October 28, 2014 10:20 am

Windows 10: Making Deployment Easier

As Joe mentioned in this blog post, the amount of interest in the Windows 10 preview has been phenomenal. We appreciate that IT pros are trying out the new features and providing feedback. But more importantly, we appreciate the sheer number of devices that you are upgrading from previous versions of Windows – whether from Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 8.1. The telemetry from these upgrades enables us to further streamline and improve the upgrade process – important because this is the primary way we expect organizations to deploy Windows 10.

In my blog post on September 30th, we introduced this idea of having a simpler deployment process, using an in-place upgrade instead of the traditional wipe-and-load approach that organizations have historically used to deploy new Windows versions. This upgrade process is designed to preserve the apps, data, and configuration from the existing Windows installation, taking care to put things back the way they need to be after Windows 10 has been installed on the system.

Of course it’s critical that at the same time we do everything we can to ensure that existing apps “just work.” We understand the challenges that many organizations experienced as part of their Windows XP to Windows 7 migrations, and are working hard to ensure that compatibility between Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 10 is excellent. This also applies to hardware: we are designing Windows 10 to have the same overall hardware requirements as Windows 7 and Windows 8, making it possible to run Windows 10 on your existing devices.

We are also hard at work developing new runtime configuration tools, designed to easily transform devices from their off-the-shelf state into fully configured business devices, without reimaging. By using these types of tools, the amount of time and effort required for configuring the device to make it ready for a person to use can be greatly reduced. The types of configuration that can be performed include things like the provisioning of Wi-Fi, VPN, and e-mail profiles; installation of apps, language packs, security updates and certificates; and enforcement of security policies. And because these devices likely need to be managed after the configuration is complete, the provisioning process can also completely automate the enrollment into an MDM service (like Microsoft Intune or other third-party MDM services).

Overall, we believe that these runtime configuration capabilities bring benefits to the organization beyond just the time savings (and therefore reduced costs) for initial device setup. They also enable completely new scenarios, like choose-your-own-device (CYOD) programs. It’s often impractical to support these with traditional image-based deployment processes (where the original OS on the device is immediately overwritten with an organization specific image) because every device could be different.

Of course we’ll continue to support the traditional wipe-and-load deployment processes as well, leveraging the Assessment and Deployment Kit (ADK), Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT), and System Center Configuration Manager. Stay tuned for more details on these, which are expected to be ready next year. Also check out the System Center Configuration Manager team blog for more details.

All of these deployment topics will be discussed (and demonstrated) at Microsoft’s TechEd conference in Barcelona today, with Michael Niehaus presenting to the IT professional audience. We’ll be posting a video recording of the session here, for those that aren’t attending the event.

Updated November 8, 2014 1:10 am