For the executive planning IT strategy for enterprises, there are key consideration areas in Windows 10 as evidenced by examining the preview (available through the Insiders program) and coming updates prior to release this year summer (perhaps as early as July as noted by the AMD CEO).
Priorities such as consistency increased productivity, mobile and cloud first, security focus, consumer to enterprise usage alignment, the new Web and embracing big data analytics comes to mind. One Windows operating system across the diversity of devices aligned with the priorities makes sense. Windows 10 provides the foundation for the new digital reality through multiple layers for consumers to enterprise administrators supporting strategic business goals.
Here are the top 6 elements that make taking a close look at Windows 10 an imperative for IT executives and their teams in the enterprise.
Number 1: Windows Hello, Passport, Device Guard
Windows Hello uses biometric authentication such as your face, eye or finger on special supported hardware that has an infrared camera (eg. Intel’s RealSense F200 camera technology (infrared lasers, multiple lenses, processing chip) for facial/iris recognition or a fingerprint reader. Passport allows sign-in without using passwords where Windows 10 will authenticate on your behalf and works with enterprise Azure Active Directory services. With Windows Hello and Microsoft Passport, you have system-wide support for biometric authentication with two-factor authentication. Device Guard gives the ability to lock down devices against new malware as well as Advanced Persistent Threats (APT’s) by allowing only trusted apps signed by software vendors, from the Windows Store, or Universal/Win32 apps signed your organization using easy to use provided tools. When executing an app and determining its trustworthiness Device Guard uses hardware and virtualization to isolate problematic apps from the rest of the operating system thus protecting against hackers and malware that have gained full system privilege. Working together with anti-virus solutions, Device Guard would block executable and script based malware and traditional anti-virus protects against just-in-time apps like Java and document macros.
Number 2: Mobile Device Management (MDM), System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) and more
The MDM container layer in Windows 10 provides a consistent management interface across devices (desktops, laptops, tablets, phones,…), device wiping, Windows Store full control, data protection policies, managing multiple users, VPN configuration plus data leakage protection–a first amongst the top three operating systems. Unlike IOS, Windows 10 allows the sharing of content between corporate and personal apps with your IT department logging the event. Intune with its mobile device/application management and PC management from the cloud and System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) will provide support for Windows 10 container technology. The management options also include Microsoft Active Directory (AD) with identity and security capabilities. Azure Active Directory (AAD) users can login with Azure accounts, add their Azure ID for access to apps and resources. There are significant improvements when using AD and AAD together by allowing users to be automatically signed into Office 365, Intune, the Windows Store.
As noted by Microsoft’s Jim Alkove, “with Windows 10, we also allow for choice between Active Directory, Group Policy, and System Center Configuration Manager for corporate-owned devices that are frequently connected to the corporate network, or Azure Active Directory and MDM for devices that are typically mobile and internet-connected.”
Number 3: Windows Store
There is a unified Windows Store with universal apps working across all devices and a new web-based Store portal with the ability to create your own private section for your company stocked with acquired Store apps and uploaded custom apps. Your IT department can bulk acquire apps by signing in with an Azure Active Directory identity and assign apps to people in your company. If you have your own private company portal with a catalog of apps, you can acquire new Store portal apps and display them within your private portal using API-level integration of your management tools and the Windows Store. You can fully control Windows Store using an array of capabilities with System Center Configuration Manager, Microsoft Intune and mobile device management (MDM).
Number 4: Cortana
Though work is still progressing with Cortana, it’s worth spotlighting the inherent artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities with deep, machine learning where computers mimic the brain’s neural networks, as many are not familiar with these features to be found in the final version of Windows 10. Bill Gates cemented this with his thoughts as to where this will go in his Reddit hosted AMA, “One project I am working on with Microsoft is the Personal Agent which will remember everything and help you go back and find things and help you pick what things to pay attention to. The idea that you have to find applications and pick them and they each are trying to tell you what is new is just not the efficient model – the agent will help solve this. It will work across all your devices.”
In addition, AI is increasingly integrated into Bing predictions capabilities, Skype real-time universal translator, and the cloud in Azure with machine learning, analytics tools and the acquisition of Revolution Analytics closing recently–their R programming language the most widely used for statistical computing and predictive analytics. With the looming digital quake where the majority of jobs and companies will be lost, these areas must be embraced by enterprises to succeed. Cortana offers capabilities of a digital assistant more advanced than its competitors Siri and Google Now.
Related to this work in AI is one exciting transformational technology which overlays your world with holograms through Microsoft’s self-contained HoloLens augmented reality head-mounted display, with its own processor. As examples, HoloLens allows seamless augmented reality with a photo-realistic Martian landscape where you can use your fingers and voice to interact with the environment. The interaction is so effective that NASA will use it to work with their Mars rovers with scientists appearing as avatars.
Like a human assistant, Cortana maintains an editable notebook of areas important to you, much like a human assistant, such as interests, reminder items, quiet hours, your inner circle, music searches, your name, data embedded in social media like Facebook. Cortana can give you reminders to take action when you reach a destination, provide you direct answers, launch apps and gives you control over its knowledge about you. Cortana provides you a daily digest of areas important to you such as headline news and weather through Daily Glance. You can converse with Cortana by saying Hey Cortana, have her call you by name and even summon jokes. Cortana understands you and grows masterful with time by scanning your email as an example. Cortana can help you with your fitness routine, give you travel information with reminders and travel times, find and play music, show you photos, give you reminders based upon conditions being met. Sounds like a precursor to the personal assistant in the movie, HER.
Number 5: Browsing the new web
The addition of Project Spartan is a fast, compatible, secure, reliable and interoperable browser with new rendering engine that will yield future improvements for the modern web— is an essential for the enterprise and the reality to grow the use case for IT professionals and enterprise users. I spend every day on a browser and this experience is common and repeated across devices. I spend as much time on a tablet as a phone and notebook. Project Spartan addresses this usage with many features. You can write/type on a webpage and share or use Notes, Reading List allows collection of content you want to save and read later. Reading view permits reading without distractions. Spartan exists side-by-side with IE11, the implementation scenario for enterprises is that you need both for a time. Since Spartan is not the default, you can pin it to the Start Screen from the All Apps list.
Number 6: Technical preview build 10061 updates and much more!
Microsoft provides two ways to receive Windows Updates termed: fast ring and slow ring. Slow means more stability in the technical preview releases and fast provides you with the latest additions though more buggy. Build 10061 was just released via the fast ring with 10041 being the last release slow ring. The updates will install automatically or you can go to Settings, Update & security, Windows Updates, select Check-for-updates. Microsoft is sending out builds more frequently to Windows Insiders who have selected “Fast” preview builds. To switch builds (fast or slow) on your PC, go to Settings, Update & recovery, Advanced options. For your phone, go to the Windows Insider app. To get the latest update news and fixes, go to Insider Hub in the Start menu on your PC. A Hub for phones is coming soon. Upon final release, Windows 10 Windows Updates will provide all the flexibility and customization required in the enterprise so worth checking out further.
Windows 10 has the new built-in universal apps the work across devices with performance enhanced Outlook Mail and Outlook Calendar, 3-pane email user interface, toggling to easily move between apps and connecting to most major systems including Exchange, Outlook.com, Office 365, IMAP/POP, Yahoo!, Gmail, Google Calendar. Outlook Mail takes your long experiences with MS Word speeding email creation—I am all for this after spending much of my time in email! With the wide proliferation and acceptance of touch, swipes are in your vocabulary of gestures and you can use them to delete, move, flag and more.
You have a desktop view upon start-up and you can then toggle by clicking the Start button or pressing the Windows button to the resizable Start menu and Taskbar which features transparency. There is support for AutoColor pulling the primary color from your desktop background and with Settings, Personalization, you can adjust the color and transparency of Start, Taskbar, and Action Center. With the Start Menu, you have the best of both worlds, the desk-top combined with the live tiles found in 8.1 integrated into the Start Menu. On the left-side you have File Explorer, Documents and Settings, most used apps, the ability to see all apps listed in alpha-order; bottom left the power button. On the middle-to-right-side you see the 8.1-like live tiles; on the far-right, there is a button to expand/shrink the Start menu (to/from full screen). Called Continuum, Windows 10 will detect the type of device you are using and optimize accordingly: keyboard/touchpad-(plus enhanced gestures) with mouse or touch. When I get my Surface Pro 4 (joking) this week, Windows 10 will auto-detect the keyboard and allow the use of the small Start menu and then optionally expand to the full-screen Start menu when operating in pure tablet mode. In addition tablet mode causes:
– the Start button, Cortana, Task View buttons to be bigger and spaced out for touchability
– Notification items to widen
– pinned and running apps are removed reducing clutter
– you can boot directly into Tablet Mode which is the default for tablets under 10 inches
You can create Virtual Desktops aplenty since a new overflow feature allows you to access any one of your desktops.
Managing your contacts across major services inside and outside of Microsoft is easier with the universal People app and this fact is just going to increase rapidly.
With Maps, there is a single universal app integrating capabilities with Bing Maps and Here maps with capabilities including search results and favorites roaming with you no matter the device, local data by tapping the search box to list popular categories (restaurants, coffee, hotels), aerial and 3D view, 360 degree street imagery, voice-guided navigation. Pinch to zoom, rotate and scroll/tilt with two fingers, tap on a label for details, tap on the Show my location button to zoom to your current location, tap the Map views button for aerial view or traffic data. Enter a desired attraction and you get location, contact information, images, reviews, reservation ability, local eateries, other attractions/activities. The voice-guided navigation comes from Here maps with day/night modes, speed limit notifications, the ability to download and fully use offline maps.
Use these TechNet resources provided with the last build:
Windows 10 Enterprise Technical Preview: FAQ for IT professionals
Try it out: Windows 10 Enterprise Technical Preview
Windows 10 Technical Preview IT pro forums
Windows 10 for Enterprise: More secure and up to date