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Microsoft Cloud PC coming soon?

Device as a Service (DaaS), PC as a Service (PCaaS), virtual desktop as a service and cloud-based desktops are not new to the industry. Now a potential service in this realm to be provided by Microsoft as part of their Microsoft 365 service offerings.

Top Free Tools I Use

I am always on the lookout for good tools I can use on my daily tasks. It is a bonus when they are free. I am thankful for those that work on these and offer them to the world via open source, donation based or truly free.

Windows Activation Evolution

As organizations deploy Windows 10 Pro and Windows 10 Enterprise with Modern Device Management the processes for activating Windows 10 are changing, and new options are available.

Most of us are familiar with the traditional product key registration for Windows devices.   For businesses (large and small) the common activation scenarios for activation have included:

  • OEM Pro – needs internet connection for one-time activation
  • Multiple Activation Key (MAK) (Pro or Enterprise) – needs internet connection 1 time per system
  • Key Management Services (KMS) – on premise KMS server doing continual activation
  • Firmware-embedded – never needs to be on internet connection, it can be in a deferred activation state and never watermark
Read More »Windows Activation Evolution

Gathering Existing Devices Windows Autopilot Device IDs

Update 8/1/2020: Microsoft has updated their official blog post a number of times since this post to include automated ways from Intune and ConfigManager.

We have published a number of posts about what Windows Autopilot is and how to setup and test. Now that so many organizations have taken note of Modern Device Management advantages they want to know how to include those devices into the Windows Autopilot.

It needs to be clarified that Modern Devices Management in the context of Windows Autopilot, is comprised of three parts:

  1. Device Registration
  2. Device Enrollment
  3. Device Provisioning

This article relates to step 1) for existing devices within an organization. Specifically the question it is trying to answer is:

Is there a way we can generate the IDs without someone sitting down in front of hundreds / thousand of individual machines and manually starting the PowerShell script?

Here is high level steps what I have seen done out there:

Read More »Gathering Existing Devices Windows Autopilot Device IDs

Windows 10 Refreshing the OS – Operational Processes

Guest post by Colin Sainsbury

About Colin Sainsbury With over 20 years of experience in the IT industry, Colin provides strategic guidance and technology expertise that organizations need to transform their end user computing environments. He works at Dell Technologies Services as a Principal Consultant supporting global customers.  Twitter | LinkedIn   | 

In the past, operational process often involved to wiping and reloading/re-imaging a device between users or to fix issues that have crept in. This is both time consuming and costly representing an unnecessary overhead. In environments where contingent/contractor labour is a high proportion of the workforce, this has been a significant cost driver. Windows 10 provides new ways to address this challenge.

It should be noted that none of these approaches deliver true data sanitation nor do they claim to be NIST 800-88 compliant. In this sense, they might be appropriate between users within the same organisation or business sub-unit but not when end of warranty devices are being returned to lessor or sold on. Always take advice from your information security team before adopting one of these methods to ensure that it meets their need to protect your data.

Read More »Windows 10 Refreshing the OS – Operational Processes

Microsoft tools manage 175M endpoints

Not long ago, in August 2018, I wrote a blog post Microsoft Platform: Workspace Transformation in which I mentioned that each of the products included in the Microsoft 365 platform have already “changed and will continue to change the landscape of the way we are to manage end-user compute space

I mentioned several products by name including:

  • Azure Active Directory
  • Windows 10
  • Microsoft Intune
  • Windows Analytics
  • Windows Autopilot
  • Office 365 ProPlus
  • Microsoft 365

What has surprise me the most about the last year, is the adoption speed and acceleration of the platform.

Read More »Microsoft tools manage 175M endpoints

Updating Windows 10 Edition with Autopilot / Intune

As opposed to previous versions of the Microsoft Operating System, where each edition came as a separate ISO, there is only one package for the latest Windows 10 OS that can be “unlocked” when activated to have the edition you need.      (there are some restrictions/requirements based on licensing)

One of the most common questions I get when talking about Modern Device Management is how to upgrade the edition that comes with the device  from  Pro to Enterprise as part of the enrollment / provisioning process.

Read More »Updating Windows 10 Edition with Autopilot / Intune

Windows Autopilot White Glove Details Announced..

What is Windows Autopilot white glove?

The new Windows Autopilot white glove process, which lets IT technicians, partners, and even OEMs pre-provision devices before they are delivered to the user. Using this process, all device configuration tasks, including apps (machine-targeted or user-targeted), certificates, and policies, can be completed in advance, making it so that when the user gets the device, the device can be ready for productive use within a few minutes.

Is it available yet? 

Read More »Windows Autopilot White Glove Details Announced..

Semi-Annual Channel(SAC) Targeted release will be retired

Yep – you heard correctly!

No more Semi-Annual Channel Targeted (aka CB) or  Semi-Annual Channel Broad (aka CBB) releases!

Although this is not a new topic (John Wilcox gave us a heads up back in May 2018)    the Semi-Annual Channel(SAC) Targeted release (formerly known as CB or Current Branch) will be fully retired after Windows 10 v1903.

What this means for Enterprises? Read More »Semi-Annual Channel(SAC) Targeted release will be retired

Windows 10 LTSC Pros / Cons

UPDATE February 2021: Microsoft announced that the next version of Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC will be released in the second half of this calendar year (2H21) and will carry a 5-year support lifecycle, instead of the 10-year lifecycle supported with previous version.      Full Microsoft announcement post here.

Now that Windows 7 is less than a year ( 250 working days and counting!) away from officially end of life, we have many organizations that are not prepared to deal with the constant cycle of updates Windows 10 brings and are looking into different alternatives.   The challenges on the last released update to Windows 10, v1809, did not help these late / cautious adopter organizations that the new Windows as a Service cycle is better that the previous approach.

Some of the paths they are looking include:

Read More »Windows 10 LTSC Pros / Cons

Managing Windows 10 Updates

Many businesses (especially large ones) have been using  Windows Server Update Service (WSUS) with Software Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) or similar system to manage Windows updates to the end-point devices for a very long time.  However many do not have a formalized process to  update the O/S  on their devices.

For the past 3 years or so  Microsoft’s Windows 10 introduced  automatically downloads and installs updates to make sure your device is secure and up to date.

key challenges

As businesses adopt and migrate to Windows 10 they have to deal with three basic challenges:

Read More »Managing Windows 10 Updates

Windows 10 v1809 re-released

After a long wait, Microsoft has started once again to roll out Windows 10     v1809 (October 2018 Update) starting  November 13. Originally released on Oct 2, 2018, Microsoft paused the roll out after issues were reported and confirmed a week later (October 9)

Software is available via the Software Download Center (via Update Assistant or the Media Creation Tool), Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), and Windows Update for Business and also on the Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC).

Read More »Windows 10 v1809 re-released

Windows 7 Extended Support Update Packages Pricing

Just a few of days ago (Sep 6, 2018)  Microsoft announced Windows 7 Extended Support Upgrade (ESU) where businesses can now pay to extend Windows 7 Security Updates Beyond January 14, 2020.  (See summary of announcement here )

Although pricing was not revealed,    the blog post announcement,  authored by Jared Spataro, Corporate Vice President for Office and Windows Marketing stated:

“[T]oday we are announcing that we will offer paid Windows 7 Extended Security Updates (ESU) through January 2023. The Windows 7 ESU will be sold on a per-device basis and the price will increase each year,”

Read More »Windows 7 Extended Support Update Packages Pricing

Microsoft announcement: WaaS and Windows 7

Update:  Windows 7 Extended Support Update Packages Pricing

There was a very significant announcement that was made public today.

Summary of announcement:

  1. Longer Windows 10 servicing for enterprises and educational institutions moving from 18 month cycle to  a 30 month cycle. (per version)
  2. Windows 7 Extended Security Updates:  Microsoft will offer paid Windows 7 Extended Security Updates (ESU) through January 2023.
    1. Not sure about the price yet, but this option essentially extends the support deadline for Windows 7 by 3 years provides organizations with three additional years of security updates.  The paid Windows 7 Extended Security Updates (ESUs) will be sold on a per-device basis, with the price increasing each year.
  3. Introduction of Desktop Analytics service which will provide insight and intelligence to make more informed decisions about the update readiness of your Windows and Office clients.
  4. Introdution of Desktop App Assurea new service from Microsoft FastTrack designed to address issues with Windows 10 and Office 365 ProPlus app compatibility
Read More »Microsoft announcement: WaaS and Windows 7

Deploying Windows 10 within your Business Video Series

Windows 10 is about just about 2 years old  ( 1507 Threadstone 1 was released on July 29, 2015) , and  even though it was short of the 1 billion devices originally targeted by this time, the ~500 million or so is a tremendous achievement.   It has been the fastest Microsoft OS adoption in history.

Next year, 2018,  will be a pivotal year for businesses adoption with, according to a recently released Gartner report,  over 85% percent of enterprises will have started Windows 10 deployments by the end of 2017.

Read More »Deploying Windows 10 within your Business Video Series

Windows 10 v1507 – End of Life

Now it becomes real!

When Discussing the continuous update model of Windows as a Service, one of the first questions that comes out is:

What would be the impact of not keeping up with Windows-as-a-Services updates?

Although it has been stated by Microsoft a number of time, we now have a clear written statement from them on the impact.

Here is a summary of the first End of Service (for v1507) line announcement out of Microsoft:

Windows 10 version 1507 will no longer receive security updates

After May 9, 2017, Windows 10 devices running version 1507 will no longer receive security and quality updates.

Microsoft recommends updating devices to the latest version of Windows 10   

Read More »Windows 10 v1507 – End of Life