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What's in the Windows 10 October 2018 Update for IT Pros

This week Microsoft began the rollout of the sixth feature update for Windows 10. Although it is too early for enterprise customers to be considering this build for widespread deployment in their organizations, early access and testing will help prepare for that process when it arrives.

During a software and hardware event in New York City this week, Microsoft corporate vice president for Windows & Devices Yusuf Mehdi announced that the October 2018 Update for Windows 10 is complete and ready for users to install.

Of course, the term ready for install has different definitions for consumers versus enterprise and business users. Microsoft has released this feature update in what it calls seeker mode. That means users can manually check Windows Update to look for this upgrade or they can use software like the Media Creation Tool or Update Assistant to get this upgrade.

However, for IT pros in enterprise and business organizations, having their users grab the October 2018 Update using these methods is likely blocked - as it should be. With the issues that are starting to pop up on social media about missing files and incompatible drivers causing issues with this upgrade, that is a good thing because productivity isn't impacted with these challenges.

Soon enough Windows 10 Version 1809 will get marked as ready for enterprise and business customers. These two designations, Semi-Annual Channel (Targeted) or Semi-Annual Channel, indicates the release is ready for most people or for widespread use.

The Windows 10 October 2018 Update is the first September/October feature update release that is now due to receive a full 30 months of support instead of just 18 as was previously available. That means more time for organizations to settle on a specific feature update and give themselves more time to migrate users between these semi-annual Windows 10 upgrade cycles.

In order to prepare for possibly rolling out this upgrade to users, IT pros can use several tools and resources that have been updated for this release by Microsoft.

Tools and Information Resources

  • Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (Windows ADK) for Windows 10 - For customizing Windows image for various deployment scenarios and testing your systems quality and performance.
  • Security baseline (DRAFT) for Windows 10 v1809 - This includes a PowerShell script for applying GPOs to your local policy and custom ADMX files for Group Policy settings to help you establish a baseline security posture that includes access/implementation of new security features in the October 2018 Update.
  • Updated 90 day evaluation version of Windows 10 Enterprise to perform local testing with the final released code.
  • Change History for Microsoft Edge - Each feature update cycle improvements are made to Microsoft Edge, and in this cycle some control over media playing on web pages is provided among them. You can control this auto-playback either on a site by site basis or turn it off for any site you browse to on Edge. Of course, for enterprise customers, this and other new features have Group Policies and MDM settings to implement them and this page summarizes all of the additions and removals with the October 2018 Update.
  • What's new in Windows 10 Version 1809 for printing - The big change for this update is that print and scan drivers that were previously provided in inbox are now available through Windows Update from the OEMs.
  • Windows 10 Accessibility in the October 2018 Update - While accessibility is primarily thought of as a consumer feature, many IT pros benefit from these enhancements within the OS as they perform their daily work due to a disability or even a temporary situation like an injury.

Availability for Enterprise Customers and Partners

Windows 10 Enterprise Version 1809 is available to partners with Microsoft Action Pack Subscriptions (MAPS) via the Microsoft Partner Network (MPN). All other editions of Windows 10 will be available via MAPS beginning Oct. 22.

For enterprise and business customers who use the Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC), Windows 10 Version 1809 will become available in the coming weeks, according to Microsoft.

If you are a Visual Studio subscriber, all editions of Windows 10 Version 1809 are available through the subscriber downloads page. This includes Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC 2019, Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC 2019, plus Windows 10 Business (Enterprise), Pro, and consumer editions.

Highlighted Features

As mentioned earlier, every feature update adds enhancements to Windows 10 in the areas of security and management which are very important aspects of the operating system for enterprise and business customers. As summarized by Microsoft, this feature update is no different than its predecessors, and there is a rundown of more than 30 key features that are in the Windows 10 October 2018 Update. Here is a snapshot of the top items:

  •  Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP)
    • Threat Analytics that bring together risk analytics and threat intelligence
    • Custom Detections - create your own custom queries to find threats and create custom alerts for them
    • Managed Security Service Providers (MSSP) support for managed detection and responses
  • Password-less login with Azure Active Directory accounts utilizing industry standards like FIDO2 and Web Authentication via Windows Hello and the Microsoft Authenticator app
  • Firewall support for Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL)
  • Windows Autopilot support for existing devices including Windows 7 devices
  • Desktop App Assure (Preview) to help you identify compatibility issues as you migrate from Windows 7 to Windows 10
  • Windows Virtual Desktop (Preview) gives you access not only to Windows 10 virtual desktops but also Windows 7 with extended security update support at no extra cost

Although the October 2018 Update just arrived, we are already tracking development work on the next feature update for Windows 10. This one is known by its new code name of Windows 10 19H1. That translates to the update being available in the first half of 2019, expected to be in the March/April time-frame. 

It is never too early to get started with the Windows Insider for Business Program to move your organization forward to look at what's coming next for Windows 10.

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