Microsoft details how to deploy, manage Windows 10

Windows guru Michael Neihaus reveals nuts-and-bolts details about Windows 10's beefy deployment and management features

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If you're going to be involved in rolling out Windows 10 to an organization, two sessions from TechEd Europe -- recently posted on Channel 9 -- contain nuts-and-bolts details about how Windows 10 will work. In those sessions, Microsoft's Michael Neihaus explains what users can expect for rollout support. He also discusses new options for managing enterprise and BYOD hardware.

The first presentation, covering Windows 10 deployment, leans heavily on in-place upgrades. Microsoft makes no bones about the fact that it's shooting for upgrade superstardom, with a commitment to make in-place upgrades from Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 to Windows 10 work smoothly.

In the presentation, Neihaus steps through the in-place upgrade process, which focuses on creating a setup.exe command line -- one line that handles nearly every task. 

There are options to call scripts based on successful or unsuccessful completion of the upgrade, with promises for full rollback capability -- invisible to the user -- if the upgrade process goes south. Of course, we've heard that before, but this time there's a much stronger commitment to bringing all user data, operating system settings, apps, and their settings across from the old environment to the new, with no manual configuration necessary.

There's a new emphasis on drivers. By default, the Windows 10 in-place upgrade process brings across old drivers, but substitutes new Windows 10 drivers when they're available. If you don't like that approach, you can specify a folder that contains new drivers you trust -- or if you're once bitten and twice shy, you can tell the upgrade process to bring the old drivers across, period.

Neihaus explains that Microsoft is deploying test versions of the in-place upgrade system now, to encourage IT departments to give it a try. If you want to do an old-fashioned wipe and load, you have to wait until early next year to take a look.

Microsoft's also come up with a bag of provisioning tools -- software that can transform just about any PC into a compliant corporate PC -- that are worth a look. If you're staring at BYOD Windows deployment and worrying about how to turn all of those diverse machines into something you can manage, those tools might help.

The second TechEd Europe presentation, covering Windows 10 management, looks at the new corporate management hooks in Windows 10, as you might expect, but it also goes into great detail about how the new Windows Store will work. If you've been wondering how your users are going to get into the Store -- sideloading corporate apps, managing volume purchases, allowing employees to access consumer apps -- you'll find a lot of details here.

I was particularly impressed with the way Active Directory and Azure AD are working together (or are supposed to work together!) when accessing Windows Store.

O brave new world -- if it works. 

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