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Microsoft today announced a series of enterprise-focused upgrades for its Windows 10 and 11 operating systems (OS), including enhancements to the Windows Update for Business deployment service, a cloud service that provides control over updates delivered from Windows Update. Among other additions to the ecosystem include the latest version of Universal Print — a cloud-based printer management and deployment platform — and the Test Base app security- and feature-testing service.
“Each of these exciting new innovations are built for and powered by Windows — the only operating system designed for hybrid work. The launch of Windows 11 means easy, zero-touch deployment and the ability to tune devices and tools to meet the unique needs of individual teams and employees,” Microsoft 365 corporate VP, Jared Spataro said in a blog post.
Windows 365, Microsoft’s cloud-based service that runs and streams Windows 10 or Windows 11 instances, is adding support for Windows 11 with a virtual Trusted Platform Module (TPM) chip, along with optimizations for Microsoft Teams and Office. Windows 365 customers will have the choice to purchase cloud PCs running Windows 10 or Windows 11 as their requirements dictate, Microsoft says, and new tools will help users of Windows 365 Business transition to Windows 11.
Also new in Windows 365 (in preview) is a configurable grace option, which puts a cloud PC into a seven-day grace period that ends in automatic deprovisioning of the service. This update allows customers to immediately end the grace period so that IT admins won’t have to wait the full seven days to remove user access.
Cloud PCs now support Azure Active Directory (in preview), removing the need for customers to create an on-premises network connection. And Microsoft Endpoint Manager now provides Endpoint Analytics resource reports (in preview), which include metrics for CPU and RAM performance to cloud PCs as well as updates on cloud PC sign-in times and the speed and reliability of network connections from the user location.
User enhancements to windows365.microsoft.com are also in tow (in preview), letting users change local resource settings such as printers, microphones, and keyboards; choose from new alternative keyboard options; and edit settings in-session on-demand.
Windows 11 migration
Enterprises might be ill-equipped to embrace Windows 11, according to the results of a recent survey. Lansweeper found that over half of the workstations it surveyed weren’t compatible with the new operating system and that less than 1% of virtual machines were capable, going by Microsoft’s requirements.
Hardware is one thing — and Microsoft has endorsed a “hack” that allows users to bypass Windows 11’s minimum requirements. But to help ease orchestration, Microsoft is integrating controls for scheduling and deploying Windows feature updates directly into Intune, a cloud-based service for mobile device management. The company is also making Test Base generally available, its cloud product “designed to provide confidence that apps will work with different security and feature updates.”
Using Test Base, independent software vendors, enterprise partners, and organizations can test their line-of-business apps against various versions of Windows Client and Server. In addition, Test Base has been updated with support for Windows Server 2022 testing and is now generally available — as are email alerts and notifications, and faster debugging and root causes analysis through video recording. Updates to the onboarding and test results features via APIs are currently available only in preview.
Lastly, Microsoft is launching new capabilities for Universal Print, a cloud service that allows people to print to printers in their organization without using print servers. Universal Print will support printing from Microsoft Excel for web from devices using a browser by the end of 2021.
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