Microsoft has released 90-day evaluation versions of the Windows 10 Creators Update for Enterprise edition of the operating system. IT professionals can download the updates on the company's TechNet Evaluation Center.
Although Windows 10 Creators Update will start rolling out via Windows Update on April 11 to the general public, enterprises generally don't like rushing into major operating system upgrades.
It's a prudent move that helps ensure that organizations with thousands of Windows users don't unexpectedly introduce software incompatibilities that renders business applications inoperable, breaks workflows and generally causes productivity to come to a screeching halt.
Windows 10 Creators Update contains a number of enhancements for business users and IT professionals, including a number of security-enhancing capabilities. For example, Windows Hello for Business, the company's password-replacing two-factor authentication feature, now supports environments that use on-premises Active Directory (AD) instead of Azure AD and other cloud-based user identity management systems, according to this Microsoft support document.
Windows Defender, the operating system's built-in anti-malware software, not only gets a name change to Windows Defender Antivirus, it gains a feature called Block at First Sight. Using Microsoft's cloud and machine learning technologies, the feature conducts an automated analysis of suspicious and potentially dangerous files downloaded from the internet.
When used with the Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) service, Windows 10 Creators Update enables improved detection of in-memory and kernel-level attacks. Microsoft also claims that the combination does a better job of unmasking one of the biggest the threats affecting businesses today, ransomware.
To help streamline bulk configurations, Microsoft has replaced the Windows Imaging and Configuration Designer tool with a Windows Store app called Windows Imaging and Configuration Designer. Now, administrators can create provisioning packages using wizards that cover common settings used on desktop devices, Surface Hub devices, kiosks and more. Also included are wizards that enable organizations to enroll, or "join," devices in Azure AD in bulk.
Organizations that want some more time before they apply big feature updates now have several months more time to get ready.
"Windows Update for Business managed devices [is] now able to defer feature update installation by up to 365 days (it used to be 180 days). In settings, users are able to select their branch readiness level and update deferral periods," stated Microsoft.
Feature updates, like the Creators Update and Anniversary Update, generally contain major new functionality and capabilities. Quality updates, which contain bug fixes and relatively minor enhancements, can now be paused for up to 35 days.
While new software tweaks can cause incompatibilities, so can the sudden loss of a relied-upon feature.
To help ensure that IT professionals aren't caught off guard, the company has published a list of 13 features that have been removed or deprecated. It includes Apps Corner, the Interactive Service Detection Service and the IPsec task offload performance enhancing function for network adapters, among others.