Microsoft Windows 10 1809: Top new features for IT pros

Microsoft's latest Windows 10 feature update, 1809, includes a number of new security, manageability and servicing features which may be of interest to IT professionals.

Microsoft began rolling out the Windows 10 October 2018 Update -- also known as Windows 10 1809 -- on October 2. Throughout the development process of that feature update, Microsoft execs have been calling out primarily consumer-focused features. But there are also a number of features in the 1809 update of potential interest to IT pros, as well.

Credit: Microsoft

Microsoft published a blog post earlier this week specifically about what's new for IT pros in this release. In it, officials noted that version 1809 will be rolling out globally to volume-license customers via the Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC) "in the coming weeks." It also will go to Microsoft partners via the Microsoft Action Pack Subscriptions (MAPS) via the Microsoft Partner Network on October 5. Other MAPS subscribers will get it on October 22.

There also will be a Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) release of Windows 10 Enterprise, knwon as Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC 2019. This is the third Windows 10 LTSC release since Microsoft began rolling out regular feature updates to Windows 10. LTSC updates get security fixes but not feature updates.

Microsoft is working on making devices and deployments easier to manage with Microsoft 365 (its bundle of Windows 10, Office 365 and Enterprise Mobility + Security). Because of that, a number of the new IT-pro-specific 1809 features light up when used along with Office 365 and EMS, officials noted.

As expected, a number of the new IT-pro-focused features in this release are security related. Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection is getting a number of new capabilities, including custom detection, support for Windows Server 2019 onboarding, managed security service provider support and more.

Microsoft is making a number of its threat intelligence services available via a single console view with Microsoft Threat Protection as of this release. Microsoft officials also said they've reduced the overall attack surface with new features and controls in Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection (specifically in Windows Defender Exploit Guard). They've also improved the antivirus functionality in Defender ATP using machine learning and AI models, they said.

Microsoft also is adding more ways to do login without passwords for Windows 10 devices via FIDO2, Web Authentication and Microsoft Authenticator as of this release. And there's now Windows Defender Firewall support for the Windows Subsystem for Linux in Windows 10 1809.

On the management front, Microsoft is continuing to beef up Wndows Autopilot for automatic device provisioning, adding a new self-deploying mode, plus an option for shared devices, kiosks and digital sinage. It's also supporting Hybrid Azure Active Directory (AAD) join with 1809. Desktop App Assure -- a new service for Windows 10 Enterprise and Education users -- will help fast track app-compatibility resolution for those migrating to Windows 10.

As Microsoft announced previously, the company is implementing a new update-package design for monthly patches that's smaller and more efficient as of 1809. Microsoft also is reducing the download package size for x64 systems for those using Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) or Configuration Manager.

Again, as previously announced, starting with 1809, all fall/September feature updates of Windows 10 Enterprise and Education will be supported for 30 months.

Some of the more consumer/general new features in 1809 also will likely be of interest to IT pros, such as tighter integration between Android phones and Windows via the "Your Phone" app; improved wireless projection; autocomplete support in the registry editor; faster sign-in to a shared Windows 10 PC; Web sign-in to Windows 10 and more.

The unified Microsoft Search functionality announced last week at Ignite is starting to roll out in Windows 10, as of 1809. This new search separates Cortana from Search and allows users to get local, intranet and web search results in a way that's common across Windows, Office 365 and Bing.

Microsoft has detailed a number of the IT-pro-targeted features in Windows 10 1809 in its online documentation.