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Microsoft: These two new tools will help you get ready for Windows 11

Still not made the move to Windows 11? You're not alone, but these two new toolkits could help make the shift easier.
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Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer on
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Image: Getty/MoMo Productions

Still haven't moved to Windows 11 in your business? Microsoft has now released an updated Windows 11 and Office 365 Deployment Lab Kit and the Windows 11 Onboarding Kit to prepare business users for the upgrade from Windows 10. 

Windows 11 is yet to be taken up en masse among enterprises, but Microsoft chief Satya Nadella yesterday said the company is seeing "higher monthly usage of Windows 11 applications". Perhaps to push things along, Microsoft has also released two kits to get users and IT admins familiar with the post-Windows 10 world. 

The Windows 11 and Office 365 Deployment Lab Kit aims to help admins plan, test, and validate modern desktops running Windows 11 Enterprise and Microsoft 365 Enterprise apps. 

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The lab provisions a Hyper-V dependent virtual lab environment that aims to reflect a modern enterprise. It includes domain-joint desktop clients, a domain controller, an internal gateway, and a fully configured Configuration Management instance.  

Microsoft has published an extensive guide for using the virtual lab, covering Windows 11 deployment tools like Autopilot, Windows Service configuration for deploying Windows 11, deploying Microsoft 365 apps locally and in the cloud, managing Edge, and security configurations for everything from BitLocker encryption to Microsoft's cross-platform Defender for Endpoint. 

Key tools the lab cover include Microsoft Endpoint Configuration Manager, Office Customization Tool, OneDrive, and Windows Autopilot among others. It also covers Windows Service, which can be used to upgrade to Windows 11. Windows Service upgrades rely on Configuration Manager and Windows Update for Business. 

Meanwhile, the Windows 11 onboarding kit is a set of Office files containing templates and documents that help admins communicate with users. The content can be customized as needed. 

"With the Windows 11 Onboarding Kit, our goal is to also provide you with the materials you need to prepare, educate, and support your end users in their Windows 11 journey," Microsoft says in a Microsoft Tech Community blog post

It aims to support a Windows 11 deployment to all devices within a global enterprise.

Microsoft earlier this month released Windows 11 "guided simulations" that demonstrate how similar Windows 11 is to Windows 10 while delivering new usability and security benefits. It walks users through some of the lessons Microsoft learned as it rolled out Windows 11 to 190,000 PCs last year

Microsoft Windows revenues have been caught up in the wider PC industry's slowdown due to China's COVID-19 shutdowns in Shanghai. PC shipments were down 15% year on year in the second quarter, according to Canalys.  

At Tuesday's FY'22 Q'4 call with investors, Microsoft CFO Amy Hood said Windows OEM revenues had taken a $300 million hit from the Shanghai shutdowns. Windows OEM revenues were down 2% for the quarter.

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However, Microsoft chief Satya Nadella put a positive spin on it, noting that "we continue to see more PCs shipped than pre-pandemic, and are taking share". 

Microsoft hasn't revealed Windows 11 adoption figures but Nadella said it was seeing "higher monthly usage of Windows 11 applications, with increased time spent across creative work, collaboration, gaming, media, and writing code…"

Also, Azure Virtual Desktop monthly active usage increased nearly 60% year over year, according to Nadella.

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