Apple founder Steve Jobs loved Bob Dylan, who sang, “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.” Microsoft seems to have listened to Dylan’s advice and has launched an Apple tech community for IT professionals.
Welcome to Microsoft Mac Admins
The move reflects the steady growth of Macs across the enterprise, particularly in the US. Apple has done what everyone once saw as impossible, and its platforms now account for as much as 40% of enterprise PC deployments.
At the same time, Microsoft has been working hard to ensure that its solutions remain relevant across every platform, moving very much toward today’s environment of heterogenous computing under CEO Satya Nadella.
In a sense, Microsoft’s new Mac community reflects these winds of change.
Microsoft on Mac in the enterprise
Microsoft Intune Senior Product Manager Arnab Biswas announced the new Mac forum in a blog post.
“We were inspired to create this community based on feedback from many organizations who have adopted Microsoft 365 products, including Microsoft Intune, to manage Macs in the enterprise,” he wrote.
While the company stresses its community is not intended to replace official product support, Microsoft described its function as being a space for IT professionals “passionate and knowledgeable about using Microsoft products on Apple Mac devices in the enterprise.”
The move reflects that IT is making use of Microsoft Intune, Exchange, and other products from the company as part of its Apple management stack. The best third-party MDM providers, such as Jamf, already integrate Microsoft’s solutions in their offerings.
Seeing phenomenal growth in macOS management
The prevailing reality is that as Apple’s enterprise presence continues to grow, demand for use of Microsoft’s management solutions, such as Intune, on that platform is also increasing. That’s good for all parties, particularly in mixed computing and legacy environments.
“Mac management has been a focus for Microsoft 365 that is demonstrated in the macOS capabilities offered and we continue to see phenomenal growth and customer-interest in macOS management. So, we wanted to provide a platform where organizations, and specifically the IT community, can showcase their achievements, exchange tips and tricks, and collaborate with other Microsoft 365 or Intune administrators around the world,” wrote Biswas.
Who can join? What do you get?
The community is available to anyone with a Microsoft 365 account. Like the powerful Mac Admins community on Slack, you can ask questions, answer them, provide feedback, and take part in discussions that related to Microsoft 365 on Mac.
The community will also offer an archive of previous posts, comments, and advice. Microsoft staff moderate the forum.
In the background
Employee choice is a growing force in technology deployment. Some of the world’s leading companies now understand that as work has become increasingly reliant on tech, the technology chosen has become the employee experience.
Workers do not want to live like the Jetsons at home and the Flintstones at work. They want to use the best available technologies to get work done — and employers want to keep them.
Given a choice, employees overwhelmingly prefer the Mac. Cisco earlier this year confirmed that two thirds of employees would use a Mac at work if given the choice. At the beginning of 2023, around 56,000 Macs were used at Cisco, along with 68,000 Windows PCs.
There’s little doubt that Mac use at the company will continue to grow as tech upgrades take place. When given the chance to make a choice, 24% of existing employees using Windows would switch to Mac, Cisco said. This is not the only major enterprise client to be making a rapid transition to the Mac.
Microsoft clearly understands this, and while its consumer PC business remains important to the company, its main growth driver today is in services and infrastructure.
The new Microsoft community for Mac admins is ample demonstration of that.