I’ve been managing Windows desktops for years and more recently I’ve been managing iOS devices (iPhones and iPads), too. During this time, I’ve noticed there are some key differences that make life easier or more challenging, depending upon the operating system. Here are five that I think everyone working on device management should know about.
1. It’s simpler to secure devices with iOS
When I have to think about securing a Windows desktop, I have to make sure an anti-virus program is installed, set up a firewall with the proper settings, encrypt the data on the device, and ensure that there’s a system in place for getting patches to the OS in an efficient manner.
With iOS, it’s a much simpler process. Anti-virus software isn’t needed, and iOS has built-in security features such as encryption, two-step verification and passcodes to the devices secure.
2. Application deployment is easier with iOS
When deploying an application to a Windows desktop, I have to take into account many steps in order to be prepared. These include finding where the application has been installed and building the installation package while considering the different scenarios that can go wrong as a result of a failed installation. I also need to understand the network topology in order to avoid network overload. Additionally, I must schedule the deployment during a suitable time and follow-up on the deployment and troubleshoot where necessary.
However, with iOS, not only are the application packages smaller, but all the steps needed for a successful deployment are built into the App store and iOS platform.
3. iOS is more restrictive when it comes to management agents
On Windows desktops, I’m able to install as many management agents as necessary. For example, I can install agents to collect inventory data, monitor software usage, deploy software, and monitor desktop performance.
iOS, on the other hand, only lets you install one management agent making management much more limited.
4. Remote control and screen sharing is impossible with iOS
When one of my end-users has an issue with their Windows device, I have a variety of different options available to tackle the issue. One of the most common ways to handle this is by connecting remotely to their desktop. Once on their screen, I can take control of their desktop to fix the problem just as if I was there in person.
However, with iOS devices, I don’t have that many options to assist remotely when I’m contacted by an end-user concerning an issue. The remote control and screen sharing feature is just not possible due to Apple’s terms and conditions. In short, the Apple’s public API doesn’t allow the necessary permissions in order to provide remote control.
5. User permissions on the device are more limited on iOS
When managing our company’s Windows devices, I have multiple options to define the permission levels for our end-users. This makes it possible to prevent our end-users from removing the remote administration tools, the ability to change the system settings, and prevent installing and uninstalling of applications.
On iOS devices, however, our end-users have more power as the administrator cannot assign permissions. That said, there are restrictions that can be put in place such as restricting the settings and certain functionalities.
Happily, during 2016, Apple released new features that allow company devices to have more management capabilities for administrators. Some examples include Apple Device Enrolment Program (DEP), and Apple Volume Purchasing Program (VPP).
These are just a few of the things I’ve discovered thus far, and I will keep investigating the differences. Needless to say, if you’ve noticed any differences in managing these two device platforms, we’d love to hear about them in the comments below.