Nearly a year after making its debut, Microsoft upgrades the Windows Autopilot deployment tool to further simplify the process of configuring PCs for employees in the workplace.
Windows Autopilot slashes the time it takes organizations to set up a Windows 10 PC for employee use, often without requiring IT intervention. Users get to set up their devices with a few clicks and administrators are freed from having to create and keep track of system images or managing the infrastructure required to push those images to new or repurposed work PCs.
Now, members of the Windows Insider early-access and feedback program who download Windows 10 test build 17672 or above and use the preview version of Microsoft Intune, the software giant's cloud-based mobile device and application management platform, can try new capabilities that promise a "zero touch" deployment experience for users, according to Brad Anderson, Corporate Vice President of Enterprise Mobility + Security, at Microsoft. They include a new Self-Deploying mode that allows for an even more hands-off initial configuration process than the existing Windows Autopilot feature provides.
"Currently, the Windows Autopilot experience requires the user to select basic settings like Region, Language, and Keyboard, and also enter their credentials, in the Windows 10 out-of-the-box experience," explained Anderson in a June 7 announcement. Self-Deploying mode largely removes these steps, essentially delivering a customized and fully-configured Windows 10 system after end users turn their devices on for the first time.
"Power on is all it takes to deploy a new Windows 10 device into a fully business-ready state—managed, secured, and ready for usage—no need for any user interaction," Anderson continued. "You can configure the device to self-deploy into a locked down kiosk, a digital signage, or a shared productivity device—all it takes is power on."
A network connection is required for Self-Deploying mode's "power on" capabilities to kick in. The feature also requires the Trusted Platform Module (TPM) 2.0 chip-based security specification on PCs that organizations wish to deploy in this manner.
For situations involving repurposed PC hardware, Microsoft has introduced a new Reset option that enables administrators to redeploy a Windows 10 PC without physically accessing the device, Anderson said. Using Intune, IT personnel can now click a button in the interface to reset and redeploy a system without getting up from their desks.
Soon, companies that purchase their PCs from Dell and HP will be able to provide their users with an out-of-the-box experience powered by Windows Autopilot. Currently, Lenovo and Microsoft's own Surface brand have integrated their order fulfillment systems with the technology, allowing enterprise customers to register their new Windows 10 PCs with Windows Autopilot during the purchasing stage, eliminating yet another task for busy IT workers.
Intune users managing PCs running Windows 10 version 1803, also known as the Windows 10 April 2018 Update, can visit the new Enrollment Status Page to gain more control over how Windows Autopilot functions under certain circumstances.
The new toolset, currently in beta, allows organizations to determine which actions users can take if unexpected failures crop up or set a custom message when an error is encountered, among other options.