Microsoft aims to simplify Windows 10 PC set-up with Windows AutoPilot

Microsoft is adding several new management features to Windows 10 Fall Creators Update and its Intune mobile-device management service later this year.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft has developed a new set of cloud-powered technologies aimed at simplifying the set-up of new Windows 10 PCs that it's calling Windows AutoPilot.

Credit: Microsoft

Windows AutoPilot and a new Windows AutoPilot Deployment Program, both announced on June 29, are Microsoft's latest attempts to improve the provisioning and deployment experience around Windows 10..

(Microsoft has used the "Autopilot" brand before for its own datacenter-management technology, some codename buffs may recall. But Windows AutoPilot seemingly has no connection to the original Microsoft Autopilot.)

Update: So it seems that even though Microsoft announced Windows AutoPilot today, the Windows AutoPilot technology is built into the Windows 10 Creators Update release that started rolling out in April (version 1703). From another related Microsoft blog post:

"These capabilities are available today for Windows 10, version 1703. To try them out, check out the Windows AutoPilot documentation, which will walk you through the process. The Microsoft Store for Business and Cloud Solution Provider program will provide organizations and partners with the ability to register devices and configure Windows AutoPilot Deployment in the near future. We're also working with MDM partners to integrate the AutoPilot Deployment configuration experience."

The Windows AutoPilot Deployment Program is for OEMs, distributors, and resellers. It will allow them to provide users with "business-ready" devices by linking Windows 10 PCs to an organization, existing Azure Active Directory, and Intune mobile-device management services and preloading it with Office 365 ProPlus apps.

The Surface team will be working with some customers and partners at some point this summer as part of the Windows AutoPilot Deployment Program, officials said. The program will be broadly available to customers later this year. Microsoft also is working to allow the Microsoft Store for Business and Microsoft Partner Center to provide Windows AutoPilot support, allowing businesses and partners to enroll devices themselves.

In keeping with the Windows AutoPilot branding, Microsoft also will include in the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update this Fall a feature called Windows AutoPilot Reset, which officials describe as "a quick way to reset a PC to a known good state while maintaining MDM management and AAD (Azure Active Directory) connection state."

Microsoft is adding more features to Intune to enable it to take advantage of Windows AutoPilot and the coming Windows Defender Application Guard technology that will be in the Fall Creators Update. Intune will provide a way to deploy and configure Windows Defender Application Guard and Windows Firewall rules. And Intune also will provide an option to show progress during the device provisioning process, so employees can see information about what their companies are managing, officials said.

Devices joined to Active Directory and automatically registered in Azure Active Directory can be enrolled in Intune or another mobile-device-management service via Windows Autopilot Deployment, officials said.

Credit: Microsoft

In other Windows 10 management news, Microsoft is planning to add a new Device Health capability to Windows Analytics. Device Health is meant to let users know proactively about potential issues that could affect their computing experience, and to offer options for resolving those issues.

Windows Analytics (formerly known as Upgrade Analytics) works with the Microsoft Operations Management Suite. The Device Health capability will be available "soon" for preview, with general availability later this calendar year, Microsoft officials said.

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