Windows 10 is on the horizon. While there is no confirmed ship date quite yet, there’s a good chance we’ll see the final OS this year — possibly in the fall if Microsoft sticks to its normal release schedule.
To be prepared for any gotchas, it’s a good idea for IT admins to start thinking now about deployment, training and security issues.
1. Deployment and Management Strategy
One of the key enhancements in Windows 10 (which skips a version number from the current Windows 8) could be a godsend to IT admins. With any new Microsoft OS, deployment usually involves a so-called “wipe-and-load” process that essentially removes the existing OS and adds the new version.
With Windows 10, Microsoft is using a new in-place upgrade that retains user settings like desktop resolution or color scheme, but still fits within the management infrastructure for deploying the new release. It’s known as dynamic imaging and, with a new laptop or other device, it means IT can configure even brand-new devices without having to first do a wipe-and-load to meet corporate requirements.
[Related: Windows 10: The 10 Most Important New Consumer Preview Features ]
It’s also worth noting that Microsoft says Windows 10 will have the same basic hardware requirements of both Windows 7 and Windows 8, and that there will be better integration between Active Directory and Azure Active Directory. For example, if a user signs in to Windows 10, he or she will also automatically sign in to the Windows Store and to Office 365 in the cloud.
2. Interface Changes
Of course, one of the most important changes in Windows 10 has to do with the interface, which will combine the Metro-style tiles more directly into the desktop. Users will see a new Start menu displaying the tiles that filled the entire screen in Windows 8. This could mean less user training, as users are likely already comfortable with the Start menu from Windows 7.
[Related: Microsoft: Windows 10 Is On Us ]
“Microsoft is trying to make the classic desktop and Metro interface coexist with each other. For Windows 8, at times it seemed like you were on two different computers, so Windows 10 will be more of a happy medium and bring a more cohesive user interface,” says ESET http://www.eset.com/ researcher Aryeh Goretsky. “The desktop experience will be better while using the desktop Win32 legacy apps. You will no longer be pushed behind the Metro interface.”
3. Security Features
“The biggest way in which Microsoft has addressed the needs of business users is that Windows 10 will provide built-in data loss prevention, often referred to as DLP,” says Benjamin Caudill, founder and principal consultant at Rhino Security Labs . “This means that sensitive documents can take care of themselves, so to speak. Once a file has been secured with Windows 10 DLP, it will ‘phone home’ before allowing anyone to open it. This means that even if an employee accidentally forwards sensitive documents, or if a thumb drive full of charts gets stolen, these files will not allow themselves to be opened.”
Goretsky adds, “Microsoft has basically declared passwords dead, so they are looking into other forms of two-factor authentication. Whether it be out-of-band with a cellphone text, biometric or picture mapping, we will see a non-password form of authentication.”
Goretsky says that other security improvements include more encryption throughout the entire OS, for both managed and unmanaged files. He says Microsoft will also sell a “locked-down” version of Windows 10 hardware, including laptops and tablets that only include software loaded from the Microsoft Store without the possibility to add additional software — something a business might use to keep employees from loading software that could contain malware.