Windows 10 will arrive on July 29, full of new features that consumers are sure to enjoy — the Cortana intelligent assistant, a new faster web browser, integration with Xbox, and so on.
But Windows 10 also has a bunch of security and management features that would cause a consumer to yawn, but that make an IT professional’s job a lot easier.
- Device Guard: a combination of hardware and software security features that, when configured together, will lock a device down so that it can only run trusted applications.
- Better support for “mobile device managment” options: MDM is software that allows companies to track, control, remotely wipe and otherwise manage mobile devices. (Microsoft is selling its own cloud-based version of this, called “Enterprise Mobility Suite” that COO Kevin Turner believes will become another $US1 billion business for Microsoft.)
- Windows Store for Business: where companies can create their own app stores, filled with custom and licensed apps.
- Enterprise data protection: The ability to lock down specific files filled with sensative info to keep them from being shared with unauthorised users or outside the company.
- Microsoft Passport: IT departments can eliminate passwords by assigning an employee to a device and then using the new “Windows Hello” app which uses a fingerprint or face-ID login (on PCs that have the hardware to support that). This system integrates with Microsoft’s corporate password/ID system known as Active Directory.
- Provisioning package: An easy way to install Windows 10 on a company’s hundreds to thousands of PCs.
- Untrusted font blocking: Fancy fonts on a website can be a trojan horse for malware to attack because they are processed by the Graphics Device Interface (GDI), which can be fooled into giving a hacker access. Windows 10 lets an enterprise block unknown fonts.
- A special version of Windows Update for Business: This gives IT departments granular control of what kinds of updates it allows Microsoft to automatically install, such as allowing security updates but not allowing new features. IT departments often need to test updates to make sure they don’t crater important business apps.
But here’s the catch. Some of these featutures won’t be available to enterprises until the fall, CEO Satya Nadella told Wall Street analysts earlier this month.
The Windows 10 rollout will happen in three phases, he explained.
Phase 1 is upgrading existing qualifying consumer PCs to Windows 10. This begins on July 29.
Phase 2 will come when new PCs are launched for the holiday season — which coincides with year-end, use-it-or-lose-it budget spending by IT departments. Nadella says that PC makers are working on “hundreds of new hardware designs” and will have “over 2,000 distinct devices or configurations” for Windows 10.
Phase 3 is the enterprise upgrades. New enterprise features will be available in the fall. “I expect piloting to start and deployments to start in the second half of the fiscal year,” Nadella explained.
Microsoft’s fiscal year begins July 1, so he’s talking the beginning of 2016 before he expects enterprises to really start to roll out Windows 10.