back to article Microsoft: Like the Borg, we want to absorb all the world's biz computers

Microsoft hopes to assimilate traditional IT admin roles into its cloud with the launch of its Microsoft Managed Desktop (MMD) service. Under MMD, customers will get preconfigured hardware running Windows 10, Microsoft 365 Enterprise subscriptions, cloud-based device management, and Microsoft-managed security and feature …

  1. Detective Emil
    Devil

    Long spoons needed

    So, in 2025 or so, we can expect an EU finding, accompanied by a massive fine, that Microsoft has been threatening to withhold MMD approval from OEMs who want to do naughty things like shipping Chromebooks or sytems with Linux preinstalled.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Snow Wombat
      Trollface

      Re: Long spoons needed

      >implying Linux will be around that long, now that the Rainbow hair'ed pronoun crowd have taken over.

  2. Dwarf Silver badge

    Testing

    And how exactly would the customers applications be tested to ensure that the patches work before they nuke the entire organisation ?

    How would this fit into the broader change management plans that companies have for their important stuff ?

    Looks like another half baked solution.

    1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

      Re: Testing

      "And how exactly would the customers applications be tested to ensure that the patches work before they nuke the entire organisation ?"

      All the customer's applications will have to be bought from Microsoft to ensure compatibility.

      1. big_D Silver badge

        Re: Testing

        Buying from Microsoft doesn't necessarily help, look at the number of times Exchange updates have crippled their servers and needed unpatching or re-patching with corrected updates... Or our suppliers recommending that we don't apply SQL Server updates, because they cause problems...

    2. jarfil

      Re: Testing

      How are they being tested right now? You apply the patches to a single machine, and if it keeps working, then you apply them to some more.

      I don't see why Microsoft wouldn't be able to do the same.

      1. Sampler

        Re: Testing

        Using telemetry to see which users goof off all day on buzzfeed and flag them as the first to get the updates, so, if it doesn't work, at least a useful employee isn't impacted...

        1. wallaby

          Re: Testing

          "Using telemetry to see which users goof off all day on buzzfeed and flag them as the first to get the updates"

          Tinfoil hats in aisle 2

          Boring

        2. Roger Kynaston
          Coat

          Re: Testing

          Or those who spend their time commenting on Reg stories about problems in Redmond.

          Mines the one with a linux usb iso in the pocket.

      2. Wade Burchette

        Re: Testing

        @jarfil

        "I don't see why Microsoft wouldn't be able to do the same."

        Um ... have you been on the moon the past 3 years? Have you seen all the articles about how a Windows 10 update breaks something? If Microsoft does not properly test their updates to Windows 10, what makes you think they will do a better job here? But you are right, there is no reason Microsoft wouldn't be able to do the same. And that is the problem: they are able but not willing.

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Testing

      "How would this fit into the broader change management plans that companies have for their important stuff ?"

      Management fit their important stuff around what Microsoft plans. Problem solved.

      1. ma1010 Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Testing

        @Doctor Syntax

        Management fit their important stuff around what Microsoft plans. Problem solved.

        This is so true. We're in the throes of getting a new major computer system, and when I pointed out to the project manager how the software will NOT do some functions we need, I was told that we will just need to change some of our business practices.

        1. Stevie Silver badge

          Re: just need to change some of our business practices.

          The clarion call of the FOSS community for two decades when their loud claims of "equivalency" were demonstrably refuted.

          Thank Torvalds those Captains Oblivious no longer have the floor.

    4. TheVogon Silver badge

      Re: Testing

      "And how exactly would the customers applications be tested to ensure that the patches work before they nuke the entire organisation ?"

      Presumably the same way it is now. By deploying to test systems first.

      1. Grikath Silver badge

        Re: Testing

        "Presumably the same way it is now. By deploying to test systems first."

        Indeed, plenty of test systems after all... Late on payments... Having apps installed not approved by Borg™... Highest bidd...errmm.. "strategic test deployment"..

        plenty of options once you've got them by the balls...

    5. vtcodger Silver badge

      Re: Testing

      "And how exactly would the customers applications be tested to ensure that the patches work before they nuke the entire organisation ?"

      I don't think this is targeted at users who have significant local applications. The target audience is probably businesses that have relatively simple needs that can be met by Windows, Office and maybe a select few business tools from associated vendors who work hand in glove with Microsoft.

      **I** wouldn't touch this unless and until it's been in place for about a decade and has a vast numbers of actual, satisfied users. I don't expect it to play out that way because it requires MSFT to do a really difficult job really well. They aren't stupid, but I doubt they are smart enough to make this work. I doubt anyone is smart enough to make it work.

    6. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Testing - half baked or well thought out for profit?

      This will give them the chance to bork millions of machines at once with a cobbled patch and get paid for it. Saves on testing costs and at some point, will give them a lock-in to apps, etc. much like Apple does.

  3. mark l 2 Silver badge

    With the way Microsoft handles products and services there is no saying this service will still be around in another few years if the uptake isn't enough they will just kill it. Meaning if your one of the unlucky ones who decided you could fire some off your admins and let MS handle it all then they pull the plug on it, you could find yourself up the creek without a paddle.

    1. BongoJoe

      you could find yourself up the creek without a paddle

      > r/could/will

  4. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    I have just one question

    Which data center is going to house this newfangled thingamabob, and what happens when it goes down due to lightning, water, or squirrels (never forget ROTS) ?

    Because if it has the redundancy of the last one that failed miserably, I don't see how this will make things any better.

    1. vtcodger Silver badge

      Re: I have just one question

      Perhaps I'm misreading it, but I think the vision is that you send Microsoft a (whopping great) check every month and every three years or so a bunch of big boxes shows up on your doorstep. You open them, take the computers therein to your desks/counters/workstations, unplug the old computer, plug the new one in (along with the network, keyboard, mouse) and turn the power on. In a week or three, a truck shows up to collect the boxes that now contain your old computers and carts them off to Niceragua where they are given away to schools. Microsoft handles ALL the details for you.

      Perhaps I misunderstand.

  5. BongoJoe

    What happens if one has legacy code which won't run on the latest version of Windows due to incompatibility issues with the compatibility mode?

    Will Microsoft magically rewrite all one's code, as a part of all of this service, to the latest version of .Net before charging for a subscription model that replaces the paid-for model which, er, just works?

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "What happens if one has legacy code which won't run on the latest version of Windows due to incompatibility issues with the compatibility mode?"

      It's one's own fault for using something Microsoft didn't provide. Just ditch it and use something from them that more or less fits and adapt to it.

      1. BongoJoe

        I really hope that's tongue in cheek. F'rinstance I make my living now from my own bespoke applications none of which remotely resemble anything that MS offers.

        With the sole exception of using MS Word, via COM, to write oodles of reports daily. But as for the applications themselves then, sorry, nothing that Microsoft produces comes close. Other than that I made the mistake of using Visual Studio to write the code in the first place. I wish now that at the time, when the whole process started, that Linux were as it is today.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I wish now that at the time, when the whole process started, that Linux were as it is today.

          Oh don't we all?

          This industry would be in a much better place.

        2. Mark 85 Silver badge

          @BongoJoe

          I really hope that's tongue in cheek. F'rinstance I make my living now from my own bespoke applications none of which remotely resemble anything that MS offers.

          You will need to be assimilated into the MS Borg factory.

        3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          "I really hope that's tongue in cheek. F'rinstance I make my living now from my own bespoke applications none of which remotely resemble anything that MS offers."

          You don't have to read many of my posts to rest assured about that. Writing and administering bespoke stuff was also the way I made my living for a large part of my working life. Even when the main application was a bought-in ERP system there was always something bespoke to do round the edges.

          "I wish now that at the time, when the whole process started, that Linux were as it is today."

          There was SCO inter alia. Linux didn't appear out of thin air.

          1. BongoJoe

            Doctor Syntax: I almost went down the SCO route as I was developing with it just before it well all funny and strange. That was in the days when Windows 3.x was rearing its head and was causing more problems than it initially solved.

            If I did go down the SCO route then I would have perhaps have landed with Linux but, at the time, I couldn't find the stuff that I needed. Perhaps it was there or perhaps it wasn't: but I couldn't get the stuff at the price that I could afford.

            Anyway, I am here now and I wouldn't mind hanging on just a little longer so that I can retire to a motorhome of my choice.

    2. Magic Hair

      Kind of, yeah. Desktop app assure

      https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/blog/2018/09/06/helping-customers-shift-to-a-modern-desktop/

  6. Stuart 22

    Lenovo?

    Partnering only with HP & Dell as their duopoly in crime with enforced purchase/repurchase every three years. Recipe for being gouged on hardware as well as software?

    Next time the SysAdmin screws up (aka goes on holiday) senior management will have been brainwashed into this nice simple solution. This is straight from IBM's "never sacked" playbook. Do they get royalties?

  7. GlenP Silver badge

    I can see the attraction of this. Business systems are slowly becoming less dependant on legacy compatibility (our ERP and Finance systems are both now browser based and becoming browser agnostic) so that reduces the issues significantly. Setting up computers is a pain in the proverbial, especially with remote sites where I have to get the equipment here, get it set up then ship it out again. Being able to just place an order and have it arrive at the user's desk would be handy, especially if I can then forget about it.

    There are huge buts to this though. Microsoft's reputation for cancelling services is a major issue. I already rejected moving to Office 365 due to the amount of admin work needed, I suspect having to administer your estate is actually going to be a lot harder than they admit. I wonder about the application install and config, e.g. are they prepared to install Acrobat Reader (answer, almost certainly no, "use Edge").

    Definitely not for me.

  8. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    Nope nope nope nope.

  9. chivo243 Silver badge

    Where's the opt out link?

    No, please, no oh god, please help me...

    1. BongoJoe
      Mushroom

      Re: Where's the opt out link?

      It's that little cross in the top right hand corner of that dialog box...

      No, wait...

  10. Avatar of They Silver badge
    Mushroom

    No.

    I can't think of anything worse than handing over all the keys to MS.

    A whole heap of No.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No.

      It gets worse than that.

      Imagine if you are a nice high-tech startup who is making money and has all its books etc on Azure and in this scheme...

      Then if MS decides 'hey that looks like a nice juocy takeover targer'

      Then the see the use of Azure.

      They can see all the books emails and other secret sauce before putting in a bit. A bit of blackmail and the company is there. nudge-nudge wink-wink and all that.

      The Borg is coming. Batten down the hatches.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No.

      I can't think of anything worse than handing over all the keys to MS.

      Let me point out the elephant in the room: They already have all the keys, with updates that can't be inspected or stopped.

      It's proprietary, and has internet access.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: No.

        "They already have all the keys, with updates that can't be inspected or stopped."

        Not here, they haven't.

  11. Christoph Silver badge

    All your computers are belong to us

    Microsoft will be able to invisibly siphon off whatever data they have decided they need/want. Can you trust that every Microsoft employee who ever has access to this can be relied on not to misuse it? Especially if you have compliance requirements to keep data secure.

    Can you trust that the US government will never lean on Microsoft to grab and hand over data?

    Can you trust that Microsoft will never leave a security hole by which attackers can have total access to every computer subscribed to this system?

  12. John70

    More jobs that will be outsourced/off-shored...

    You think no one wants an IT department.

    1. Arachnoid

      What used to be a Chinese/Indian accent at the end of the line is now evolving to a Eastern European chintzy brogue, so best called before lunch for a lucid response.

    2. phuzz Silver badge
      Facepalm

      You'll still need on-site sysadmins even if every single machine is being managed by Microsoft, because users typically need to be coached just to turn a monitor on or off. When they say there'll be 'one-click application installs', what will actually happen is that the user will click on ever possible piece of software, which will all be downloaded at once, knocking their computer and half the office offline in the process, before finally filling up the disk and crashing their computer, all while somehow not installing the one program they wanted.

      Yeah, we'll still have jobs in the future too.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @phuzz - I don't think so!

        There will no longer be a need for Windows sysadmins in the Microsoft brave new world. The Redmond giant firmly plants the knife in his most loyal followers and I rejoice. They deserve it for each time they had a good laugh at year of Linux on the Desktop. Yes, Windows was always better like a high tech, high performance shovel they used to dig a mass grave.

        Windows sysadmins trying to run for a safe place should go directly to BSDs because Microsoft is currently murdering Linux too. Cheers!

  13. This post has been deleted by its author

  14. Wellyboot Silver badge

    Prediction

    MS press release from the year 2030

    Due to customer feedback regarding the complicated pricing model of the MMD service we've simplified the cost to a simple 1 cent per mouse click or key press and are introducing a 'Macro development service' for those repetitive tasks at a mere $1,000 per day (macro changes due to MMD service improvements will be chargable).

    I'd put a joke icon but it's not funny.

  15. adnim Silver badge

    Eroding end user choice and control

    under the guise of convenience.

    Unfortunately I work for an almost exclusively MS shop. Fortunately I look after the Linux kit.

    1. wallaby

      Re: Eroding end user choice and control

      Again I see people bemoaning user choice being eroded - the simple fact is lots are still choosing Microsoft products - you cant argue for choice then whinge when people don't choose what you want them to.

      1. adnim Silver badge

        Re: Eroding end user choice and control

        "Again I see people bemoaning user choice being eroded" <-- There might be a reason for that :-)

        Initially ones choice is only limited by what is available. Microsoft being available and pretty much ubiquitous in the business space means most decision makers follow the herd and MS is chosen.

        Once this MS choice is made that is when the erosion of choice and control begins.

        I didn't down vote you by the way, your comment to me did not warrant one.

      2. Daniel von Asmuth Bronze badge
        Windows

        Re: Eroding end user choice and control

        " the simple fact is lots are still choosing Microsoft products"

        That's why they call it a monopoly, because Apple is the only competition. There are just no apps for your cell phone, unless it's on Windows 10.

  16. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    Problems

    For any company with legacy or specialized internal applications this will likely be problematic; too many examples of things going sideways to make the risk worthwhile. Also, the type of customer this would work best with is probably the ones that needed it the least. If you have a relatively vanilla installation with only garden-variety commercial packages this would probably work well. But this is a situation that is the easiest to manage for the an admin.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @a_yank-lurker - Re: Problems

      Do not underestimate the creativity of a management layer who strongly believe nobody has been fired for buying into Microsoft.

  17. BongoJoe

    What about the stuff that goes 'clunk'?

    From (bitter) experience not all of IT stuff is software related. Or, to be precise, Microsoft software related.

    What about getting third party applications to fit into the enterprise system. Stuff like, for example, clever printers, contact management systems and other stuff that firms may use. Because, like it or not, not everyone's business starts and stops with Microsoft Office and [bleedin'] Edge.

    These applications need to be integrated. Bespoke applications need to be written and all these have to be done under the watchful eye of a locally based IT department.

    Further, when it comes to issues not every issue is software related. Or, to be precise Microsoft software related issues. What about when a router starts to spout noise down a wire? Who is going to track that down and re-route the cabling? What about when a UPS starts to fail, who is going to check that? Who is going to do the off-site back-ups and data storage/destruction? Who, in actual fact, is going to replace the ink cartridges, get the right paper. Who is going to go to regular work-orientated social meetings with similar companies to discuss issues, requirements, vendors and future progression? It's not all going to be upgrade to the latest version of MS Word or Excel as the sole answer.

    This, even if it works (in terms of not falling over) is going to restrict advancement and progress in the workplace.

    There is not a single upside to this that I can think of.

  18. DJV Silver badge

    Microsoft Managed Desktop

    My eyes must need testing - I first read that as "Microsoft Damaged Desktop", which pretty much sums up Windows 10.

  19. J J Carter Silver badge

    Obviously...

    FAO BOFHs. GTF. That is all.

  20. This post has been deleted by its author

  21. Sir Loin Of Beef

    Ha!

    Software is only as good as the humans configuring it.

    1. hplasm Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Ha!

      "Software is only as good as the humans configuring it."

      Unless Microsoft, ,then the inverse applies.

  22. WolfFan Silver badge

    Highly objectionable pic

    The Borg Queen is retired and currently owns a very bad basketball team. And that pic makes her look almost human.

  23. deadlockvictim Silver badge

    Article» Moorhead hoped the telemetry will predict hardware failures, identify insecure or non-compliant apps, diagnose performance issues – such as problems with “bloaty drivers or the myriad security layers” – and help administrators get “the right kind of device to the right person.” ®

    Let me re-write that for you:

    Nadella hoped the telemetry will increase ad revenue, identify users with greater accuracy, diagnose price-performance issues – such as problems with people trying to turn telemetry off (the fools!) – and help marketers get “the right kind of device to the right person.” ®

  24. Zippy´s Sausage Factory
    Unhappy

    Basically, then, they want you to pay them for functions your staff currently do on the grounds that - right now - it's cheaper to get Microsoft to do it.

    I cynically expect that their long-term plan is that there will come a point when the staff who can take the job back over will be so scarce that Microsoft will be the only game in town...

  25. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Can it be long before I boot my workstation and am confronted by Nadella's face screaming "BRING ME A BLUE PAGE!" instead of the swirly window thingy that indicates I'll soon be browsing El Reg?

  26. iTechnomancer

    MSP's

    I'm worried about the dodgy MSP's that will try and resell this as their own product and charge even more, but somehow make it worse.

  27. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    FAIL

    Or worse still

    After 2025, m$ decided since the success of this service , that everyones PCs should work like this.

    And thus the age of the mainframe is reborn........ right upto the point where the data center with multiple protection against disconnection runs all the cables down a 4 inch pipe and across the carpark to be split off to various destinations.......... and theres a 16 yr old work experience kid with a digger.....

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm sure some beancounter could make what he believes to be a credible case for this. I think he should do it. The admin can quickly get a job somewhere else, and... well, the beancounter can call Microsoft when he can't get his Outlook calendar synced up correctly with his iPhone.

    It's almost like Microsoft has invented the employer-equivalent of wheat that sifts itself. Is there anything they can't do? /s

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "The admin can quickly get a job somewhere else"

      Preferably running his own business and abstracting copious quantities of beans from the counter every time something goes wrong.

  29. dubious

    target?

    Who's this aimed at? Even without sms/sccm, with pxe bootable re-imaging, GPOs, roaming desktops, and folder re-direction, I've never found managing hundreds of desktops to be what me or my team ever spent significant time on anyway.

  30. TechDrone

    MS control with DXC as a partner.

    So, that's all right then. Absolutely no worries there. They've never applied an update that has broken an entire customer now have they?

  31. FozzyBear Silver badge
    Devil

    After considered thought ( measured in micro seconds ) I have come to the conclusion of

    "No fucking way"

  32. Snow Wombat
    FAIL

    well.. I'd say go to Linux..but..

    Now that the rainbow hairs have taken over the project, Linux will be stone dead in it's current format, and just be maintained by the likes of Red Hat, and other corporate forks.

    The FOSS community will be too busy in flamewars over the proper use of pronouns, to produce anything useful.

    I don't see this catching on though, organisations would have to re write / replace FAR too many wheezing internal apps for this to be worthwhile.

  33. sackofspuds

    No third party agents allowed

    I have it on good authority that currently at least these MMD machines are not permitted to have any third party agents installed.

    Windows Defender Antivirus all round then.

    With so many CTOs wanting a one-stop shop then this seems to be a very smart move by Redmond. No wonder their shares currently have a PE ratio of 53.

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