Microsoft introduced its "Microsoft 365" bundle of Windows 10, Office 365 and Enterprise Mobility + Security last summer. But it's only now -- after the company's most recent reorg and with the rollout of the Windows 10 April 2018 Update that it's becoming an integrated product in its own right.
That's according to Corporate Vice President Brad Anderson, who after last month's major Windows reorg, is now handling Microsoft 365 deployment all-up, as well as taking the lead on Windows 10 in the enterprise. (Anderson is part of Executive Vice President Rajesh Jha's Experiences & Devices team.)
Simultaneous with the Windows 10 April 2018 Update, which will become the crux of the Windows piece of Microsoft 365, Microsoft is adding other new tools and capabilities designed to make integrated provisioning, deployment and compliance part of the Microsoft 365 experience.
"We're running Microsoft 365 now as a product," Anderson told me this week. "We can do a lot of integration on the back end. Now that this is all (Microsoft 365) cloud services, we can truly deliver these end-to-end scenarios. plus provide insights from the cloud."
Starting Monday April 30, which is when the Windows 10 April 2018 Update kicks off, Microsoft will be taking advance of the delivery optimization enhancements that are part of that release. Via Delivery Optimization, administrators have the option to download the update on one device and then use the company's local network to deliver the update to other machines in order to reduce bandwidth (by as much as 90 percent, Microsoft claims).
Coupling Delivery Optimization with Windows Analytics will give IT pros the ability to monitor the delivery status of the update, so they know how many devices have it and how the rollout is progressing.
IT pros who use System Center Configuration Manager can get even more granular information. The recent 1802 release of ConfigMgr allows IT pros to execute their own internal phased deployment rings, so that after an initial group of PCs get Windows 10 and Office 365 ProPlus updates, IT pros can automatically initiate the next group to receive it once they've verified the downloads were successful.
Also simultaneous with the Windows 10 April 2018 Update, Microsoft is turning on the Windows 10 Enterprise S Mode functionality it announced last year at its Ignite IT pro conference. The option to run Enterprise in S mode can be deployed on PCs meant for firstline/customer service workers and those running "kiosks," or task-based devices. Microsoft has developed what it's calling the "Microsoft Kiosk browser" that it built on top of Microsoft Edge, which will be available from the Microsoft Store, to provide a full-screen browsing option.
Windows 10 Enterprise in S Mode gives IT pros access to Credential Guard, Application Guard, centralized management of the Microsoft Store and other features.
As part of a Microsoft 365 subscription, IT pros also can provide firstline workers with access to the full Office Mobile applications for iOS and Android, rather than just the web versions of those apps. (Microsoft is adding the right to use the full Office Mobile apps to its Office 365 E1, F1 and Business Essentials SKUs, starting today, beginning with support for Outlook Mobile, and extending to Word, PowerPoint and Excel "over the summer."
Other Microsoft 365 enhancements coinciding with the Windows 10 April 2018 update:
- Windows AutoPilot now includes an enrollment page that allows admins to set policies, apps, settings, etc. before the user starts using the device. Lenovo, Dell and HP already have announced plans to incorporate AutoPilot in new devices; others piling on include Toshiba, Panasonic and Fujitsu (as of this fall).
- A new Application Health Analyzer (AHA) tool, which can check for dependencies of companies' internally developed apps and make sure they are compatible with Windows 10 updates. This will be available in public preview "in the coming months," officials said.
- A new common admin center that brings together Office 365 and Microsoft 365
- Built-in Security and Compliance Center
Microsoft's newest pitch isn't to upgrade Windows 7 to Windows 10. It's now to upgrade Windows 7 (for which support ends in 2020) to Microsoft 365. Expect to hear lots more about this in the coming months.