Microsoft’s latest Windows 10 focuses on IT admins

While it will stop those annoying taskbar InBox and social media messages, at the heart of the April 2018 Windows 10 update is an effort to simplify management

Microsoft has made available the next update to Windows 10, which has a big focus on IT administration and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

From a GDPR and data security perspective, the April 2018 update to Windows 10 offers more granular access to sensitive data and the ability to ring-fence data in certain geographies.

In the Microsoft Security and Compliance Center, Microsoft has added a data privacy tab, which it says enables administrators to execute data subject requests under the fulfilment requirements for the GDPR.

A “privileged access management” feature has also been added, which Microsoft said offers just-in-time access for admin roles and tasks in Microsoft 365.

There is also support for what Microsoft calls “multi-geo capabilities” in Microsoft 365. The company said this gives IT administrators control over where company data resides at a per-user level, based on the company’s global data location and compliance needs.

There is also an “advanced data governance” control, which Microsoft said provides event-based retention and disposition.

In a blog post on the Microsoft site announcing the release, Brad Anderson, corporate vice-president of enterprise mobility and security, said the update will provide what Microsoft describes as “delivery optimisation”.

Anderson said delivery optimisation enables one device to download an update, which can then be distributed across the local network to deliver that update to other Windows 10 machines.

This could reduces bandwidth by as much as 90%, he said. IT staff will be able to monitor delivery optimisation status using Windows Analytics, said Anderson, which will enable them to see how many devices are enabled and the bandwidth savings being achieved.

Anderson said Microsoft has also developed the Readiness Toolkit for Office (RTO), which aims to help IT administrators and users check Office VBA, Macro and add-in compatibility. The Application Health Analyzer (AHA) tool, which can assess the dependencies of internally developed apps and check they are compatible with Windows 10 updates, will be available in public preview in the coming months, he added.

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Another tool being introduced by Microsoft is ConfigMgr, which Anderson said helps IT administrators manage the servicing process. “I am excited to share that this week that we hit a new milestone of 115 million devices under management by ConfigMgr,” he said. “The recent 1802 release of ConfigMgr will add the ability to execute phased deployment rings.

“This will further automate the servicing of Windows 10 and Office 365 ProPlus by updating IT-defined groups one at a time, and automatically initiating the next group once the health of the first deployment is confirmed.”

Anderson said the 365 Admin Center now provides a common management entry point for Microsoft 365 implementations, with support for Office 365 users.

“Users of both Office 365 and Microsoft 365 will now have access to the same Admin Center with the same capabilities,” he said. “For Office 365 users, this means a simpler admin experience that easily integrates with their other Microsoft services – all without giving up any capabilities or control.”

Microsoft has also addressed device management in the new update with Windows AutoPilot. Anderson said this offers the flexible device management approach needed in a modern workplace.

“It’s as simple as taking a new device from the box, powering it on, entering your credentials and sitting back while it is configured and managed from the cloud with minimal user or IT effort, with no management of images,” he said.

With the April 2018 Windows 10 update, Windows AutoPilot now includes an enrolment status page, said Anderson. “This page enables you to ensure that policies, settings and apps can be provisioned on the device during that out-of-box experience before the user gets to the desktop and begins interacting with the device.”

For end-user productivity, Microsoft has attempted to remove the annoying pop-up messages in Windows 10. It said its Focus Assist feature allows users to get tasks done without distractions from social media or other notifications.

It said it has also improved dictation, allowing users to take a note or write a paper by speaking to their PC or Windows tablet device.

In Microsoft Edge, the company has added a mute-a-tab, full-screen reading and clutter-free printing features. There is also a grammar tool and support for autofill on web forms.

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