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11/12/2015
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Windows 10: Major Update Targets Business, Consumer PCs

Microsoft rolls out a major Windows 10 update that affects Cortana, Microsoft Edge, Windows Update for Business, security, and mobile device management, among other features.

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Microsoft has delivered the first major Windows 10 update for PCs and tablets. In addition to consumer-friendly upgrades to Cortana and Microsoft Edge, this update includes several features that specifically target business devices.

In a Nov. 12 blog post on the news, Windows chief Terry Myerson notes, "with this free update we have reached the point in the platform's maturity where we can confidently recommend Windows 10 deployment to whole organizations."

Myerson's vote of confidence is welcome, but it should be noted Windows 10 is already running on 12 million business PCs.

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The latest Windows 10 update promises to simplify the process for IT admins in upgrading and managing both corporate-owned and BYOD devices. Two new services, Windows Update for Business and Windows Store for Business, let IT maintain control over delivering updates and services.

Windows Update for Business gives IT admins control over how updates are deployed within the organization and keeps devices current while meeting security needs. Microsoft reports this will cut management cost. For example, Windows Update for Business will let IT set up device groups with staggered deployments.

Through Windows Store for Business, IT can find, acquire, manage, and distribute Windows Store apps and custom line-of-business apps to Windows 10 device. This gives them control over how apps are delivered: Admins can directly assign apps, publish apps to a private store, or connect with management solutions.

Additional business-specific updates include mobile device management (MDM) and Azure Active Directory Join. Both are intended to help IT manage and secure mobile devices in work environments where people use multiple smartphones, PCs, and tablets to get things done.

With this update, IT can use Enterprise Mobility Management to run all Windows devices -- PCs, tablets, smartphones, and devices connected to IoT. Windows 10 can be used to fully manage and secure BYOD devices and the data and apps on them.

Azure Active Directory Join simplifies the process of making machines enterprise-ready to "a few simple clicks," Myerson explains. AAD Join lets IT maintain a single directory and give people one login, which they can use to roam Windows settings and data across all Windows 10 devices.

(Image: Kelly Sheridan/InformationWeek)

(Image: Kelly Sheridan/InformationWeek)

On the security front, this update brings Credential Guard, which protects credentials in a hardware-based virtualized environment, and Device Guard, which prevents hackers from installing malware. Other safeguards include free anti-malware service Windows Defender, and a biometric login with Windows Hello (only available on certain devices).

Thursday's update also enables enterprise customers to turn off telemetry data if they prefer.

General improvements in the newest update that affect consumer and enterprise customers alike come with improved performance. Boot time is reportedly 30% faster than Windows 7 on the same device.

You can now use your device's pen to jot down notes in Cortana Notebook, and the digital assistant will recognize phone numbers, email addresses, and physical addresses to set reminders. Cortana will also track event bookings, send reminders, recommend when to leave, and give you the option to book an Uber.

Microsoft Edge received a performance and security boost, along with the official launch of tab preview, which lets you hover over a tab for a preview of a website without leaving your current Web page. Edge also now syncs Favorites and Reading List content across devices.

In future Windows 10 updates, Microsoft promises an enterprise data protection feature designed to separate corporate data from personal information. This is currently in testing and will become available to Insiders "soon," Myerson reports.

We had heard whispers of today's update, formerly code-named Threshold 2, since Windows 10 first launched in July. Microsoft is working on an even larger Windows 10 update, currently code-named Project Redstone, which will roll out in 2016.

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Kelly Sheridan is the Staff Editor at Dark Reading, where she focuses on cybersecurity news and analysis. She is a business technology journalist who previously reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft, and Insurance & Technology, where she covered financial ... View Full Bio

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