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Microsoft Releases Windows 10 Fall Creators Update

It has much to offer IT pros, including new deployment capabilities.

The wait is over. That is, for those who were waiting eagerly for the next update to Windows 10.

Although the hype for new Windows releases isn't what it used to be, it still marks a milestone.

And Microsoft's latest operating system update, released today, contains plenty for IT pros.

Microsoft has tended to emphasize consumer features with the Windows 10 fall creators update, such as support for mixed reality headsets and various user interface improvements. However, the capabilities enabled for IT pros are rather vast.

A list of those improvements can be found in this "What's New for IT Pros" announcement by Nathan Mercer, senior marketing manager for Windows Commercial. He described deployment, servicing, security, management and networking improvements, among other details.

Microsoft will have an Web event on Nov. 2 for IT pros to answer questions about Windows 10 version 1709. It requires a sign-up to join, but the details are announced here.

Tools Capabilities
Notably, the Windows 10 fall creators update is lighting up some of Microsoft's new tooling and deployment capabilities. For instance, Windows AutoPilot is supported. It's a user self-provisioning scheme for new out-of-the-box deployments (although Windows AutoPilot also will work with Windows 10 version 1703).

Microsoft is enabling "comanagement," a capability for Microsoft Intune or third-party mobile device management solutions, that permits domain-joined devices to be managed via local Active Directory and the Azure Active Directory service simultaneously. It's a transitional tool for switching to so-called "modern management" of client devices. Microsoft plans to address questions about this capability in this Co-management "Ask Microsoft Anything" event, which will take place on Thursday, Oct. 19 from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time.

Some of the Windows Analytics tools, which are part of Microsoft's Operations Management Suite solution, notably have reached "general availability" (GA) status this week, meaning that they are ready for production-environment use.

One of those Windows Analytics tools reaching GA is Update Compliance, available for Windows 10 desktops at Pro or higher editions, and requiring "Basic or higher" telemetry. The Update Compliance tool shows client device issues, as well as the status of updates and antimalware protection.

The other Windows Analytics tool reaching GA this week is Device Health, which requires an E3 or E5 license and "Enhanced" telemetry. It tracks device crashes, including problems with drivers and information protection configurations. Microsoft has also updated its Enhanced telemetry reporting by adding a new option, called "Limit Enhanced diagnostic data to the minimum required by Windows Analytics."

Microsoft also is promoting its Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection service as a "full suite of security solutions that includes Windows Defender Application Guard, Device Guard (now Windows Defender Device Guard), Credential Guard (now Windows Defender Credential Guard), Windows Defender Firewall, and Windows Defender Antivirus," the announcement indicated. Microsoft notably has pushed aspects of its deprecated Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit (EMET), a standalone security mitigation solution, into the Windows 10 fall creators update to enable some of these capabilities.

Microsoft also is bringing improvements to the Console command-line interface with this release.

Other Improvements
Microsoft also made it easier to switch from the Pro to the Enterprise edition via a Windows 10 Subscription Activation capability (it also works with Windows 10 version 1703). An Automatic Redeployment capability can reset a Windows 10 device to its original state without any files included (a typical PC reuse scenario for educational institutions).

Windows Hello, Microsoft's biometric user authentication scheme for Windows 10, is getting the ability to lock a device based on the user's distance away from it. BitLocker, Microsoft's disk encryption solution, now has a minimum PIN length of four digits (compared with six digits previously).

Clean installs of Windows 10 version 1709 will remove Server Message Block 1, a security hole in Windows systems that was targeted by the WannaCry ransomware. However, Windows 10 installations upgraded to version 1709 will continue to have "SMBv1 components," the announcement indicated.

Microsoft had a lot more to describe about the Windows 10 version 1709 improvements. Notably, it mentioned that "Windows 10 now runs on ARM64 architecture." This point wasn't elaborated, but it perhaps refers to Microsoft's partnership with Qualcomm announced late last year.

Removed Features
Microsoft also removed or deprecated some features with Windows 10 version 1709. Notably, file creation using the Resilient File System is now only available for the Enterprise edition and the Pro for Workstations edition. File creation via the Resilient File System is no longer available for the Home and Pro editions.

PowerShell 2.0 is deprecated. Microsoft also will be removing the Syskey.exe utility in favor of BitLocker. EMET, as mentioned, also gets deprecated with this OS release.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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