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Windows 10 Brings Us The Future

Level 13

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


Interesting...  Some of those windows 10 features would be nice to utilize at home to prevent kids from installing and running certain things since you can have a "small enterprise" at home.

Level 17

Nice, thanks for the details.

Level 13

Counting the number of cryptolocker infections in home computer - absolutely that would be great! I'm not if the home market appreciates being locked down though, and Microsoft has tended to leave protection from 'the bad stuff' to the AV and anti-malware vendors.

Any plans for Windows 10 in your organization?

Level 13

My pleasure. In upcoming posts I'll be looking at Office 2016, Office 365 and some lesser known Microsoft products too.

Any plans for Windows 10 in your organization?

It's always a push to get OS upgrades done with any kind of alacrity, due to the sheer number of boxes we have, and the matching number of special Health Care Industry applications that are only FDA approved on older OS versions.  Fortunately, perhaps 25,000 or 30,000 of our systems are TC's running Citrix.  But any OS change ends up running into medical systems that won't support it.

We're still dealing with legacy "mission critical" systems that run Windows 95 and Server 2003 and XP.  Security is all over our Desktop Support teams to get those dealt with, or isolate them deeply from vulnerabilities.

Change is interesting here.

Level 13

I can imagine! Microsoft has built the Long Term Servicing branch into Windows 10 for that very reason, but it relies on you getting to Windows 10 first. Let's hope it makes the future easier for your legacy systems to stay 'behind' until the application vendors catch up.

Quite often I see that the roadblock to upgrading is the application vendors. Does Apple have the same problem? They don't seem to on iOS (completely different platform, I know), because if you don't update your app for the new version, your users wont be able to run it and will look for a competitors product instead. Not too many competitors in line of business apps and where there is, the pain of changing apps is worse than the pain of just staying with an older OS.


Not anytime soon...

Level 14

Looks like Windows 10 will be happening at home very soon.  Work, however, is a different story.

Level 10

Our CIO is pretty aggressive with new MS products.  We have Win 10 ENT in use for some of IT (I have it on my workstation and Surface Pro 3), and plan to roll out for all of IT by the end of the year (@ 200 staff).  Then the rest of the organization, beginning in Spring.

It's not as big a deal for us, as half our desktops are on 8.1 anyway.  Not a huge change.  I'm mostly interested in how the updates will play out (we use WSUS).  I've read what they say, but am curious as to how well this is going to work.

And apps... yes, it's apps that make this difficult.  Java dependencies are the worst.

Level 13

I'm picking that's going to be the most common answer!

Level 13

A very common story! Another challenge for Microsoft is the huge variety of hardware is has to be happy on, that they have no control over. So if there are any device driver updates or hardware compatibility issues in general, Microsoft look bad because Windows 10 'failed'. Personal experience:It upgraded happily on my ageing Asus laptop from 8.1 and the performance flies, but the SSD and 8GB RAM help. Upgraded fine on my Surface Pro 2 as well and I like the tablet mode when I detach the keyboard.

Level 13

You lost me at Java

It's refreshing to see an organization that has a 'present timeframe' rollout plan.

And I hear ya re the WSUS updates, branches and internal rings. Sounds good in theory but show me the technical documentation of how we set all that up so we can play!

Are you using SCCM and/or MDT for the rollout?

Level 10

SCCM.  I'm not with that group anymore, so I don't know much detail, but they've been able to upgrade some of XP to 7 and 7 to 8.1, so it seems to be working well.

I shot them a message the other day, pointing out that MS now recommends in-place upgrades, as opposed to wipe & install... this would save them a lot of time in some areas which use a lot of specialized apps.  Not sure if they are going to try it.  I ran in-place on my Dell T3600 (coming from 8.1), and it ran great.  Just needed video drivers.  Took about 1.5 hours.

Level 13

Microsoft is having a fun time trying to convince sys admins that the in place upgrade is not how we know it! I can understand the hesitation based on history, but it really is a completely new process. Maybe they needed a better title for it?


Level 12

yes it is free for 90 days.


Been using Windows 10 at home for months and hopefully will be in the pilot group when we roll it out at work. Which reminds me that I need to bug the image guys next week and see where they are. Enjoyed the write up and thanks for the links.

Level 13

Fingers crossed for you Mike and thanks for the feedback!