Microsoft announced their Windows 10 Anniversary Update for an August release earlier in the year. At TD, we’re excited about this announcement as it brings even more features and functionality to the already great Windows 10 Operating System.
We’ve summarised what we believe are the top features coming out of the Anniversary Update, as well as answering the biggest question faced by IT departments with Windows 10… Why upgrade at all?
The Big Question – Why Upgrade?
As a Microsoft Gold Partner, one of the biggest questions we get asked, is “Why should I upgrade?”. Simply put, it comes down to 4 key reasons:
- Security – Since the release of Windows 7, the security landscape has completely changed. From StuxNet to Cryptolocker, IT Admins have had to change their infrastructure to fight the various methods in which people have attempted to steal data or blackmail organisations. With Windows 10, Microsoft have built their most stable and secure client Operating System, providing identity, data, device and network protection that is simply not available in Windows 7. Features such as Windows Information Protection gates user data and app access to protected data based on defined policies, protecting organisation data wherever it’s stored. The benefit is a more secure client OS saves time for administrators in a non-quantifiable manner, while the prevention of attacks of organisational data saves money in a quantifiable capacity.
- Familiarity – Let’s face it, Windows 8 and 8.1 were not easy Operating Systems to use without the Start menu, despite the of best intentions. Users hated using it, and were often jarred in their experience. Because of this, a lot of organisations skipped the update, leaving the last client update to Windows 7, which was released 7 years ago now. In this time, the expectations of what a client Operating System for end users has changed with the advent of mobile working. Windows 10 provides that new experience to users, while providing familiarity with the return of Start menu. Not having to re-educate users in their workflows is an indirect cost saving in terms of lost time and speed to perform tasks.
- Simplification – In the past, IT departments have had complex deployment paths to roll out a new operating system with new corporate images. Windows 10 brings new flexibility in this methodology, with new technical features such as Azure Active Directory Join and services through Office 365, ensuring end users bringing their own Windows 10 Devices can simply be enabled for access to corporate data in a way that Windows 7 could never achieve. This decreased “time to working” saves IT administrators time, whilst also ensuring new employees and existing employees receiving new machines can hit the ground running faster.
- Simplify IT and save costs. Windows 10 is Microsoft’s last major Windows system release. With Windows as a Service, Microsoft have commenced the journey to simplifying the delivery and management of Windows, while offering flexible management and deployment options. With this new model, Microsoft have one Windows, one app platform, one security model, and one management approach that can simplify IT by reducing complexity and reduce operating costs.
Windows 10 Anniversary Update Features
Here are the new features coming to the Windows 10 Anniversary Update:
Microsoft Edge Browser Extensions
As promised, Microsoft have announced the release of Browser Extensions for Microsoft Edge, providing yet another reason to ditch Chrome, Firefox or Internet Explorer as the browser of choice. While the number of applications is limited at this time, it’ll expand quickly.
New Start Menu features
Microsoft have tweaked the overall Start menu experience, bringing greater functionality and use to the recently returned Start Menu. Pin your go-to apps and files for fast access – you can even pin underlying content to jump right into a specific post or song. Live Tiles beam updated information, such as, weather and headlines removing the time spent locating and opening a chosen app. With this update, Microsoft have added more functionality to improve productivity, rather than the Start Menu solely being a tool to navigate elsewhere.
In the Anniversary Update to Windows 10, the Windows Ink Workspace and new inking improvements completely change what it’s like to use a digital pen on Windows. Microsoft are clearly moving into the VR space with upcoming innovations, such as HoloLens holographics – allowing users to use gestures to interact with 3D content. The idea behind this is providing a more natural interaction to your data, introducing complex IT functions to users who previously may not have the IT skillset required to perform advanced tasks.
One of the biggest changes to Action Center in the Windows 10 Anniversary Update is the synchronisation of notifications across devices. Devices with Cortana installed and configured to receive notifications will now be able to receive and dismiss application notifications in a centralised fashion, reducing the time needed to remove notifications for the end user. Speaking of Cortana…
Cortana has now been extended to reach outside of the Windows 10 Start menu. With Windows 10 Anniversary Update, Cortana can now access Active Directory account emails and calendars. As an example, users could set a reminder on their PC to call their manager when they arrive at work. Cortana would then notice when the user arrives at work, sending the reminder notification.
Outside of Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile, Cortana is now available on Android, IOS as well as Cyanogen; further demonstrating the overall holistic strategy Microsoft are moving towards with their products and services.
Additionally, Cortana profiles can be created, personalised and managed through Azure Active Directory (AAD) sign in. When employees leave the organisation, IT administrators can now simply and easily remove their AAD profile, ensuring greater control to administrators is sustained as more cloud based services enter an organisation.
Windows Hello Extension into web browser and apps
Windows Hello was introduced in Windows 10, positioned as a convenient enterprise-grade alternative to passwords that was designed for today’s mobile-first world.
It uses a natural (bio metrics) or familiar (PIN) means to validate a user’s identity using the devices they already have. It does not require additional external hardware (e.g.: Smart cards) and/or infrastructure. Windows Hello is based on an industry security standard (FIDO 2.0), providing an identity option that is phish-proof and can be resistant to breaches in data centre infrastructure.
With the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, Microsoft have extended this functionality into the Edge web browser as well as other SAAS based services like Office 365, Azure Apps such as Dynamics CRM – and even non-Microsoft apps such as Dropbox. This provides a level of security into SAAS and local services unseen in the current IT landscape.
Windows Defender ATP
Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) enables Windows Enterprise customers to detect, investigate, and remediate advanced persistent threats and data breaches on their networks. Windows Defender ATP combines Windows next-generation endpoint behavioural sensors with Microsoft’s cloud-powered threat intelligence, security, Machine Learning analytics, and expert human advanced persistent threat (APT) hunters to provide enterprises with correlated, actionable attack detection and remediation.
This is an amazing feature, and when running alongside any anti-virus (AV) solution, Windows Defender ATP is continuously up-to-date and can help lower costs.
For the engineers!
As a bonus, we decided to add a section for the engineers and administrators out there – it’s not all sales after all!
This one surprised everyone here at TD! With the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, users will be able to run bash within a command prompt window.
While this feature has somewhat been available to Windows “power” users via 3rd party applications for a while in various capacities, Microsoft have partnered with Canonical (the creators of Ubuntu) to add native Bash support to Windows 10. Even more surprising is that this isn’t an emulator or even a Linux Virtual Machine running within client Hyper-V, but a new infrastructure feature called Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL). Because of this, you can now enter bash and run Ubuntu user mode natively from within Windows, giving end users access to Linux tools.
So with all the industry buzz around Docker and container virtualisation in general, it’s no surprise that the Windows 10 Anniversary Update introduces some kind of container functionality to client Hyper-V. For developers, this is a huge feature and will allow the segregated development of cloud based applications that many developers have come to know and love through Docker.
Since Hyper-V Containers utilise their own instance of the Windows kernel, this functionality really is a server container all the way down the kernel. Combined with the flexibility of Windows container runtimes, containers built on Windows 10 can be run on Windows Server 2016 as either Windows Server Containers or Hyper-V Containers
Config Manager Current Branch
Not to be outdone by the number of updates from the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, the Config Manager team have announced a series of updates coming to Config Manager Current Branch 1606 . There are a number of updates to Config Manager itself, as well as the supportability of Windows 10 Anniversary Update and beyond. Config Manager Current Branch 1606 will introduce the support of Windows 10 Anniversary Update, meaning that older versions of Config Manager will no longer guarantee supportability from below CU 1606. These changes were announced on the Config Manager blog FAQ a while back, and can be viewed here.
If you’re considering the move to Windows 10 (and why wouldn’t you at this point!), there are a few things that need to be setup in your environment before a deployment of the Windows 10 Anniversary Update.
- Config Manager Current Branch 1606 – This is going to be a required update or upgrade to your existing Config Manager Infrastructure.
- Windows 10 Proof of Concept – If you’re running Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8 or 8.1, it’s time to prove that Windows 10 will work in your environment with your apps.
- Active Directory – If you’re looking to use Windows Hello, there are some requirements with your Domain Controllers and Forest in order, specifically to enable a feature now known as Microsoft Passport for work, introduced in Server 2016. There is a great technet post available here for more info. Essentially, you won’t need to replace all your domain controllers, but you’ll need to introduce a Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview Domain Controller into the Forest and extend the schema for these features.
As a technology partner with many organisations, TD can help guide, design, build and deploy all of the above steps required for an optimal Windows 10 Anniversary Update deployment. Since its inception in 2015, TD has implemented Windows 10 to over twenty customers – averaging two Windows 10 deployments every month, collating to over 3000 hours of experience in deploying Windows 10 to organisations thus far.
Contact TD today to commence your journey to Windows 10.