Microsoft shows IT how to get bigger bang from Windows Analytics

New documentation, still in draft form, details how companies can craft specialized reports and custom alerts from Windows Analytics' data and integrate the data with other info.

Microsoft has published preliminary documentation that enterprise IT can use to customize reports generated by the free Windows Analytics service.

The documentation, emblazoned with "Draft," spelled out how internal staff - or Microsoft partners in the business of producing custom solutions - can craft specialized reports and build custom alerts from Windows Analytics' data, and integrate its data with other information for more in-depth analysis.

Windows Analytics is the umbrella label for three separate services - Upgrade Readiness, Update Compliance and Device Heath - which each pull from the telemetry Microsoft collects from Windows PCs. Windows Analytics is a benefit of Windows 10 Enterprise and Windows 10 Education licensing, and so is available only to customers running those editions.

The services offer insights for devices powered by an Enterprise or Education SKU (stock-selling unit), such as Windows 10 Education or Windows 7 Enterprise.

Of the trio, only Upgrade Readiness harvests data from Windows editions other than Windows 10. As its name implies, that service identifies the Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 PCs most likely to successfully migrate to Windows 10. Upgrade Readiness also pinpoints Windows 10 systems that have the best shot at moving to the next feature upgrade, like this year's 1803 or 1809.

The remaining two services, Update Compliance and Device Health, report the update deployment status of Windows 10 PCs, and monitor and report on some of the most common problems on an organization's devices, respectively.

While IT administrators can generate reports from the Windows Analytics dashboard, the advanced functionality can be accessed using the now-documented APIs (application programming interfaces) and called with the ready-to-use examples (or PowerBI templates). Or the examples and templates can be rigged to do custom jobs.

"There is also an underlying data platform that can be used by IT admins, partners and ISVs [independent software vendors] to extend the built-in functionality and unlock additional value," the documentation says.

Because Windows Analytics' data is stored in Azure Log Analytics, using the API requires knowledge of the underlying Analytics data schema, and knowing how to retrieve that data from Azure Log Analytics, Microsoft said.

Customers who do create custom reports or alerts, or merge Windows Analytics' data with their own, will have to redo that work down the road, Microsoft noted. "Disclaimer: This [data] schema is subject to change as breaking changes will be introduced in the next year, so any queries you create will need to be forward ported at that time," the documentation said.

The Windows Analytics Extensibility documentation can be viewed in Microsoft Word format from here. That previewed document can be saved to local storage by clicking the small blue icon in the lower right of the page.

Microsoft also revised a lengthy FAQ on Windows Analytics, and consolidated troubleshooting advice, posting that content on its Windows IT Pro Center website.

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