. Switch on the Get the latest updates as soon as they are available toggle to get the latest Windows OS updates. You can then restart your PC after you get the updates.

Next up, you’ll want to ensure that your physical device is updated to the latest Windows OS build. Then, you’ll head over to the Windows Update page, which is found under Settings, and switch on the Get the latest updates as soon as they are available toggle to get the latest Windows OS updates. After you get the updates, restart your PC.

Once you’ve taken care of all the above, you now have to install the Windows 365 app. Users can download this app from the Microsoft Store on Windows. And you need to verify that it’s version 1.3.185.0 or newer. The Microsoft Store will be extremely helpful to administrators because it’s going to keep the Windows 365 app up to date.

This will reduce the burden on IT admins because they don’t have to worry about maintaining the app. Depending on what is more convenient for your organization, you can have IT admins use Microsoft Intune to download the app for your end-users. Alternatively, these same end-users can follow the steps below to download the app themselves:

  • Navigate to the Microsoft Store for Windows and look up Windows 365.
  • Select Get to install Windows 365.
  • Select Open.

Another option would be to download the Windows 365 app directly from windows365.microsoft.com. After you’ve completed all the given instructions, you’ll still need to wait a few hours. Then, Switch is fully enabled on your device.

Introducing the new updates

Anyone planning on using the new updates needs to ensure that they are enrolled on the Windows Insider Dev Channel. To do that, you need to follow the steps given below:

  • Under Settings, go to Windows Update > Windows Insider Program. Select Get Started and this will initiate the enrollment process.
  • Sign in with your Microsoft account.
  • Select Dev Channel and Continue.
  • To complete the enrollment process, you need to restart the device.
  • Next, you need to navigate to the Windows Update Settings page and select Check for updates. Here you should select Install all until all the latest Windows updates have been installed.

Your organization can also use Microsoft Intune to enroll endpoints on a larger scale into the Windows Insider Program. To do that, pre-release builds for Windows updates must be enabled. And you must select Dev Channel as the pre-release channel.

What has been added to Windows 365 Boot?

Dedicated mode for Windows 365 Boot

According to the recent announcement, Microsoft is launching a new dedicated mode for Windows 365 Boot. This option, which is now in public preview, allows you to log in to your Windows 365 Cloud PC from your designated company-owned device.

It helps simplify the login process by enabling users. It provides easy log ins to their Cloud PCs from the Windows 11 login screen using password-less authentication methods such as Windows Hello for Business.

Additionally, the new dedicated mode comes with a fast account-switching experience. With this, users can seamlessly switch profiles to log in. They can also personalize the experience with their usernames and passwords, display a picture on the lock and log in screen, and remember their usernames, among other things.

New Microsoft Intune integration for Windows 365 Boot dedicated mode

Going forward, customers will be able to enable the Windows 365 Boot dedicated mode via Microsoft Intune. The integration of Windows 365 with Microsoft Intune allows everyone from IT admins to end-users to have an overall improved experience.

This is because the Microsoft design of both these products is such that they complement each other perfectly. This integration offers multiple benefits that would be pretty difficult to ignore such as:

  • Familiarity with how Microsoft Intune works and the ability to leverage this knowledge to give you an even better Windows 365 experience.
  • Your organization can potentially reduce expenses because of supporting only a single platform regardless of department.
  • IT admins will also get the convenience of using existing profiles as well as deploying existing apps that you already have in your Microsoft Intune inventory.
  • Your organization can benefit from the industry-leading security protocols that Intune uses because it can easily integrate with how the Cloud PC operates.

Among the newly added features, we can find an option to configure that will add Windows Hello support to Windows 365 Boot. You can use the Intune guided flow scenario to access Windows 365 Boot as follows:

  • Go to Devices > Windows 365
  • Under Windows 365 Guides, select Windows 365 Boot or Windows 365 Boot – Public Preview.

New Microsoft Intune integration

When in shared mode, your business can customize the login page to feature your company branding by using Microsoft Intune. If you want to enable customized company logo and name branding in Microsoft Intune:

  • Go to Home > Devices > Windows 365 Boot.
  • In the Settings menu, search for Personalization.

Fail fast mechanism for Windows 365 Boot

I’m sure that many have been frustrated by the experience of having to wait for the sign-in process to the Cloud PC to complete. And then finding out that Windows 365 Boot failed due to network issues or incomplete setup. It’s not exactly the most pleasant way for you to get started on an urgent project.

Fortunately, this issue is being addressed so that you won’t have to wait for the sign-in process to complete. Because of the introduction of the new smart logic, users will be given timely instructions to address any network issues or complete app setup. Doing so will enable you to have a seamless login experience to your Cloud PC.

Manage local PC settings through Windows 365 Boot

From the beginning, the goal with Windows 365 has been ease of use. Microsoft wants to ensure that using the Cloud PC is a comfortable experience that allows users to work at maximum efficiency and thus improve productivity. Something as simple as managing your local PC settings can end up frustrating, especially if you need to make regular changes.

This is why a newly added feature will simplify matters by making it easier to access and manage sound, display, and other device-specific settings of your local PC directly from your Cloud PC in Windows 365 Boot. So, from now on, anything that Cloud PC users need, will not be more than a few clicks away.

New Capabilities for Windows 365 Switch

In addition to the above, there are also a few new features added to Windows 365 Switch. In this section, we’ll be going over what those new capabilities are.

Improved disconnect experience for Windows 365 Switch

Users will now be able to disconnect from their Cloud PCs directly from the local PC. As you would expect, this adds immensely to the concept of ease of use. Cloud PC users gain additional convenience that further simplifies the process of signing in and out. To disconnect from your Cloud PC directly from the local PC, all you have to do is:

  • Navigate to Local PC > Task view.
  • Right-click on the Cloud PC button. Select Disconnect.

To make this even easier for users, Windows 365 also has tool tips that show on disconnect and sign out options in the Cloud PC Start menu. This means they can differentiate between these functionalities.

Desktop indicators differentiate between Cloud PC and local PC for Windows 365 Switch

In an effort to make things easier to see and manage, Windows 365 now has indicators to differentiate between Cloud PC and local PC. So, from now on, when you switch between your respective PCs, you should see Cloud PC and Local PC on the desktop indicator.

Gracefully handling increased connection time for Windows 365 Switch to Frontline Cloud PCs

Another new addition will be the capability to view the updates concerning the Cloud PC connection status and the connection timeout indicator while waiting on the connection screen. If you encounter any error, you can quickly resolve it by copying the correlation ID. Do so by using the new copy button in the error screen. Yet again, adding simplicity will serve to be a great tool for admins and end-users. And everyone can work even more efficiently and improve their productivity.

Windows 365 offers an always up-to-date environment

AUTOMATION OF UPDATES

All the new capabilities we have discussed show that Windows 365 is very much committed to ensuring that customers have a service that is constantly improving. They can depend on this service to get even better to improve the end-user experience.

One of the most important things in this respect is to provide automated updates. This is because it can help minimize disruptions. No one wants to interrupt their workday to deal with updates, especially not knowing how long the update process could take. Even while being aware of the security risks of ignoring updates, people can still continue without actually installing them.

This inspires the need for automated updates. Windows 365 can ensure that your devices remain up-to-date at a time that is convenient and doesn’t cause downtime.

This gives you the scheduling flexibility to plan. Coordinate the installation of automated updates for both the operating system and applications working on your Cloud PCs. And schedule them to occur during non-working hours.

Also, since these updates are automatic, it helps reduce the workload for your IT staff for eliminating those manual tasks. All this while your business gets to leverage the latest features and maintain high security levels.

AUTOMATIC PATCHING

To complement the automatic update feature that Windows 365 uses, clients will also get a patch management service that can scan and detect security patches before they’re downloaded and installed.

This feature further helps to optimize the Cloud PC environment by enabling IT admins to keep devices that are under their control and constantly up-to-date with the latest security patches. Leveraging the patch management capabilities that Windows 365 provides. It eliminates the overall need for IT admins to manually check each device to see if the necessary patches are applied.

Having automatic feature updates and security patches applied means that you reduce the risk of hacking. Would-be hackers won’t have sufficient time to exploit any known vulnerabilities and security threats. The last thing any organization wants is to give nefarious actors all the time they need to take advantage of weaknesses in your security.

You need features that can help your business significantly reduce attack surfaces. And you need to keep employee productivity levels unaffected by potential security breaches. Additionally, businesses will get to reap the benefits from reduced expenses for device lifecycle management and repairs.

Wrap up

If you talk to any IT professional about updates, you’ll probably get a very long discussion about keeping your devices secure and optimized. Whether we’re talking about the PC you use at work or your personal mobile device, regular software and security updates are extremely important to ensure that these devices perform at optimum levels.

In this article, we’ve been discussing the new capabilities that have been added to Windows 365 Boot and Windows 365 Switch to make the Cloud PC an even better product.

We all know of the long list of great features that were built into the Windows 365 Cloud PC when it was first introduced. In spite of that, however, any device or service needs constant improvement if it’s to keep up with all the innovation that we are witnessing year after year.

This is why features such as the ones we have gone over today are so vitally important for improving the experience for Cloud PC users. And as we move forward, we should only expect even greater features for Windows 365.

Unleashing The Power of Device Management with Intune and Declarative Management

Many businesses are increasingly adopting mobile devices, such as phones and tablets, as standard tools for their employees. As these devices become more powerful and technologies like 5G become more available, it makes perfect sense for businesses to take advantage if it makes their employees more productive. That’s where device management comes into play.

This has seen many organizations start to implement bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies as the changes to traditional workplaces pick up momentum. However, there will be a need for effective device management solutions that can reduce the burden on IT staff while simultaneously enhancing the end-user experience.

Solutions such as Apple’s new approach to device management called Declarative Device Management (DDM). Products like these are heralding the future of device management by offering a great array of new features.

What is Declarative Device Management?

Declarative management represents the future of device management. As a relatively new offering from Apple, Declarative Device Management is a transformative update to the protocol. And it brings policy management to devices.

This solution enables devices to be autonomous and proactive. It can also be used together with the existing MDM protocol capabilities. One of the main advantages of having autonomous devices is that they can react to state changes. They then apply management logic to themselves without needing action from the server.

As a result of all this, you’ll get greater performance and increased scalability, which will help keep your organization’s devices running at optimum levels. The ability for devices to be autonomous as well as proactive are the key elements that make declarative management the ideal solution going forward.

Furthermore, declarative management works in a way that keeps devices in the best possible state. It does so, keeping important data secure, regardless of whether or not you have an internet connection. This allows users to have a more responsive experience that can help improve their efficiency.

And to assuage any concerns customers may have, Apple assures clients that although this may be a new offering, the protocol is not. The declarative functionality that is being offered has been built into existing MDM protocols.

Therefore, customers can expect to have access to a device management service that will streamline all management processes. And it improves the experience not only for end-users but for IT admins as well.

Requirements

As with any product, there are minimum requirements to consider if your organization wants to have access to Declarative Device Management.

Operating SystemVersions Supported
macOSVentura 13 and later
iOS15 for user enrollment only and 16 and later for all enrollment types
iPadOS15 and later
tvOS16 and later
watchOS10 and later

Advantages of DDM

Probably the biggest benefit that users stand to gain from DDM is the improvement in device performance. With the main features on offer, devices can act proactively and more autonomously. This means that any actions requiring implementation will execute faster because there is no waiting for the server. Because of this efficiency, you should expect to have far more accurate device information that will also report back much faster.

This improvement in how devices run will also be a welcome change for IT admins. With certain actions being automated, administrators will have more time to prioritize and focus on more productive tasks. And all of this happens in a highly secure environment meaning taking advantage of these benefits will not come at the cost of data and device security.

Core data models

Declarative management comes with three main core data models, and these are as follows:

DECLARATIONS

Declarations refer to the payloads that servers define, forward to devices, and represent the state or behavior that businesses want for their devices. There are four types of declarations:

Declaration TypeDescription
ConfigurationsNot dissimilar to what we’ve already been using for the application of settings and restrictions on devices.
AssetsRefers to the reference data that configurations need for large data items and per-user data.
ActivationsGroup of configurations that are automatically applied to a device. Activations and configurations have a many-to-many type of relationship. Another thing to note is that activations can support complex predicate expressions using an extended predicate syntax.
ManagementThe role of management is to transmit to the device key information about the organization as well as details about the MDM solutions.

STATUS CHANNEL

The status channel is a key means of communication in declarative management. And it is responsible for conveying information when the state of the device changes. When these changes occur, the device will proactively update the server via status reports containing details of the update. An important thing to note is that the server can be configured to subscribe only to specific status items meaning it will receive only the updates it considers necessary.

EXTENSIBILITY

Extensibility enables organizations to better tailor declarative management to meet their business needs. This feature gives you the flexibility of integrating with other products so that end-users have the best possible options available. What this gives you is a platform that enables both devices and MDM servers the ability to support new features as and when they release.

Introducing DDM to your organization

How to manage the transition to DDM

One of the goals with tech products and services is that the companies developing them should design them to be relatively easy to use if you want to draw in customers. To that end, the transition to declarative device management is much easier because the MDM protocol has various functions.

For instance, you will be able to embed existing profiles into a legacy profile declaration. Another good example would be how you can have an MDM solution take ownership of a profile that has already been deployed and subsequently migrate it into a legacy configuration declaration. The advantage of this action is that it eliminates the need to remove an existing profile to replace it with a configuration that may not be suitable for the user.

Integration of declarative management within the MDM protocol

Part of what makes Declarative Device Management such a great option is how it integrates into the MDM protocol. Not only that, but existing MDM vendors already have access to the features that are on offer.

The significance of integration within the MDM protocol is that declarative management will leverage it for the management of key areas including both enrollment and unenrollment, HTTP transport, as well as device and user authentication.

Moreover, DDM intends to make the transition from existing MDM products as seamless as possible. This means that you don’t have to worry about dealing with disruptive changes to adopt new protocols.

To add to the convenience, you’ll also find that declarations and the status channel will coexist with your existing MDM commands and profiles. By setting it up this way, DDM gives organizations the flexibility to adopt declarative management features at their own pace.

Because of this, you won’t need to immediately update all of your MDM workflows. Another very important thing to note is that declarative management will not affect existing MDM behaviors. What you’ll actually find is that declarative management utilizes existing MDM behaviors using an MDM command for activation and an MDC CheckIn request for synchronization and status reports.

Activating declarative management

We’ll start with a DeclarativeManagement command addition to MDM. This command has two roles that it will play. Firstly, it will activate the declarative management features on a device. Before proceeding with this, however, you need to know that you won’t be able to turn off declarative management once you’ve turned it on. But, you do get a way out of this if the need arises. By having the server remove all declarations, this action will, for all intents and purposes, disable declarative management.

The second thing the command can do is include a payload containing synchronization tokens that will initiate a synchronization flow if necessary. Additionally, there is a new CheckIn request type that devices use to synchronize declarations and send status reports to the server. And the server will give you a response when you use the CheckIn request to synchronize declarations. You can get two types of responses which are:

  • A manifest that lists the identifier and server token properties of all declarations defined by the server.
  • Single declarations for the device to apply.

Improved management enhances BYOD

Most of us may have noticed over the last few years that Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) policies are growing in popularity across various business sectors. Similar to declarative management, BYOD can help organizations make better use of the technology available to them and improve the efficiency of their employees.

But, one thing you’ll be quick to notice about employees using their personal devices to connect to enterprise networks is that it can drastically reduce an organization’s capital outlay for devices. And as management solutions continue to get better, the security concerns that you might have about personal devices accessing sensitive corporate data are being addressed.

However, even with the potential financial gains, adopting BYOD policies would still be a difficult sell without effective management services available. This is why services such as Microsoft Intune’s web-based device enrolment for iOS/iPadOS are bringing new features to the table.

What this service will do is eliminate the need for the Company Portal app thereby providing a faster enrollment process that also delivers an improved user experience. Your life as an MDM admin should get somewhat more comfortable given that you’ll now be able to enroll personal devices in Microsoft Intune without users having to first install additional apps.

App or webbased enrollment

Microsoft Intune simplifies device enrollment for Apple users through the availability of Apple device enrollment. This service provides key iOS/iPadOS management capabilities for users in the Microsoft Intune admin center without compromising the security of personal data. When it comes to device enrollment, there are two options: app-based enrollment and web-based enrollment. So, if you navigate to the Intune admin center, the device enrollment options you’ll see are:

  • Device enrollment with the Company Portal
  • Web-based device enrollment

You’ll need to create an enrollment profile in the admin center to select and configure enrollment types. To do that:

  • Navigate to Devices > iOS/iPadOS > iOS/iPadOS enrollment
  • Select Enrollment types.

To simplify the process of Microsoft Entra registration within the employee’s work apps and reduce the number of times they have to authenticate, web-based enrollment will leverage just-in-time (JIT) registration with the Apple single sign-on. JIT registration in enrollments can be enabled by creating a device configuration profile with an SSO app extension policy. But, Intune clarifies that using JIT registration with web-based enrollment is not mandatory but it is highly recommended if you want a better experience for end-users.

EXPLAINING JUST-IN-TIME REGISTRATION

According to Microsoft Intune:

Just in Time registration within the enrollment flow is an improvement to the Setup Assistant with a modern authentication enrollment method since it no longer requires the Company Portal app for Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) registration or compliance checking.”

The overall goal of JIT registration is to streamline the process for users by eliminating the Company Portal requirement which by extension removes some of the complex steps that users have had to deal with. By using JIT registration, all users will need to do to enroll their iOS devices is sign in with their corporate credentials.

To successfully complete the enrollment process, users must sign in with their corporate credentials. Doing this will authenticate them via Entra ID and automatically register their device with Intune. Setting up just-in-time registration requires your business to have an active Apple Business Manager or Apple School Manager account as well as devices that are eligible for JIT registration. Additionally, network settings will need configuration accordingly for enrolled devices and Intune to communicate. In the table below, you’ll find the details concerning web and app enrollment:

SpecificationApp-based enrollmentWeb-based enrollment
Supported versioniOS/iPadOS 14 and lateriOS/iPadOS 15 and later
BYOD and personal devicesYesYes
Device associated with a single userYesYes
Device reset requiredNoNo
Enrollment initiated by the device userYesYes
SupervisionNoNo
Just-In-Time registrationNoYes
Required appsIntune Company Portal app for iOS Microsoft AuthenticatorMicrosoft Authenticator
Enrollment locationApp-based enrollment takes place in the Company Portal app, Safari, and device settings app.Web-based enrollment takes place in Safari and the device settings app.

Setting up web-based enrollment

Web-based enrollment is designed to speed up the enrollment process and give users a more user-friendly experience. Because users can do all they need to in Safari and in their device settings, the Company Portal app will no longer be required.

Furthermore, once you have enabled JIT registration, Intune can use it with the Microsoft Authenticator app for registration of the device and SSO thus eliminating the need for users to sign in constantly during enrollment and when accessing work apps. To set up web-based enrollment, you’ll need to follow the steps below:

Set up just-in-time registration

Before proceeding, you’ll need to verify that you meet the requirements:

  • Apple user enrollment: Account-driven user enrollment
  • Apple device enrollment: Web-based device enrollment
  • Apple automated device enrollment: For enrollments that use Setup Assistant with modern authentication as the authentication method.

Once you’ve checked the requirements, you can now proceed to create an SSO app extension policy that uses the Apple SSO extension to enable JIT registration. With that done, follow the steps below:

  • Sign in to the Microsoft Intune admin center.
  • Navigate to Device features > Category > Single sign-on app extension. Here you need to create an iOS/iPadOS device configuration policy.
  • Select Microsoft Entra ID for SSO app extension type.
  • For any non-Microsoft apps using SSO, you must add the app bundle IDs. Because the SSO extension is automatically applied to all Microsoft apps, it’s better not to add Microsoft apps to your policy. This way you can stay away from authentication issues. Also, note that the Microsoft Authenticator app will be later added in an app policy so you should avoid adding it to the SSO extension as well.
  • Under Additional configuration, add the required key-value pair. For JIT to work properly, you must eliminate trailing spaces before and after the value and key.
Key: device_registration Type: String Value: {{DEVICEREGISTRATION}}
  • Microsoft Intune also recommends that you add the key-value pair that enables SSO in the Safari browser for all apps in the policy. And similar to the previous step, you’ll need to eliminate trailing spaces before and after the value and key for JIT to work properly.
Key: browser_sso_interaction_enabled Type: Integer Value: 1
  • Select Next.
  • For Assignments, you must assign the profile to all users (or designate specific groups), then select Next.
  • You can now go and review your choices on the Review + create page. With everything done, select Create to finish creating the profile.
  • Lastly, you need to head over to Apps > All apps and assign Microsoft Authenticator to groups as a required app.

Create enrollment profile

An enrollment profile is necessary for all devices enrolling via web-based device enrollment. Once created, this profile will initiate the device user’s enrollment experience thereby allowing them to begin enrollment in Safari.

  • Navigate to Devices > Enrollment in the Intune admin center. Select the Apple tab.
  • Select Enrollment types (preview) under Enrollment Options.
  • Select Create profile > iOS/iPadOS.
  • Go to the Basics page and type in a name and description for the profile. This allows you to distinguish this profile from others in the admin center. Select Next.
  • Navigate to the Settings page, for Enrollment type, select Web based device enrollment. Select Next.
  • Head over to the Assignments page and assign the profile to all users or a group of users. Select Next.
  • You can now go and review your choices on the Review + create page. With everything done, select Create to finish creating the profile.

PREPARING EMPLOYEES FOR ENROLLMENT

Employees will be alerted by the app as to the enrollment requirements when they try to sign in to work apps on their personal devices. They will then be redirected to the Company Portal website for enrollment. The other option would involve you giving users an URL that opens the Company Portal website. For those not using Conditional Access, you’ll need to remember to share the enrollment link with device users so that they know how to initiate enrollment. The enrollment steps for device users are as follows:

  • Open Safari and sign in to your Company Portal website with your work or school account.
  • Next, you should get a prompt to download the management profile and this will be downloaded by the Company Portal while you wait in Safari.
  • Navigate to your device settings app to view and install the management profile.
  • Signing in to a work or school app can only happen after the Microsoft Authenticator is installed. The device will only be ready for use after this installation.
  • Now you can use your work account to sign in to a work app, such as Microsoft Teams.
  • You’ll then need to wait while the app identifies the required setting updates.

Wrap up

The future of device management lies in the integration of the best products and services that are available to customers. Often, we can get caught up debating which tech company offers the best services to meet our needs. But, as we are seeing with Microsoft Intune and Apple device management solutions, bringing together great products to coexist can deliver far more for the end-users.

Declarative management looks like a brilliant solution that is going to deliver a seamless user experience that could improve productivity. It’s therefore no surprise that when combined with what Microsoft Intune has to offer, businesses can look forward to better, faster, and more efficient device management.

Troubleshooting Tenant Attach and Device Action Issues

Microsoft has given us countless different products and services over the last few decades. Undoubtedly, we know the important role they have played for individuals and businesses on the journey towards utilizing technology to better our lives. When looking at the Microsoft ecosystem, one of the best examples of undeniable excellence is the Microsoft Intune family of products.

With this product, Microsoft gives you an integrated solution that enables you to seamlessly manage all your devices. Central to this solution is the single console that we know as the Microsoft Intune admin center which brings together Intune and Configuration Manager.

The capabilities of this platform can offer your organization a premium device-management solution like no other. The area that we want to focus on today will have to do with the troubleshooting of tenant attach and device actions.

Comparing Tenant Attach to Co-management

For a lot of people, it may be difficult to distinguish between these two. So, let’s start by looking at where these two options differ. Both of these make up two of the three primary cloud attach features. For a Configuration Manager environment to be cloud-attached, it has to use at least one of the three primary cloud attach features.

Tenant Attach gives you the advantage of having your device records in the cloud as well as the ability to take actions on these devices from the cloud-based console. IT admins can perform remote actions on tenant-attached devices such as sync machine policy, sync user policy, run scripts on clients, deploy applications, and much more.

Furthermore, users will be able to manage endpoint security for the attached devices from the Intune admin center for both Windows Servers and Client devices.

On the other hand, Co-management is going to modify your on-premises Configuration Manager environment without the need for a significant migration effort.

One of the more attractive features of Co-management is how it allows you to easily switch workloads such as compliance policies from SCCM to Intune. By enabling you to manage workloads from the cloud, your organization gets to benefit from a simpler device management experience.

Tenant Attach prerequisites

To make use of Tenant Attach, you will need to meet the following requirements:

  • When you decide to apply this onboarding change, you’ll need to sign in using an account that is a Global Administrator.
  • An Azure cloud environment.
  • With version 2107, United States Government customers will be able to use tenant attach features in the US Government cloud such as account onboarding, tenant sync to Intune, device sync to Intune, and device actions in the Microsoft Intune admin center.
  • The Azure tenant and the service connection point must have the same geographic location.
  • To access the Microsoft Intune admin center, there needs to be at least one Intune license for the administrator.
  • The administration service in Configuration Manager needs to be functional.
  • If your central administration site has a remote provider, you need to follow the instructions for the CAS has a remote provider scenario in the CMPivot article.

PERMISSIONS

In addition to the above, there will also be a few requirements for the user accounts performing device actions and these include:

  • The user account should be a synced user object in Microsoft Entra ID (hybrid identity).
  • The Initiate Configuration Manager action permission under Remote tasks in the Microsoft Intune admin center.

The troubleshooting process

Now and again, all of us will encounter issues with the products and services we use. That’s why it’s important to work with providers that offer great support services so that we avoid downtime. Microsoft puts a lot of effort into ensuring that customers get as much support as they need for the various products in its ecosystem. Understandably, tenant attach is no different.

At this point, most admins should be aware that you can sync Configuration Manager clients to the Microsoft Intune admin center. And from that admin center, some client actions can run on the synchronized clients.

These available actions include the sync user policy, sync machine policy, and app evaluation cycle. After an administrator runs an action from the Microsoft Intune admin center, the notification request will forward to the Configuration Manager site. And from there, it will forward to the client.

LOG FILES

The logs you need to use will be found on the service connection point and these are:

  • CMGatewaySyncUploadWorker.log
  • CMGatewayNotificationWorker.log

You should also use the logs located on the management point:

  • BgbServer.log

Lastly, there are other logs that will be found on the client:

  • CcmNotificationAgent.log

Review your upload

You’ll need to follow the steps given below:

  • Open CMGatewaySyncUploadWorker.log from <ConfigMgr install directory>\Logs.
  • You will see the next sync time recorded in a log entry similar to this format Next run time will be at approximately: 02/28/2024 10:15:30.
  • The log entries that you should look at for device uploads should be something like this Batching N Records. In this instance, N represents the number of changed devices uploaded since the last upload.
  • Admins should expect uploads every 15 minutes for changes. However, once that is done, they will probably need to wait up to 10 minutes to view the client changes appearing in the Microsoft Intune admin center.

Configuration Manager components and log flow

SMS_SERVICE_CONNECTOR: Will utilize the Gateway Notification Worker to process the notification from the Microsoft Intune admin center.

SMS_NOTIFICATION_SERVER: Receives the notification and subsequently creates a client notification.

BgbAgent: The client gets the task and runs the requested action.

SMS SERVICE CONNECTOR

Following the initiation of an action from the Microsoft Intune admin center, the CMGatewayNotificationWorker.log will process the request.

Received new notification. Validating basic notification details…

Validating device action message content…

Authorized to perform client action. TemplateID: RequestMachinePolicy TenantId: a1b2c3a1-b2c3-d4a1-b2c3-d4a1b2c3a1b2 AADUserID:     a1b2c3a1-b2c3-d4a1-b2c3-d4a1b2c3a1b2

Forwarded BGB remote task. TemplateID: 1 TaskGuid: a43dd1b3-a006-4604-b012-5529380b3b6f TaskParam: TargetDeviceIDs: 1

A notification is received from the Microsoft Intune admin center.

Received new notification. Validating basic notification details..

Validation of user and device actions is carried out.

Validating device action message content…

Authorized to perform client action. TemplateID: RequestMachinePolicy TenantId: a1b2c3a1-b2c3-d4a1-b2c3-d4a1b2c3a1b2 AADUserID:     a1b2c3a1-b2c3-d4a1-b2c3-d4a1b2c3a1b2

Forwarding of the remote task to the SMS NOTIFICATION SERVER.

Forwarded BGB remote task. TemplateID: 1 TaskGuid: a43dd1b3-a006-4604-b012-5529380b3b6f TaskParam: TargetDeviceIDs: 1

SMS NOTIFICATION SERVER

At this point, you should be expecting a task to be sent from the management point to the corresponding client as soon as the message has been forwarded to the SMS NOTIFICATION SERVER. In the BgbServer.log, which is on the management point, you should see the following:

Get one push message from database.

Starting to send push task (PushID: 7 TaskID: 8 TaskGUID: A43DD1B3-A006-4604-B012-5529380B3B6F TaskType: 1 TaskParam: ) to 1 clients  with throttling (strategy: 1 param: 42)

BgbAgent

The last step will occur on the client and you can view it in the CcmNotificationAgent.log. As soon as the task has been received, it will then request the scheduler to carry out the action. And once the action has been carried out, a confirmation message will appear:

Receive task from server with pushid=7, taskid=8, taskguid=A43DD1B3-A006-4604-B012-5529380B3B6F, tasktype=1 and taskParam=

Send Task response message <BgbResponseMessage TimeStamp=”2020-01-21T15:43:43Z”><PushID>8</PushID><TaskID>9</TaskID><ReturnCode>1</ReturnCode></BgbResponseMessage> successfully.

Common issues

In this section, we’ll take a look at some of the issues that admins may often encounter.

Unauthorized to perform client action

For whatever reason, there may be situations where administrators may not have the required permissions in Configuration Manager. If that happens, you’ll see an Unauthorized response in the CMGatewayNotificationWorker.log.

Received new notification. Validating basic notification details..

Validating device action message content…

Unauthorized to perform client action. TemplateID: RequestMachinePolicy TenantId: a1b2c3a1-b2c3-d4a1-b2c3-d4a1b2c3a1b2 AADUserID: 3a1e89e6-e190-4615-9d38-a208b0eb1c78

Administrators should verify that the user running the action from the Microsoft Intune admin center has all the necessary permissions on the Configuration Manager site.

Known issues

Data synchronization failures

When there are issues with the hierarchy onboarding configuration, you may end up facing challenges with viewing the tenant attach details in the Microsoft Intune admin center. This could potentially happen in situations where onboarding a hierarchy that has already been onboarded occurs. However, you may also detect this issue from entries in the GenericUploadWorker.log and CMGatewayNotificationWorker.log files.

Workaround for data synchronization failures

Resetting the tenant attach configuration will require you to follow the steps below:

  • Offboard the hierarchy. If the tenant attach is already enabled, you need to disable device upload and offboard by editing the co-management properties.
  • In the Configuration Manager admin console, go to Administration > Overview > Cloud Services > Cloud Attach. (Select the Co-management node if it is version 2103 and earlier)
  • In the ribbon, select Properties for your co-management production policy.
  • Next, you need to remove the Upload to Microsoft Endpoint Manager admin center selection from the Configure upload tab.
  • Once everything’s completed, select Apply.

You need to give the service about 2 hours to clean up the existing record. Once the above has been completed, you can onboard the hierarchy again.

Example errors in log files that require resetting the tenant attach configuration

Errors for AccountOnboardingInfo and DevicePost requests in GenericUploadWorker.log

[GetNotifications] Response from https://us.gateway.configmgr.manage.microsoft.com/api/gateway/Notification is: 401 (Unauthorized)

Response status code: 401 (Unauthorized) Activity ID: 4c536a72-fd7f-4d08-948a-3e65d2129e44

Web exception when getting new notification

Exception details:

[Warning][CMGatewayNotificationWorker][0][System.Net.WebException][0x80131509]

The remote server returned an error: (401) Unauthorized.    at Microsoft.ConfigurationManager.ServiceConnector.ExtensionMethods.<GetResponseAsync>d__13.MoveNext()

Response in the web exception: {“Message”:”An error has occurred.”}

Errors for device actions in CMGatewayNotificationWorker.log

[GetNotifications] Response from https://us.gateway.configmgr.manage.microsoft.com/api/gateway/Notification is: 401 (Unauthorized)

Response status code: 401 (Unauthorized) Activity ID: 4c536a72-fd7f-4d08-948a-3e65d2129e44

Web exception when getting new notification

Exception details:

[Warning][CMGatewayNotificationWorker][0][System.Net.WebException][0x80131509]

The remote server returned an error: (401) Unauthorized.    at Microsoft.ConfigurationManager.ServiceConnector.ExtensionMethods.<GetResponseAsync>d__13.MoveNext()

Response in the web exception: {“Message”:”An error has occurred.”}

Specific devices don’t synchronize

Another issue that you may need to deal with has to do with specific devices, which also happen to be Configuration Manager clients, not being uploaded to the service. So, what devices should you expect to be potentially affected by this issue?

In scenarios where a device is a distribution point that uses the same PKI certificate for both the distribution point functionality and its client agent, then the device won’t be included in the tenant attach device sync.

Furthermore, administrators should look out for the behavior that is typical in such instances. During the on-boarding phase as you are going through the tenant attach process, a full sync will be carried out the first time.

You should be aware that any other sync cycles after this one will be delta synchronizations. If the impacted devices are updated in any way, that update will result in the device being removed from the sync.

When the Configuration Manager site is configured to require multi-factor authentication, most tenant attach features don’t work

More troubleshooting

If you find yourself in a situation where the SMS provider machine that communicates with the service connection point is configured to use multi-factor authentication, you won’t be able to install applications, run CMPivot queries, and perform other actions from the admin console.

Instead, you will get a 403 error code, forbidden. What you would normally do to address this is to configure the on-premises hierarchy to the default authentication level of Windows authentication.

The platform is designed to enable you to determine what the minimum authentication level should be for admins to access Configuration Manager sites. You should view this as a great feature for enhancing security because it means that admins have to sign in to Windows with the appropriate level before they can access Configuration Manager.

Authentication

Furthermore, this applies to all components that access the SMS provider. Configuration Manager supports a handful of authentication levels and these are as follows:

  • Windows authentication: Authentication with Active Directory domain credentials is necessary. Note that this setting represents the previous behavior, as well as the current default setting.
  • Certificate authentication. Authentication with a valid certificate that has been issued by a trusted PKI certificate authority is necessary. You also need to know that you don’t configure this certificate in Configuration Manager. Configuration Manager requires the admin to be signed into Windows using PKI.
  • Windows Hello for Business authentication: In this case, you need a strong two-factor authentication that’s linked to a device and also uses a PIN or biometrics. Before choosing this particular setting, you need to note that the SMS Provider and administration service will require the user’s authentication token to contain a multi-factor authentication (MFA) claim from Windows Hello for Business. In simple terms, all this means is that users of the console, SDK, PowerShell, or administration service are required to authenticate to Windows with their Windows Hello for Business PIN or biometric. If not done this way, the site rejects the user’s action. Another key thing to also remember is that this behavior is specific to Windows Hello for Business and does not apply to Windows Hello.

What to do when Configuration Manager components for tenant attach fail to connect to the backend cloud service

Another issue that some have encountered concerns the failure of Configuration Manager components for tenant attach to connect to the backend cloud service when you run a client action from the Microsoft Intune admin center. In those instances, you may see the error given below:

Failed to check and load service signing certificate. System.ArgumentException: Mismatch certificate subject name

According to the information available from Microsoft, this problem occurs in versions earlier than the Configuration Manager version 2203 hotfix rollup after a change in public certificates on July 27, 2022. The reason for this has to do with the change that came about in public certificates on July 27, 2022, where OU=Microsoft Corporation was removed from the public certificate.

Even though this change was carried out, the configuration manager database still retained the old subject name and this then caused the load check failure. Below are some example entries in the CMGatewayNotificationWorker.log file in the top-level site in the hierarchy:

Error occured when process notification with notification Id <notification Id>. Ignore the notification. SMS_SERVICE_CONNECTOR_CMGatewayNotificationWorker

Exception details: SMS_SERVICE_CONNECTOR_CMGatewayNotificationWorker

[Warning][CMGatewayNotificationWorker][0][System.IO.InvalidDataException][0x80131501]

Failed to check and load service signing certificate. System.ArgumentException: Mismatch certificate subject name at Microsoft.ConfigurationManager.ManagedBase.CertificateUtility.ServiceCertificateUtility.VerifyCertificate(X509Certificate2 certificate, Boolean crlCheck, X509Chain& certificateChain, X509Certificate2Collection extraStore)

and at Microsoft.ConfigurationManager.ManagedBase.CertificateUtility.ServiceCertificateUtility.Reload()

at Microsoft.ConfigurationManager.ManagedBase.CertificateUtility.ServiceCertificateUtility.Exists(String thumbprint)

and at Microsoft.ConfigurationManager.ServiceConnector.AccountOnboardingWorker.\<RefreshServiceSigningCertificateIfNotExistsAsync>d__19.MoveNext()

ADDRESSING THE ISSUE

To address this challenge, there are a couple of methods that you can employ. The first thing you can do is to install the Configuration Manager version 2203 hotfix rollup if you happen to be running Configuration Manager version 2203.

However, if your version of Configuration Manager is a previously supported one, you’ll first need to upgrade to Configuration Manager version 2203. After doing that, you can proceed with the installation of the Configuration Manager version 2203 hotfix rollup.

In the update rollup for Microsoft Endpoint Configuration Manager current branch, version 2203, the following issues have been addressed:

  • Application approvals through email not working with a cloud management gateway due to a missing Microsoft Entra token.
  • Metadata revisions to previously published metadata-only updates not being synchronized to Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) as expected.
  • If a window happens to be left open for a few minutes, the task Sequence Editor running on Windows Server 2022 would fail to apply changes to a task sequence. After this happens, you would see the following message:

Error connecting to provider, smsprov.log may show more details.

  • In situations where the Client checking status frequency (minutes) value has been set below 60, the BitLocker compliance status will be temporarily inaccurate.
  • Admins have also experienced the incorrect removal of some users and their group memberships by the SMS_AZUREAD_DISCOVERY_AGENT thread of the SMA_Executive service in cases when the site server is configured with a non-US English locale. You’ll have have noticed the removals occurring when the discovery cycle runs after the 12th day of the month. Errors will be recorded in the SMS_AZUREAD_DISCOVERY_AGENT.log file at various times during the discovery cycle and they will be similar to the following:
  1. ERROR: Encountered SqlException The conversion of a nvarchar data type to a datetime data type resulted in an out-of-range value.

2. ERROR: Exception message: [The conversion of a nvarchar data type to a datetime data type resulted in an out-of-range value.]

3. ERROR: Group full sync request failed. Exception: System.NullReferenceException: Object reference not set to an instance of an object.

More troubleshooting

  • When adding a CMPivot query as a favorite, it is split into two lines and characters are removed.
  • When searching Software Update Groups in the Configuration Manager console, the Name criteria is not an option.
  • Instead of the value you may have previously noticed, the Browse button for Content location in the properties for a deployment would return an empty location.
  • The implicit uninstall setting won’t be respected by an application that is targeted to a device collection but deployed in the context of the user.
  • Typing a Name value in the Create Orchestration Group wizard occurs at a below normal speed.
  • A misleading error message (false negative) is generated on a target distribution point that is co-located with a site server. You could expect to see this during content distribution from a parent site to a child site. In the distmgr.log, the false negative will appear in this format:

~RDC:Failed to set access security on \\<SiteServerFQDN>\SMSSIG$\<PkgID>.1.tar for package <PkgID> signature file

Conclusion

In some cases, unfortunately, both options involving installation of the Configuration Manager version 2203 hotfix rollup may not work to fix the above issues. For those situations, you’ll need to open a support ticket with the Configuration Manager support team.

From there, you’ll be able to get the appropriate assistance to resolve the problem in the supported version of Configuration Manager in your environment.

Windows 365 Cloud PC and Microsoft Dev Box – A Detailed Comparison

Every business is constantly looking for ways to improve operations, maximize efficiency, and as a result increase revenues. These are precisely the kinds of objectives that cloud solutions can help you meet. They enable businesses to access the computing resources they need when they need them.

Not only do you get excellent computing resources but it also allows you to work remotely whenever it’s convenient for you. In a world where cybercrime is on the rise and physical devices are at risk, cloud services offer an excellent solution that is always available.

With the Windows 365 Cloud PC and the Microsoft Dev Box, Microsoft offers businesses powerful virtual workstations that employees can access from anywhere on any device. These two, however, have their similarities as well as differences. In this article, we shall be doing a comparison of these two services to help you decide which one is most ideal for your business.

Introduction

WINDOWS 365 CLOUD PC

Let’s start with an introduction to both of these services so that we know exactly what they are. The first service is Windows 365 Cloud PC, a virtualization service introduced by Microsoft in 2021. This platform enables individuals to stream their Windows 10 or 11 desktop, applications, various settings, and content from the Microsoft Cloud to any chosen device they prefer.

As an organization, this means that your workers can experience the full Windows ecosystem using personal or corporate devices. Cloud PCs offer a secure environment to store apps, files, and documents. Users can access them anytime and on any device with an internet connection. These kinds of features bring a whole new meaning to the term “portable device.”

The service is easy enough to use. Just purchase a subscription to begin. You can then remotely access a Windows desktop in any modern web browser. Once you have your subscription, you can link Windows 365 to an existing Microsoft account. From there, all your apps, tools, data, and settings will become readily accessible at any time.

Cloud PCs provide you with a consistent experience across any device. This thereby helps users to maintain work efficiency even when working remotely. So, imagine you are working on a project with several application windows open and you suddenly disconnect. The exact same state will restore when you reconnect, regardless of whether you’re using the same device.

MICROSOFT DEV BOX

The Microsoft Dev Box is another virtual computing service from the same tech giant that became generally available in 2023. This particular service was built on the foundation of Windows 365 and was designed specifically with developers in mind. It is meant to help them become more productive by giving them speed and productivity.

What developers get with this solution is access to ready-to-code cloud workstations called dev boxes. These workstations deal with the hardware and onboarding challenges that developers have had to deal with for years.

Dev boxes are configurable with tools, source code, and prebuilt binaries. These are specific to a project, thereby allowing developers to start work as soon as they want.

Comparing cloud services

When trying to decide which cloud solution your business should opt for, it can be a little tricky. First, you need to fully understand what you get from the Windows 365 Cloud PC as well as the Microsoft Dev Box. These two options have several similarities. However, they present different design features for unique user bases.

Again, dev boxes are powerful, pre-configured workstations that allow developers to tackle their tasks almost immediately. Because they are self-service and come ready-to-code, dev boxes eliminate the usual delays that you often face with onboarding.

On the other hand, Windows 365 targets multiple different users and allows them to stream a personalized Windows experience to any device.

Although Dev Box has been built specifically for developers, dev teams are not obliged to use it. Additionally, they can opt for the Windows 365 Cloud PC if they want. Regardless of which you select, you’ll still benefit from the use of Microsoft Endpoint Manager and Intune. And expect to maximize security, compliance, and cost efficiency.

But, the high-performance aspect of dev boxes, among other features, means they will be the ideal option for developer teams. This doesn’t take anything away from the Cloud PC. It still offers businesses virtual desktops that can be set up quickly. Also, they have multiple configurations and can handle various scenarios and workloads.

The multitude of features that Cloud PCs offer mean that businesses can also use them for development purposes. So, if high-performance and self-service access are not prerequisites for your dev teams’ purposes, then Windows 365 could work just fine for you.

Pricing

Another point in favor of Windows 365 is that it will give you predictable per-user/per-month pricing as we can see in the tables given below.

 Windows 365 BusinessWindows 365 Enterprise
Basic$31/month and provides support for up to 300 users. This option allows you to run light productivity tools and web browsers. Clients will get 2vCPU, 4GB RAM, and 128 GB Storage.$31/month and provides support for unlimited users. This option allows you to run light productivity tools and web browsers. Clients will get 2vCPU, 4GB RAM, and 128 GB Storage.
Standard$41/month and also supports up to 300 users. Clients will get 2vCPU, 8GB, and 128 GB of storage allowing you to run a full range of productivity tools and line-of-business apps.$41/month and also supports an unlimited number of users. Clients will get 2vCPU, 8GB, and 128 GB of storage allowing you to run a full range of productivity tools and line-of-business apps.
Premium$66/month and comes with access to 4vCPU, 16 GB of RAM, and 128 GB of storage. With this option, you get support for up to 300 users and can run high-performance workloads and heavier data processing.$66/month and gives you access to 4vCPU, 16 GB of RAM, and 128 GB of storage. With this option, you get support for an unlimited number of users and can run high-performance workloads and heavier data processing.

Sku

    SKUPricing per Dev Box instance   Max Monthly Price    Hourly Compute    Monthly Storage
8 vCPU, 32 GB RAM, 256 GB Storage    $138.20$1.49$19
8 vCPU, 32 GB RAM, 512 GB Storage$157.20          $1.49$38
8 vCPU, 32 GB RAM, 1024 GB Storag$195.20$1.49$76
8 vCPU, 32 GB RAM, 2048 GB Storage$271.20$1.49$152
16 vCPU, 64 GB RAM, 256 GB Storage$257.40$2.98$19
16 vCPU, 64 GB RAM, 512 GB Storage        $276.40$2.98$38
16 vCPU, 64 GB RAM, 1024 GB Storage$314.40$2.98$76
16 vCPU, 64 GB RAM, 2048 GB Storage$390.40$2.98$152
32 vCPU, 128 GB RAM, 512 GB Storage$514.80$5.96$38
32 vCPU, 128 GB RAM, 1024 GB Storage$552.80$5.96$76
32 vCPU, 128 GB RAM, 2048 GB Storage$628.80$5.96$152

Having gone over all the above information, however, Dev Box remains unquestionably the best option. This is especially true for development teams that require high-performance workstations. Also, it’s great for teams who need solutions tailored to their specific projects, self-deployed by developers, and ready-to-code on deployment.

Requirements

For businesses intending to use Windows 365, they will need Intune licenses if they want to manage their devices using Intune. If you’re signing up for Windows 365 Enterprise, then the users should have licenses for Windows E3, Intune, Microsoft Entra ID P1, and Windows 365 to use their Cloud PC.

Alternatively, if you’re signing up for Windows 365 Frontline, users must have licenses for Windows E3, Intune, and Microsoft Entra ID P1. This is in addition to being added to the Microsoft Entra security group in the provisioning policy to use their Cloud PC.

Those interested in using Microsoft Dev Box will also need to meet certain requirements. Each user needs to be licensed for Windows 11 Enterprise or Windows 10 Enterprise, Microsoft Endpoint Manager, and Azure Active Directory P1.

Although clients can obtain these independently, you will also find these licenses included in Microsoft 365 F3, Microsoft 365 E3, Microsoft 365 E5, Microsoft 365 A3, Microsoft 365 A5, Microsoft 365 Business Premium, and Microsoft 365 Education Student Use Benefit subscriptions.

Common features

Remote access

A lot of organizations are adapting to the idea of a more hybrid workforce because of the increased convenience and access that cloud services can offer. With workstations being hosted on the Microsoft Cloud, workers can access their PCs from anywhere. And it’s brilliantly efficient, as long as they have an internet connection.

Cloud PCs and dev boxes utilize the same infrastructure, enabling users to enjoy excellent remote accessibility. This level of access can revolutionize virtualization technology by freeing workers from being limited to their workstations or specific locations and devices.

This is great development for both businesses and workers alike. Especially if we consider a Microsoft survey that showed that 73% of workers would be interested in working remotely if the option was available. So, if Windows 365 and Dev Box can provide the platform to do that then it would be well worth adopting.

QUICK SETUP

When Windows 365 was first announced, one of the biggest features was ease of use and setup. Businesses don’t need to bring in additional or specialist IT professionals to configure their Cloud PC environments. In-house IT departments can take won’t need days to have users set up with Cloud PCs.

Therefore, once a new employee starts, they will have access to a Cloud PC almost as soon as they need it. Because Dev Box is built on the foundation of Windows 365, it follows the same concept of simplicity and ease of use. Microsoft is offering developer teams ready-to-code workstations, enabling them to start work immediately.

Developers will get the full complement of tools, source code, and prebuilt binaries. As a result, you won’t need to wait weeks or more to begin contributing to the projects that your colleagues are working on.

SECURITY

Keeping data secure is a very high priority for Windows 365. And this is why Cloud PCs are kept up to date with the latest cumulative updates. Wherever an individual may be working, data security exists. Microsoft also recommends using Conditional Access to secure end user access to Windows 365.

If businesses use this as well as multi-factor authentication for all their users, then it becomes significantly less likely that nefarious actors could gain access to organizational resources. Similarly, Microsoft has ensured that robust security measures are extended to the Dev Box. Businesses can enhance security by joining dev boxes natively to their Azure Active Directory, or even to a hybrid Azure Active Directory domain.

Additionally, they can utilize features such as conditional access and multi-factor authentication in the same way they have been doing with other products and services in the Microsoft ecosystem.

COMPATIBILITY

Another thing that was crucial for Microsoft to attract clients to the Cloud PC was compatibility. Oftentimes, new services will come with strict hardware requirements that can necessitate significant spending on new devices. Not so with Windows 365. Users can comfortably access their Cloud PCs using whatever devices they prefer.

Although you will get the best experience from using a PC, the choice remains yours whether you use a Windows device or a Mac, an Android device or one running iOS. Developer teams that want to use Dev Box will also benefit from similar compatibility. Businesses don’t need to furnish employees with new devices or worry about changing operating systems.

Dev Box users can get all their favorite productivity software and custom line-of-business tools regardless of the platform they are working on. Not only will this feature help minimize hardware expenditure, but it could potentially improve productivity because developers can use the devices and other tools they are most comfortable with.

SUSTAINABILITY

Plenty of businesses are putting in place measures to help them operate more sustainably and do what they can for the betterment of the planet. As a responsible organization, Microsoft has committed to becoming carbon negative by the year 2030 as well as putting in place measures to eliminate all the carbon that the organization has emitted directly or by electricity consumption since its foundation by the year 2050.

Services like Windows 365 and Dev Box can play a mission-critical role in achieving these goals. With workstations that run on the cloud, users can keep their devices for longer which is something that can contribute to a reduction in e-waste.

Moreover, using cloud solutions can do even more for long-term sustainability with some research suggesting that migrating to the cloud can reduce CO2 emissions by nearly 60 million tons per year.

Access simplified

Arguably the biggest goal of cloud-based solutions has been to facilitate easier access for clients using various devices and operating systems. Windows 365 and Dev Box are at the forefront of what Microsoft has been doing in the cloud technology space. But, it doesn’t simply end with these solutions.

Microsoft has just recently announced the Windows App which is going to be the gateway to many Windows services that are available to businesses. This new offering has been designed to allow the use of almost any device on any platform.

Not surprisingly, this will be the source of great excitement for a lot of Cloud PC and Dev Box users. If you happen to be one of the unfortunate people who till now have been forced to use certain devices or operating systems, then Windows App will give you the freedom many sorely desire. Because of the way it has been designed, users will be able to run Windows on their devices of choice.

So, whether we’re talking Macs, devices running Linux, Android, etc, the beauty of this service is that it will still give you secure access to Microsoft’s remote services. And something that we are all going to enjoy is using web browsers to connect to remote services.

CONNECTING TO YOUR CLOUD PC

If you want to use a web browser to connect to your Cloud PC from Windows 365, all you have to do is:

  • Open your web browser and navigate to https://windows.cloud.microsoft.
  • Sign in with your user account.
  • If it’s your first time using Windows App, navigate through the tour to learn more about Windows App, then select Done, or select Skip.
  • From the Home tab, select Go to devices.
  • At this stage, you are going to see all the Cloud PCs you have from Windows 365 as well as all the other remote resources you have access to. If no Cloud PCs are appearing then you’ll want to contact your administrator.
  • Next, locate the Cloud PC you want to connect to. You can use the available filters to help you find exactly what you need to connect to.
  • Select Connect. A new tab or browser window opens for that device or app.
  • You’re going to see a prompt displaying In Session Settings that will ask you to confirm which local devices or features to use with your Cloud PC. After making your decision, select Connect. You can avoid seeing this prompt every time you connect by checking the Don’t show again box
  • As soon as the connection to your Cloud PC is complete, you can start using it.

CONNECTING TO YOUR DEV BOX

If you want to use a web browser to connect to your dev box from Microsoft Dev Box, all you have to do is:

  • Open your web browser and navigate to https://windows.cloud.microsoft.
  • Sign in with your user account.
  • If it’s your first time using Windows App, navigate through the tour to learn more about Windows App, then select Done, or select Skip.
  • From the Home tab, select Go to devices.
  • At this stage, you are going to see all the dev boxes you have from Microsoft Dev Box as well as all the other remote resources you have access to. If no dev boxes are appearing then you’ll want to contact your administrator.
  • Next, locate the dev box you want to connect to. You can use the available filters to help you find exactly what you need to connect to.
  • Select Connect. A new tab or browser window opens for that dev box.
  • You’re going to see a prompt displaying In Session Settings that will ask you to confirm which local devices or features to use with your Dev box. After making your decision, select Connect. You can avoid seeing this prompt every time you connect by checking the Don’t show again box.
  • As soon as the connection to your dev box is complete, you can start using it.

Wrap up

The future of cloud-based services is bound to have plenty of innovative solutions that will help enhance even further the way businesses interact with technology. Businesses can already benefit from the convenience of having access to powerful virtual workstations without the need to set up their own in-house servers. Microsoft Cloud services provide businesses with solutions such as Windows 365 Cloud PC and Microsoft Dev Box that offer exceptional performance as well as high availability.

Additionally, these cloud services can meet you wherever you are in your journey. There are options available that are tailored to smaller businesses just like you have options for larger businesses. And as you continue to grow, you’ll have the flexibility to scale at a rate that is ideal for your business. So, whether it’s the Cloud PC or the Dev Box that fits your business model better, you can be certain that both will deliver industry-leading technology and world-class service.

Microsoft Intune: Management and Security

The way businesses utilize technology has changed significantly over the last few decades. No longer are individuals confined to their desks so that they can use physical desktops for work. With the advent of Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) policies, plenty of organizations are now having employees use personal devices to do their work as well. This gives individuals greater flexibility regarding when, where, and how they can complete their work-related tasks.

However, despite the countless benefits this scenario presents, there is still the issue of organizations securing their data. This is why Microsoft Intune is so important as a cloud-based device and application management solution that gives the organization control over who can access its resources and how. Following on from the previous blogs on planning and designing your Intune environment, today I’ll be continuing our look into Intune.

Identity management

One of the most important areas that your organization should be looking at is identity management. Without this, your organizational security will not be as strong as it should be. When we talk about identity management, this will also refer to all the various user accounts and groups that will be able to access the organization’s resources. It is the role of admins to ensure that identity management is done properly and the responsibilities will include:

  • Management of account memberships.
  • Management of settings that affect user identities.
  • Authorizing as well as authenticating access to resources.
  • Securing and protecting the identities from actors with nefarious intentions.

The advantage that comes with using Microsoft Intune is that it will carry out all these tasks for you and plenty more. Because it’s a cloud-based platform, Intune can use policies such as security and authentication policies for identity management.

Scenario with existing users and groups

Management of users and groups forms a significant part of endpoint management and if you already have some existing then Intune can help. For organizations with on-premises environments, your user accounts and groups are created and managed in an on-prem Active Directory. And by using any domain controller in the domain, you can quite easily update the users and groups.

When it comes to Intune, you’ll find a central location for user and group management within the Endpoint Manager admin center. Since this admin center is web-based, access to it can be obtained through any device connected to the internet. As an admin, all you need is to sign in with your Intune administrator account. Getting the user accounts and groups into Intune can be done via several methods:

  • For users of Microsoft 365 with users and groups in the Microsoft 365 admin center, you’ll also find the users and groups in the Endpoint Manager admin center. For users that may have multiple tenants, you’ll need to sign in to the Endpoint Manager admin center, And you’ll do so in the same Microsoft 365 tenant as your existing users and groups.
  • Those with on-prem Active Directory can use Azure AD Connect to synchronize on-prem AD accounts to Azure AD. And then once these accounts are in Azure AD, you’ll also find them in the Endpoint Manager admin center.
  • Users and groups can also be imported into the Endpoint Manager admin center from a CSV file. Alternatively, you have the option of creating users and groups from scratch. To create a more structured situation, you can add users and devices to the groups that you add and organize them according to your chosen criteria, for example, location, hardware, department, etc.

Move from machine accounts

A computer account is automatically created every time a Windows endpoint joins an on-premises AD domain. This account can then be used for authenticating on-premises programs, services, and apps. However, you should note that machine accounts are strictly local and so you cannot use them on Azure AD-joined devices. So, in such a case, you would have to opt for user-based authentication to authenticate to on-premises programs, services, and apps.

Roles and permissions control access

Role-based access control (RBAC) is the feature that is used in Intune and the selection of who will have access to what resources is determined by the roles you assign. This will also set the rules clarifying what users can do with those resources. There are some built-in roles that you can find in the Endpoint Manager admin center whose focus is endpoint management. Among these are Policy and Profile Manager, Application, etc.

If necessary, roles will have their read, update, create, or delete permissions but in cases where admins may need specific permissions, custom roles can be created.

Create user affinity when devices enroll

Devices will become associated with a particular user the first time they sign in and this feature is what is known as affinity. This is particularly convenient because users will have available on all their devices all the policies assigned or deployed to their user identities.

Therefore, once associated with a device users will have access to their files, apps, email accounts, and more. Without this association, devices will be categorized as having no user which is often the case with kiosk devices that are focused on specific tasks as well as devices that are used by multiple individuals.

Regardless of which scenario you are dealing with, Intune allows for the creation of the appropriate policies on Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS. So, you’ll need to first establish the intended purpose of a device before proceeding with placing it under management so that you’ll have all the necessary information during enrollment.

Policy assignment with Microsoft Intune

On-premises and cloud-based scenarios have a few differences when it comes to policies. For on-premises scenarios, there are both domain and local accounts, and these accounts will then have group policies and permissions deployed to them at the local, site, domain, or OU level (LSDOU). There is a hierarchy that is followed with OU policies overwriting domain policies, and then domain policies overwriting site policies, and so on.

Alternatively, when it comes to Intune, any policies created therein will have settings for controlling security rules, device features, etc. Users and groups will have these policies assigned to them and unlike with LSDOU, there is no hierarchy.

Management of Windows, macOS, and iOS devices is simplified by the availability of the thousands of management settings that you get in the Intune settings catalogue. Using this settings catalogue will prove to be a relatively easy transition for those using on-premises Group Policy Objects (GPOs).

Securing identities

User identities need to maintain the highest level of security because they are used to access your organization’s resources. Therefore, you need to have measures in place to reduce the risk of unwanted actors potentially accessing these identities. Some of the things you can look at include:

  • Options that promote a password-less strategy such as Windows Hello for Business that does away with username and password sign-in. This will improve security because by entering a password on your device it will then be transmitted over a network where it can be vulnerable to interception. Not only that but if certain servers are compromised countless stored credentials can be exposed.

Windows Hello for Business

With Windows Hello for Business users have the option of signing in and then authenticating using biometrics. The advantage that this method gives you is that all this information will be stored locally on the device thus eliminating the risk of transmitted data being intercepted. Once you have Windows Hello for Business deployed to your environment, you can now use Intune to create the necessary policies for your devices to configure PIN settings, allow biometrics, and more.

  • Another option in the password-less strategy category is certificate-based authentication. By using certificates, you can authenticate users to apps and organization resources via Wi-Fi, a VPN, or email profiles. Therefore, certificates offer great simplicity by eliminating the need for entering usernames and passwords.
  • Next on the list is multi-factor authentication (MFA) which is a feature that you get with Azure AD. As the name suggests, this is an option that will require at least two different verification methods for successful authentication. Once you have MFA deployed to your environment, you could also make it a requirement for enrolling devices into Intune.
  • Lastly, you can also consider Zero Trust which is a feature that will verify all endpoints, devices, and apps included. By leveraging this option, organizations can significantly reduce the chances of data leaving the organization whether intentionally or by accident. The objective here is to ensure that your organization’s data remains internal.

Device management with Microsoft Intune

Microsoft Intune gives organizations a cloud-based service that is designed to make the colossal task of device management something that is much. Otherwise, you may look at all the laptops, tablets, and mobile phones in your environment and it may be daunting to even think about where to start.

Fortunately, with Intune, you get several policies that enable you to control your organization’s devices. These will help you to manage both organization-owned and personal devices in such a way as to ensure that the organization’s data remains secure. There are several elements that you need to consider when looking at your device management strategy.

Management of personal and organization-owned devices

Plenty of organizations nowadays have embraced Bring-Your-Own-Device policies as part of their overall IT strategies going forward. And allowing employees to access organizational resources using personal devices gives them greater flexibility in how they conduct their work.

Also, it can help the organization save money on purchasing devices for employees. To ensure the security of your organization you can request users to enroll their devices in the organization’s device management services. Admins can then deploy policies and configure device features among other things on these devices.

Alternatively, you can protect app data by leveraging app protection policies like SharePoint and Outlook. Another option you could consider is to combine both of these solutions. When it comes to organization-owned devices it’s a completely different situation because they should be fully managed by the organization.

New and existing devices

Intune allows you to use both new and existing devices. In addition, there is support for multiple platforms including Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS/iPadOS. However, a few changes could be necessary such as in the case of devices that have another MDM provider which may need a factory reset. Another concern could be that of devices that are still running older OS versions as they may not be supported.

Compliance health status

You need to verify the compliance health of your devices because it is a very important part of managing devices. For your organization to maintain high levels of security it needs to enforce the use of password/PIN rules as well as verify security features on devices.

The role of compliance is to evaluate which devices are compliant with your requirements and which are not. Your organization will be responsible for creating compliance policies that enforce your minimum requirements. This can include ensuring that there is a minimum OS version, blocking simple passwords, etc.

And when you combine these policies with built-in reporting, you’ll not only see which devices are falling under the non-compliant category but which settings exactly are causing them to be non-compliant. What this will do is give you a clear picture of the status of the devices that have access to organizational resources. With Azure AD you also get conditional access which is a solution that enables you to enforce compliance as well as block access to any non-compliant devices.

Controlling device features and assignment of policies

The policies that you can create with Microsoft Intune enable you to control any number of device features. You can also have device groups and with these, your organization can create policies targeted at the device experience or task.

Additionally, you may also create policies with settings that you want to be permanently established on a particular device regardless of the user. Devices can be placed in groups that you can differentiate based on any chosen criteria. These can be things like OS platform, location, function, etc.

Furthermore, groups may contain devices that are shared by multiple users and thus are not associated with one specific user. Generally, we find these dedicated or kiosk devices being targeted at frontline staff but they can also be managed by Intune. Assignment of policies to device groups can be carried out as soon as the groups are ready.   

Securing your devices with Microsoft Intune

There are several measures you can take to secure your devices against attacks. These measures can include enabling security features and installing tools like antivirus solutions. Intune can offer your organization additional features to further enhance your security.

Mobile Threat Defense integration

To increase security for both organization-owned and personal devices, Intune enables integration with Mobile Threat Defense (MTD) partners. MTD services operate by scanning your devices and then assisting in addressing any detected vulnerabilities. And these MTD partners will also support the same platforms that are supported by Intune including Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS/iPadOS.

Using security baselines

Another thing that you should be doing is using security baselines on your Windows devices. These pre-configured Windows settings enable you to secure and protect your users and devices by giving you more granular control over security configurations. Not only will you get better overall control but each baseline that you deploy can be customized to apply the settings and values that you want. Therefore, you can take advantage of this to configure your settings specifically for your organization.

Built-in policy settings

You can also leverage built-in policy settings to perform several tasks such as encrypting hard disks, managing software updates, configuring built-in firewalls, etc. Furthermore, you can take advantage of the cloud service known as Windows Autopatch to enhance the security and productivity of your organization. It does this by automating aspects such as the patching of Windows and the updating of Microsoft 365 Apps for enterprise, Windows, Microsoft Teams, and Microsoft Edge.

Endpoint Manager

Lastly, you can use the Endpoint Manager admin center to manage your devices remotely. There are plenty of actions that can be performed remotely and these include locating lost devices, locking or restarting devices, restoring devices to factory settings, and more. Having the option of remote management can be very useful, especially in instances where devices are lost, stolen, or need remote troubleshooting.

App management

We cannot talk about securing an organization’s data if we don’t first address the issue of protecting apps and the data they contain. App management often comes with significant challenges because of where users may source apps that they use to access your organization’s resources. Not to mention LOB apps that need careful management to help secure company data. And this is where Intune can play a key role in facilitating the management of these apps and thus improving your overall security.

App deployment

Your organization can use several different types of apps such as LOB apps, web apps, store apps, etc. Intune makes life easier for you by enabling you to add apps and then deploy them to your devices using the app management policy. The Endpoint Manager admin center has app features that are designed to simplify the process of deploying various types of apps across multiple platforms such as:

Android devices

Through the Endpoint Manager admin center, you’ll get an automatic connection to the Play Store where you can search for apps. Additionally, you can sync with your Managed Google Play account thus gaining access to your Android Enterprise apps. There’s plenty you can deploy on Android devices such as custom LOB apps, public and retail apps from the Play Store, Android Enterprise system apps, and more.

iOS/iPadOS devices

Through the Endpoint Manager admin center, you’ll get an automatic connection to the Play Store where you can search for apps. Additionally, you can sync with your Apple Business Manager/Apple School Manager account thus gaining access to your volume-licensed apps. After syncing, you can expect to find the apps you purchase automatically appearing in the admin center. Similar to Android devices, you can deploy plenty of apps such as custom LOB apps, public and retail apps from the App Store, built-in apps, and more.

macOS devices

You’ll find built-in features in the Endpoint Manager admin center that have apps that plenty of users deploy to macOS. Additionally, you can sync with your Apple Business Manager/Apple School Manager account thus gaining access to your volume-licensed apps. After syncing, you can expect to find the apps you purchase automatically appearing in the admin center. For macOS devices, you can deploy custom LOB apps, Microsoft Defender for Endpoint, Apple disk image apps, Microsoft 365 apps, volume-licensed apps, and more.

Windows devices

Through the Endpoint Manager admin center, you’ll get an automatic connection to the public Microsoft Store where you can search for apps. Furthermore, you can sync with your Microsoft Store for Business account thus gaining access to your volume-licensed apps. After syncing, you can expect to find the apps you purchase automatically appearing in the admin center. When it comes to Windows devices, you can deploy custom LOB apps, volume-licensed apps, Win32 apps, public and retail apps in the Microsoft Store, and more.

App configuration

In an ideal scenario, you want to configure apps before they are installed as this will allow you to set them up the way your organization wants. Otherwise, if apps are deployed to users and devices and then they are required to enter configuration information it may end up creating problems.

So, the best thing for you to do may be to leverage app configuration policies that enable the automatic configuration of apps. You can even make your policies such that users won’t need to enter any information. Moreover, with app configuration policies you get the flexibility to deploy them at any time.

So, something you can do is to include the app configuration policy when users enroll their devices thus allowing you to complete the configuration of apps before users open them the first time.

App security

Another key part of your organization’s security is ensuring that apps are protected on both organization-owned and personal devices. The data in apps that have access to your organization’s data needs to be secured from malicious activity. With this in mind, we can easily see the importance of app protection policies that will help you to secure shared files, email, access to meetings, etc.

App protection policies can be created, configured, and deployed to your users and devices using Microsoft Intune. And this applies not only to personal devices but to devices that may be under the management of another MDM provider as well. As far as organization-owned devices are concerned, they are commonly managed by the organization so app security is not an issue.

However, when these devices may have certain apps that require additional security, app protection policies can also be used. These policies also come in handy when it comes to separating users’ personal data from the organization’s data. Therefore, you’ll have the option to set up policies that require a PIN for opening apps, prevent copy-and-paste between apps, and any other features you may deem necessary.     

Updating apps

We all know about the importance of updating our apps for maintaining security standards and improving performance. To make things simpler, when using Intune most apps will get an automatic update if one happens to be available. As already mentioned earlier, Windows Autopatch is another solution that you can use for the automatic patching of Microsoft Edge, Microsoft 365 Apps for enterprise, and Microsoft Teams.

Whenever users install apps themselves, they will need to assume the responsibility of ensuring that these apps are manually updated. And this includes apps that they install from a public app store.

Your organization will want to protect its data and so the best solution, in this case, maybe to use app protection policies. By using these policies, you can enforce minimum app versions as well as wipe the organization’s data from any devices that do not comply with your requirements.

Endpoint security

Next, I want to look at the measures available in Intune to enhance your organization’s endpoint security. Security admins will find in Intune an Endpoint security node that can be used for configuring device security as well as managing security tasks for devices at risk. The comprehensive Endpoint security policies that you get will help you to enhance device security and mitigate risk. Admins will also get via Intune several tools designed for securing devices:

  • You can use the All devices view to verify the status of all managed devices and assess compliance.
  • You can utilize security baselines to implement standard security configurations for devices.
  • The management of security configurations on devices can be done through strict policies.
  • By using compliance policies, you can set the requirements for your devices and users. And this means that you determine the rules that users and devices need to follow for them to be compliant.
  • If you integrate Intune with Microsoft Defender for Endpoint this will allow you access to security tasks. The link that exists between Intune and Microsoft Defender for Endpoint due to these security tasks will enable your security team to detect at-risk devices. Subsequently, your Intune admins will then get the necessary information to implement remediation measures.

Device management

There is an All devices view section in the Endpoint security node that has a list of all devices from your Azure AD that are available in Microsoft Endpoint Manager. Using this section can allow you to review the status of devices for information such as the policies that they are not compliant with. Additionally, there are several actions that you can take from this view to remediate various device issues and this can include restarting devices, scanning for malware, and more.

Manage security baselines

Using security baselines is a great way to implement best practice recommendations from the relevant Microsoft security teams. The security baselines for Microsoft Edge, Windows 10/11 device settings, and Microsoft Defender for Endpoint Protection among others are supported by Intune. Leveraging security baselines enables you to quickly deploy the most ideal configuration of device and application settings to improve the security of users and devices.

However, it’s important to note that these baselines are for devices running Windows 10 version 1809 and later, as well as Windows 11. Another thing to note is that you can have several different methods in your environment for device configuration. So, when looking at the management of settings, you need to first establish what other methods may be in use to prevent problems.

Defender for Endpoint tasks

If you have integrated Intune with Microsoft Defender for Endpoint, you’ll have the option to assess Security tasks in Intune to identify devices that are at risk. With that done, you’ll have the information necessary to mitigate the risk. And then after you have successfully mitigated the risks, these tasks can be used to report back to Microsoft Defender for Endpoint.

  • The Defender for Endpoint team begins by reviewing which devices are at risk and then sends that information along to your Intune team as a security task. The process is a relatively simple one that will see a security task being created to identify the at-risk devices and their vulnerabilities, as well as provide the information necessary to mitigate the risk.
  • Once the information is passed along, the Intune Admins will review the security tasks before implementing actions within Intune to begin remediating the tasks. After the mitigation has been carried out, the task is set as complete and this will report the update back to the Defender for Endpoint team.

Using policies to manage device security

In the Endpoint security node under the Manage section, you will find security policies. If you are a security admin, these are policies that you will want to consider using to simplify the process of configuring device security. Otherwise, the process can involve a lot more work. For example, you may need to go through the vast number of settings in device configuration profiles or security baselines.

It’s also worth noting that these Endpoint security policies are only one of several methods in Intune that can be used for configuring settings on devices. So you’ll need to first verify what other methods may be in use to prevent problems.

Furthermore, under the same Manage section, you’ll also find Conditional Access and Device compliance policies. These two types of policies aren’t involved in the configuration of endpoints. But they do play a key role in device management and controlling access to your organization’s resources.

Use device compliance policy

These policies set the conditions for users and devices to have access to your organization’s resources. Common policy rules include, enforcing password requirements and requiring specific OS versions, among others. These policies also carry out various actions against non-compliant devices. For example, they’ll notify device users and going as far as retiring non-compliant devices. Also, just like other policies, you’ll want to verify what other methods may be in use in your environment so you can avoid policy conflicts.

Configuration of conditional access

Using Azure AD Conditional Access policies with Intune can enable you to enhance security for your devices and your organization’s resources. After an assessment of your environment has been carried out, Intune will then forward a report concerning device compliance policies to Azure AD.

The latter will then use conditional access policies to determine which devices and apps will be granted access to your organization’s resources. Conditional access policies may also be used to control access for devices that are not under Intune management. You will most likely be using device-based conditional access or app-based conditional access with Intune.

Set up Integration with Microsoft Defender for Endpoint

If you want to improve how your organization identifies risks and responds to them then integrating Microsoft Defender for Endpoint would be ideal. There are several MTD partners that Intune can integrate with to improve security.

However, by integrating Intune and Defender for Endpoint, you get additional benefits. These include access to Tamper Protection capabilities, security tasks, and streamlined onboarding for Defender for Endpoint on clients. Additionally, you’ll have access to Defender for Endpoint device risk signals in Intune compliance policies and app protection policies.

Pre-requisites for role-based access control

The management of tasks in the Endpoint security node of the Intune admin center requires you to have an account that has a license for Intune. In addition, the account should also have RBAC permissions that are equal to the permissions that you find in the built-in Intune role of Endpoint Security Manager. Access to the Intune admin center is something that you’ll obtain because of the Endpoint Security Manager role. Anyone responsible for the management of security and compliance features can utilize this role.

Permissions granted by the Endpoint Security Manager role

Android FOTARead
Android for workRead
Audit dataRead
Certificate connectorRead
Corporate device identifiersRead
Derived credentialsRead
Device compliance policiesAssignCreateDeleteReadUpdate View reports
Device configurationsReadView reports
Device enrollment managersRead
Endpoint protection reportsRead
Enrollment programsRead deviceRead profileRead token
FiltersRead
Intune data warehouseRead
Managed appsRead
Managed devicesDeleteReadSet primary userUpdateView reports
Microsoft Defender ATPRead
Microsoft Store for BusinessRead
Mobile Threat DefenseModifyRead
Mobile appsRead
OrganizationRead
Partner device managementRead
PolicySetsRead
Remote assistance connectorsReadView reports
Remote tasksGet FileVault keyInitiate Configuration Manager actionReboot nowRemote lockRotate BitLockerKeys (Preview)Rotate FileVault keyShut downSync devicesWindows defender
RolesRead
Security baselinesAssignCreateDeleteReadUpdate
Security tasksReadUpdate
Telecom expensesRead
Terms and conditionsRead
Windows Enterprise CertificateRead

Avoid Policy Conflicts

In Microsoft Intune, what you’ll find out is that plenty of the configurable settings for the various devices can also be managed by different features. Some of the features on this list include device configuration policies, security baselines, Windows enrollment policies, and endpoint security policies among others.

A scenario that you can consider is that of Endpoint security policies with settings that are a subset of the settings that you’ll also find in endpoint protection and device restriction profiles in the device configuration policy. You should keep in mind that they are managed through various security baselines.

So, if you want to steer clear of conflicts then you must avoid using different baselines, instances of the same baseline, or different policy types and instances to manage the same settings on a device. Achieving this will require meticulous planning so that you clearly determine which methods will be used for configuration deployment. Fortunately, however, if you do encounter conflicts Intune has built-in tools that enable you to identify and resolve those conflicts.            

Wrap up

The modern work environment has a lot going on in the IT department and this can be overwhelming for IT staff. With the advent of Bring-Your-Own-Device policies, no longer are you only concerned about physical desktops in the office. Employees have tablets, mobile devices, and personal laptops that can be used for work-related tasks. With that being the case, it means that these devices need to have access to organizational resources. And this is when security concerns become an issue.

This is why it’s important to have management solutions such as Microsoft Intune. Using this cloud-based platform gives you a solution that simplifies the management of the vast number of devices that have access to your organization’s data.

Additionally, you benefit from numerous management policies that ensure that all those devices are compliant with company regulations thus maintaining a high level of security for your company’s data. So, whether or not you already have a management solution in place, Intune is certainly worth considering.  

User is required to permit SSO

Getting January sign in issues ?

Recently i’ve been getting SSO sign in issues in Microsoft Teams, Outlook and Remote Desktop App.

Error code: CAA2000C
Server message: User is required to permit SSO.

I’m running Windows 11 and it seems to be caused by: 2024-01 Cumulative Update Preview for Windows 11 Version 23H2 for x64-based Systems (KB5034204)

Uninstall the KB, restart and everthing is back to working again.

it may be related to: https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/windows-it-pro-blog/upcoming-changes-to-windows-single-sign-on/ba-p/4008151