Microsoft has announced the release of Enterprise State Roaming for Windows 10 business customers in one of their regular Azure feature & pricing update emails. This feature brings user and app state roaming to the enterprise, similar to what consumers have had through OneDrive since Windows 8.0 and later.
What is Enterprise State Roaming?
This new service brings together Windows 10 and Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) to allow end users to synchronize their user settings and application settings/data across multiple devices using the power of the cloud. This is the sort of thing that users have experienced since Windows 8 if they associated their login with a Microsoft account; you change your wallpaper on a PC and, miraculously, it appears on all of your other associated devices. Microsoft wanted to bring this same sort of unified experience to enterprise users, but by using the power of the work account (an account that is synchronized with Azure AD).
Enterprises need a bit more than consumers, so Microsoft added some additional functionality:
- A line between personal and consumer data: This is something similar to what we have seen with app control in Microsoft Intune. Organizations need control of their data, so corporate data is not in a consumer cloud and consumer data is not in an enterprise cloud account.
- Additional security: Data does not leave Windows 10 without being automatically encrypted using Azure Rights Management Services (which will become Azure Information Protection later this calendar year). Data remains encrypted while at rest in the cloud, protecting your business from unwanted inspection or theft.
- Management: Security is one thing, but who is doing what and where does your data reside? You have control and visibility over who is syncing data and onto what devices.
What is Synchronized?
Microsoft has published a full list of what settings can synchronize or be backed up for Windows 10 PCs – note that Windows 10 Mobile is also supported for a subset of features.
Quite a few settings can be synchronized. You can learn more using the above listing and by reading the FAQ for Enterprise State Roaming.
Enterprise State Roaming is available now, to all customers with Azure AD Premium, the per-user paid-for step from the free Azure subscription you get with Microsoft’s enterprise cloud services, such as Office 365. You can purchase Azure AD Premium through the CSP (Cloud Solutions Provider) or volume licensing channels, either by itself or as a part of the Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS) bundle.
Note that you do not get Enterprise State Roaming in your Azure subscription, even though Azure powers the solution; you must step up your free Azure AD subscription to Azure AD Premium.
Note that Enterprise State Roaming is limited to a subset of Azure regions at this time, but it will probably be rolled out further over the coming months.
Please note that Enterprise State Roaming is not supported on Windows Server SKUs so tis might impact your design choices if you are using Windows Server licensing for cost effective (or hosted) VDI licensing. In that case, Microsoft would recommend the use of UE-V (not roaming profiles).