Last week, the Internet was awash with celebrations of Back to the Future day – that date in the second film that Doc Brown & Marty McFly travelled to from 1985. Sadly, we still don’t have hoverboards. But the future is now the past.


That sentence rings true in the IT industry, with an accelerated pace of product developments happening while you’re keeping the network, servers and backups running. We’ve talked about how you keep up with all the changes in Technology has changed – have you?


Now let’s look at some of the Microsoft technology that’s changed in the last 12 months and what this means for Sys Admins ... starting with Windows 10.


At the last PR opportunity, Microsoft announced that Windows 10 was now on 110 million devices, averaging 1.6 million installations per day since its release. This includes 8 million business PCs, so 102 million of those upgraded PCs were consumer devices. That leaves significant room for growth in the business PCs number. And you know exactly why. Most Enterprises are not yet ready to roll out Windows 10. Heck, some of them are still getting rid of Windows Server 2003.


If your organization is running Windows 7, it has ‘extended support’ until Jan 14, 2020. This means you’ll still get security patches but you won’t get product updates, and there were a ton of them in Windows 10, including:

  • Cortana on the desktop: searching apps you have installed, apps you could install, documents you can access and results from the web & other services that integrate with Cortana.
  • Action center and notifications, similar to your phone. ‘Quiet hours’ is my favorite, suppressing all app notifications until I turn them on again.
  • Edge browser: Banishes all the browser plugins, but Enterprise admins can configure specific sites to still open with IE for backwards compatibility.
  • Multiple desktops: Lets you group applications on a virtual desktop, so you can switch between projects, or share one desktop during a conference call while the other has the apps you don’t want to share.
  • Windows Hello & Windows Passport: Bringing biometric sign-in support (face, iris or fingerprint) to newer hardware devices, or a 4 digit PIN for older hardware. Is that the end of the forgotten password?
  • .. and you get to keep your Start menu, which now also supports tiles!


Enterprise Edition sys admins can look forward to:


The Windows Store for Business is available for users with an Azure AD account. This gives staff access to install corporate apps or third party approved apps that are licensed at a business level, from within the Windows Store without entering their personal credit card.


For sys admins, Windows 10 has changed the upgrade process, which is big news for those of us that prefer a ‘wipe and reload’ strategy. The new ‘In-Place Upgrade’ actually automates all the things we’d do with a wipe and reload. It captures the data & settings, moves the existing OS, installs the new OS image and restores the data & settings. This can be managed with System Center Configuration Manager or the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit. If you don’t use SCCM within your organization, I highly recommend you take a look at the MDT.


Windows 10 also changes how we receive & roll out operating system updates. Known as ‘Windows as a Service’, it’s not a subscription model but a delivery model of when updates will be rolled out and who will get them. Microsoft slices the market into Consumer (Current Branch), Business (Current Branch for business) and Specialized systems (Long term service branch). Current Branch for Business are environments controlled by WSUS, MDM or Configuration Manager and allow you to split your organization’s devices into 4 ‘rings’ over a period of 8 months for a staggered update deployment.

Check out Michael Beck’s Ignite session: Windows as a Service: What does it mean for your business?

In conclusion, the significant amount of changes to Windows 10 means more learning and planning for sys admins than your last operating system upgrade, but it might be your last big learning curve. Has your organization started rolling out Windows 10 yet? Do you have it in your test lab? What’s your biggest challenge with adopting the new operating system?




P.S. Infrastructure Technical Evangelist Simon May has put together 15+ killer Windows 10 resources for IT admins