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Use Windows Analytics to better support Windows 10 desktops

With the help of Windows Analytics, IT can improve its Windows 10 desktop support with tools such as Device Health, which monitors desktop performance and identifies underperforming devices.

Windows Analytics is a set of tools in the Microsoft Operations Management Suite that provides in-depth information about the desktops in an organization to help IT deliver support quickly and efficiently.

Many IT pros use Windows Analytics as an upgrade prep tool, but they can also use it to support Windows 10 desktops. Windows Analytics has a number of different functions, some of which can make it easier to support Windows 10 while also potentially reducing support costs.

Windows Analytics consists of three main tools -- Upgrade Readiness, Update Compliance and Device Health.

Upgrade Readiness

Windows Analytics Upgrade Readiness, which primarily helps IT prepare for an OS upgrade, contains a few features that can be handy from a long-term support standpoint.

IT can use Upgrade Readiness to check PCs for application and driver compatibility and to test driver configurations.

The Upgrade Readiness feature also provides IT with a computer and application inventory. From a support standpoint, IT can use application inventory data to resolve support issues stemming from missing or incorrect application versions.

Update Compliance

Update Compliance helps organizations determine which updates have been installed on Windows 10 desktops. It offers the ability to track both the protection and threat status of Windows Defender.

Ransomware may not be as pervasive as it once was, but malware remains a constant threat to the well-being of every organization. The ability to manage protection and view threats in the same interface can help IT prevent infections.

Another useful feature is built-in log analytics. Log analytics may not be anything new to Windows, but Windows Analytics can run custom log queries, which help IT quickly identify the root cause of issues.

Windows 10 Upgrade Analytics
Windows 10 Upgrade Analytics Private Preview

Perhaps the most useful Update Compliance feature is the ability to display the status of update deployments across the entire organization. The tool does more than just display which desktops have the latest updates and which do not; it also identifies any desktops where an update has failed. This allows IT to identify desktops that may potentially have problems so it can fix them.

Device Health

Device Health is relatively new to Windows Analytics and is critical in helping IT take a proactive approach to desktop support, which has traditionally been reactive. In the past, a user would call the help desk with a problem and a technician would work to resolve that problem. Device Health helps IT identify issues before they affect the end-user experience and productivity.

For example, Device Health can identify desktops that crash frequently. Sometimes, users don't report these types of problems because they believe it is normal for Windows to crash once in a while. Identifying a problematic system gives IT the chance to fix the issue and improve productivity.

Device Health is relatively new to Windows Analytics and is critical in helping IT take a proactive approach to desktop support.

Device Health also checks to see what caused the crashes, such as an incorrect device driver. If IT discovers a device driver issue, for example, then the tool recommends an alternative device driver that may fix the problem.

Device Health also works to identify problems with Windows Information Protection, a data leakage prevention tool designed to work behind the scenes. When Windows Information Protection is misconfigured, a user's activities may be restricted, or the user may be nagged by constant security prompts. By identifying these issues, Device Health ensures an improved end-user experience.

This was last published in May 2018

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