Microsoft hands IT admins beefed-up Windows release health hub

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The Windows release health dashboard, which the company previewed at its Ignite conference, details known issues and blockers affecting Windows 10

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31 March 2021 | 0

Microsoft has begun rolling out its Windows release health dashboard to the Microsoft 365 admin portal, a move the company previewed earlier this month at its all-virtual Ignite conference.

“This will be a phased rollout and we expect this information experience to be available to all applicable customers by the end of April,” Mabel Gomes, senior communications program manager in the Windows group, said in a 25 March post to a company blog.

The original Windows release health launched almost two years ago as one of the changes Microsoft instituted after the disastrous debut of Windows 10 1809, the fall 2018 version of the operating system that had to be yanked from release because it deleted data.

 

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That dashboard – later labeled a ‘hub’ – has offered information on current rollout status and known issues, both open and closed cases, for all Windows 10 updates. Notably, the hub was the one public location where Microsoft posted information about all Windows 10 blockers, issues that have prevented machines from upgrading to the next refresh (and thus marked the systems Microsoft would refuse to offer an update).

The public release health hub can be found here.

The Windows release health being added to the Microsoft 365 admin centre will be similar but not identical to the existing hub; essentially, it will be ‘public hub-plus’.

“Because the admin centre is specifically designed for IT admins, you will find greater technical detail about known issues, earlier reminders about important milestones like end of service, and more resources to help you plan for and deploy Windows updates,” Gomes wrote about the release health add-in. “Our goal is to help you diagnose issues in your environment fast, provide steps to mitigate them quickly, and provide a root cause analysis for better support.”

To access Windows release health in the admin portal, customers must be subscribers to Microsoft 365 Enterprise E3/A3/F3, Microsoft 365 Enterprise E5/A5, Windows 10 Enterprise E3/A3 or Windows 10 Enterprise E5/A5.

Interestingly, Microsoft denied that release health “monitor[s] user environments or collect customer environment information,” to, for example, post blocker information specific to the OS version(s) being run by an organisation. In the next breath, though, Microsoft acknowledged that “future iterations of [release health] may target content based on customer location, industry, or Windows version.”

The latter would seem to be a selling point for release health in the admin center, since it would only display information that  affected the firm’s own Windows 10 PCs. Most likely, if or when Microsoft does focus release health on the on-premises devices, it will use the telemetry collected by the operating system to do so, the same telemetry utilised by Desktop Analytics (née Windows Analytics).

A more detailed explanation of what the admin center’s release health component offers can be found on Microsoft’s Docs site. Currently, only the cloud-based portal includes release health. Microsoft said that it’s working on integrating release health with the Microsoft 365 Admin mobile app – iOS and Android – “in a future release”.

IDG News Service


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