Modern Device Management – It’s Time

On October 2, I watched with excitement through the evening as Microsoft announced their holiday line-up of devices to the world. Live streaming the event from New York, the announcements included iterations of existing devices or form factors that will be available in 2019, and some more future looking devices, including the Surface Neo and the Surface Duo devices, which will ship in 2020. If you’re yet to hear about these new names joining the Surface line-up, then let me introduce you to three ground breaking, and very cool new Surface family members:

Surface Neo

Surface Neo is a 9-inch dual-screen device that can fold 360 degrees. Equipped with touch, pen, onscreen keyboard and calling capability, it will run Windows 10X, which is a version of the operating system that is optimised for dual-display devices.

Surface Duo

Surface Duo is a dual-display tablet with 5.6-inch displays connected with a 360-degree hinge that will run the Android operating system. While the device is being touted as a tablet, it will also be able to make and receive calls.

Surface Pro X

The Surface Pro X is a new model in the Surface Pro range now available for purchase. With a virtually edge-to-edge display, this 2-in-1 laptop with LTE and 13” touchscreen is ultra-thin and always connected. However, the custom Microsoft SQ1 processor, powered by Qualcomm may well be its coolest feature, enabling awesome AI capabilities, maximising performance, productivity, connectivity, and battery life.


What will the Surface Neo, Duo and Pro X mean for device management?

In looking at these devices, the engineer in me came out. We’re now dealing with a new operating system (Windows 10X) for the dual-screen devices, and a completely new processor platform for the Surface Pro X. It got me reflecting on how customers are going to introduce these new devices into their environment, as I’m sure they’ll be in high demand from end users, particularly the new dual-screen form factors with highly-mobile workers.

Yet, as exciting as these new devices are, a specialised operating system and a new processor platform will certainly add complexity for the IT team in managing your device fleet. We know customers struggle with this already, 63% of IT Managers say their resources are drained by device management and they would like to be able to focus on more strategic IT projects.1

A catalyst for modern management

The short answer is – unless you have adopted the principles of modern management, it’s going to be challenging. In the case of the Surface Pro X, you just can’t do it. We began discussing this challenge over a year ago, when my colleague, Noel Fairclough, stated in a blog post that organisations need to ‘shift your mindset – not the workload’. He continued by saying that the “classical management techniques are not capable of abstracting the difference and applying the intelligence required in today’s IT world.” How right he is.

The current approach of taking a new device, and wiping out the operating system with an image, is decades-old. It’s time consuming, it’s hard to keep current, and it wipes out a pristine OEM-supplied operating system. It’s an approach we don’t really need any more; the days of loading down machines with bloatware are thankfully mostly long behind us today.

Today’s challenges with classic device management

This challenge is going to be exacerbated with the introduction of the next generation of Surface devices. We’ve been promoting the need to look at modern management, but if you ever needed a catalyst, then that time is now. The first challenge in using a traditional approach is the new operating system version in Windows 10X. You absolutely do not want to (if you will be able at all) to be building an image using Windows 10X for a dual-screen device, and then having to manage the multiple images you have now just inherited across different operating system versions, drivers, chipset models etc.

To offer you another example, in the new Surface Pro X, Microsoft developed a new ARM chipset with Qualcomm. The result is an ARM-based processor that brings together an integrated AI accelerator and Snapdragon 8cx chips. It also has Instant On and LTE Advanced Pro. It’s a beautiful, slim device that weighs practically nothing – and you can’t image it – you literally can’t take your existing image and apply it to that device on that chipset.

It’s time to change

We’ve been talking about modern management with customers for some time, but the time’s now here. If you want to adopt the new dual-screen devices, or the Surface Pro X, you have to adopt modern management. It’s just not optional. Trust me, your people are going to be asking for these new devices – they’re beautiful, fast and highly portable.

By adopting the principles of modern management, you can leverage the innovation that is being pushed through Microsoft Intune. The product itself is making rapid advances, where in many cases, Intune now meets the needs of many customers out of the box itself. Where legacy functionality is required, you can still co-manage with System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) to provide any legacy functionality gaps that Intune cannot provide.

Make no mistake though, Intune is the future for desktop management. The innovation is coming to Intune as was recently demonstrated through the release of Windows Autopilot. Forward-thinking organisations like Melbourne City Mission are already making the change:

“We wanted to use the latest technology, but not many people in the market have deployed Intune and Autopilot in this way before. Data#3 was the only company to offer that capability and skillset,” said Melbourne City Mission’s ICT Service Delivery Manager, Damith Ratnayake.

If you are a Microsoft Surface customer, you may be eligible to get assistance with adoption of Intune and Autopilot using Data#3’s Deploy Assist suite of services, so please contact a Surface Specialist or your Data#3 Account Manager for more information.

1. IDC (2017). Transforming Device Lifecycle Management with Device as a Service. [Online] Available at:

Tags: Device Management, Microsoft, Microsoft Intune, Microsoft Surface, Microsoft Surface Pro, Microsoft Windows Autopilot, Mobility, Modern Desktop Management, Modern Workplace, The Anywhere Workplace


Subscribe to our blog


eBook - Next Gen Doc Management
Next Generation Document Management in Education

No sector has transformed faster than education in recent times. However few schools or higher education organisations have gone…

Customer Story: A Cisco ACI Solution

Cisco ACI Solution Supports the Future of Business in Engineering Industry Objective When an ageing network infrastructure approached end of…

Data#3 recognised as a global finalist of 2021 Microsoft OEM Device Distributor/Reseller Partner of the Year

July 09, 2021; Brisbane, Australia: Leading Australian technology services and solutions provider, Data#3, today announced it has been named a…

Adobe Spark Teacher PD Video Resources
Adobe Spark and Microsoft Video Resources for Schools

As the preferred software partner for thousands of Australian schools, Data#3 invited educational specialists from Microsoft and Adobe…

Teams Vs Zoom: Weighing up the risks of video conferencing platforms

As we moved almost completely digital last year, video conferencing became the go-to for people and organisations needing to communicate,…

The End of Technology Waste with Technology Intelligence

If anyone doubted how closely technology use and business success are now entwined, navigating a path through a global pandemic…

Gain a 360-degree view of your infrastructure and support with Lifecycle 360

After a year of unexpected expenses, extreme pressure, and a lot of fast thinking, anything that can ease the burden…

What to consider before investing in meeting room hardware

We know everyone loves to have the newest, shiniest devices. Meeting room hardware is no different – with many organisations…