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Enterprise guide to Windows 10

Tom Henderson | Aug. 4, 2015
Windows 10 is now available for consumers, but for IT executives thinking about enterprise deployments, here's what the upgrade path from Window 7 or Windows 8/8.1 looks like.

Windows 10 is mated to Active Directory in the same old ways -- but with new client-side twists, we found in testing. No new roadblock or obstacles towards interoperability with MacOS or Linux have been introduced. Even your VMs can be updated with surprisingly little drama or inconvenience, whether on Citrix Xen, Hyper-V, or VMware. We could not find any difficulties with mating Windows 10 Professional and Enterprise with our two Active Directory sources, and so feel this is another green light.

Microsoft introduces significant business-focused security features, better encryption of data in-place as well as in transit, and adds Microsoft's Azure Active Directory as a member of its Windows as a Service "team."

Group Policy Objects that work for Windows 7 and 8 clients appear to work for Windows 10 Professional and Enterprise. Microsoft is in the process of adding specific templates for features found in Windows 10 business editions and will be added server-side, rather than client side for group rather than local control.

Cortana is Microsoft's audio query tool, and it's good. Voice commands get fast answers. Permitting Cortana adds voice interaction, and additionally creates sources of asked/answered data profiles somewhere managed by somebody. The actual privacy of these is unknown, as is whether they can be mined, or must be in some way audited or are in other ways regulated.

The use of Siri is uncontroversial for many organizations, but such voice queries can be business or personally related, and this is new ground to break in terms of legal discovery processes, international regulatory authority, and policy determination. Organizations need to decide the practicality of permitting Cortana.

Windows 10 includes constant updating, an approachable, more Windows-like UI (than Windows 8), and the promise of a cross-device operability. If Windows 8 was about tablets, Windows 10 is about PowerUsers, a Microsoft spokesperson told us.

Users are unlikely to be dismayed by Windows 10 combination of tiling and Start Menu. Windows 10 will also remember Wi-Fi passwords. As we don't recommend browser password cache in IE, we didn't test this function. Firefox, Google Chrome, and other browsers we tested work unaided.

Then, there is the question of utilization of the Microsoft Store, and its business store variants (yes, you can arrange your own groupings of apps and make it an authorized store for users).

Rapid self-provisioning of licensed/approved/vetted apps is heaven-sent to many organizations, but specific licensing details, approved payloads, metadata in the form of ancilliary data files, organizational templates, and other customizations require time and the usual licensing, legal, audit controls, language-specific choices.

Microsoft can make use of TPM 2.0 platforms, an onboard encryption system and extends UEFI Secure Boot security potential. The Trusted Platform Module 2.0 secure boot feature can also be used in conjunction with UEFI and Microsoft's Hyper-V, where hardware supports all three, to also enable Virtual Secure Mode. This scheme is an application sandboxing method that's lighter-weight than running a full VM on a Windows 10 host, much like other container methods we've seen, but not really similar to Docker or Kubernetes.


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