Microsoft Puts Windows PC Deployments on AutoPilot

Windows AutoPilot automates the process of deploying and configuring Windows 10 PCs for large businesses.

Windows 10 Creators Update

Microsoft wants to make the often-laborious task of fully configuring and deploying Windows PCs for business users a thing of the past for businesses.

The Redmond, Wash. software giant announced a new set of features called Windows AutoPilot, currently present in Windows 10 Creators Update (version 1703), that automates many of the tasks required to set up a Windows PC for employee use. Windows 10 Creators Update

Backed by Microsoft's cloud, Windows AutoPilot enables IT departments to regain the time lost to the countless deployment tools and settings screens that administrators toil with when they are asked to configure a PC for a new employee or upgrade an existing worker's system.

"Imagine being able to take a new device out of the box and with just a few clicks fully configuring it for productive use—no more images to create and maintain, no infrastructure to manage, and a simple process. Now imagine that any member of the organization can easily setup a new device without needing any IT assistance," wrote Rob Lefferts, partner director of the Security and Enterprise unit within the Windows and Devices Group at Microsoft in a June 29 blog post.

The newly announced companion Windows AutoPilot Deployment service, enabling enterprises to deliver a custom out-of-the box experience when their employees are handed a new PC. The cloud-based service guides users through a simplified self-service configuration process.

After unboxing a laptop, for example, Windows AutoPilot Deployment prompts users to log in with their Azure Active Directory credentials. After they are successfully authenticated, the device is automatically enrolled in Intune, Microsoft's mobile device management (MDM) service, or other compatible MDM offerings.

For participating original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), distributors and resellers, the Windows AutoPilot Deployment Program allows their customers to register their Windows 10 PCs within moments after they are delivered. Microsoft is also working on an automatic registration capability, enabling OEMs and resellers to automatically register a PC with Windows AutoPilot Deployment on a customer's behalf during the order fulfillment process.

The Windows AutoPilot Deployment Program, headed by Microsoft's Surface division, is expected to roll out later this year.

When the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update arrives later this year, it will ship with additional Windows AutoPilot features, added Lefferts. Among them is a new reset option that reverts a PC to its initial state but with its Azure AD connection state and MDM management functionality intact, allowing AutoPilot to automatically reconfigure the system. Also in the works in an enhanced personalization feature that allows businesses to pre-assign devices to specific workers and self-service Active Directory join capabilities.

Separately, Microsoft is readying new MDM and security features for Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, Lefferts said. They include the ability to deploy and configure Windows Defender Application Guard, a web application sandboxing feature along with new automated Azure AD and MDM enrollment capabilities for devices joined to an Active Directory domain.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the Internet.com network of...