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Top 10 things mobile IT administrators need to know about Windows 10

On 20 November 1985, two years after the initial announcement, Microsoft shipped Windows 1.0, the first iteration of its operating system that has dominated the IT industry for three decades. The latest release of Windows 10 represents another step change and has ushered in a number of new, exciting features for the Windows operating system, with a new start menu, edge browser and Cortana personal help assistant, to name but a few. But while the user side of Windows 10 has been widely reported and reviewed, there has been less discussion of how it is in fact a major OS overhaul ‘under the bonnet’ that accelerates the evolution of Windows from a PC-centric OS to a modern enterprise architecture that importantly, embraces the new mobile ecosystem.

And Windows 10 offers huge opportunities for retail. Organisations can now tailor their assisted selling and clienteling workflows, allowing retail staff to drive sales by identifying opportunities for cross- and up-selling. Using mobile devices to access customer information, sales associates can provide enhanced clienteling to offer products and services that are relevant to the customer. And customers can transact anywhere with modern points-of-sale capabilities. Customers are also able to check out from anywhere in the store when sales associates use mobile, modern points-of-sale. Long lines can be shortened and abandoned shopping carts can be reduced when employees use mobile devices to complete customer purchases in line.

According to Gartner, by 2018, 40% of organisations will use Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) tools to manage a portion of their Windows PCs – a jump from less than 5% today. For enterprise IT, managing a wide range of devices gets more complex by the day, with administrators juggling more complicated security and management tasks than ever before. Until now, administrators have needed complex and disparate tools to secure and manage their devices. But now, Windows 10 and tools such as MobileIron EMM make their lives much simpler and streamline many traditional PC security and management responsibilities. 

Mobile IT administrators need to harness the benefits of mobile computing while mitigating the risks. By providing a single, converged OS and a unified set of EMM APIs, Windows 10 enables IT to manage all types of Windows devices as well as develop and manage universal apps that can run on any Windows device, including smartphones, tablets, laptops and PCs, using an EMM solution like MobileIron. This means that applications can be written once and run on any form factor and screen size using MobileIron for distribution, security, and app lifecycle management.

So, here are 10 things mobile administrators should know about Windows 10:

1) Single set of MDM APIs to control all Windows 10 devices: A unified set of MDM APIs enables IT to centralise device management and security through a single EMM console across tablets, desktops, phones and embedded devices.

2) Unified UX across devices: Windows 10 delivers a unified user experience across all devices so that many processes, from enrolment to configurations, are the same on phones, tablets, laptops and PCs.

3) EMM distribution of Win 32 Apps: With Windows 10, Win 32 applications no longer need to be packaged for distribution through the System Centre – they can be administered and distributed directly through an EMM console via MDM APIs directly, without the need for ’packaging’, which is a costly and labour-intensive process.

4) Granular control of Windows updates: Windows 10 offers IT administrators greater control of OS updates. This includes granular controls to scan for updates, install updates based on network connectivity and report update status to an EMM console.

5) Advanced Enterprise Data Protection: Enterprise Data Protection (EDP) enables devices to automatically identify and encrypt data that comes from business applications such as SharePoint, but not from personal apps such as Facebook. This data is then kept separate and managed with data loss prevention (DLP) controls through an EMM. This is not yet in the market but will be part of the next Windows OS update in summer 2016.

6) Azure active directory access control for Office 365: Windows 10 enables enterprises to block access to corporate cloud resources if a device falls out of compliance. EMM plays a central role in monitoring and reporting device status to Microsoft’s Azure Active Directory, which grants or denies account access based on information from the EMM provider.

7) Bulk license purchasing and distribution: IT can buy multiple applications or OS licences and distribute them through an EMM. Devices can install these online through the new Business Store portal or offline through a private network without requiring the device to connect to a public network.

8) Bulk provisioning: Windows 10 allows IT to efficiently activate large-scale device deployments by enabling admins to pre-configure and enrol devices in bulk with no individual user enrolment required.

9) Windows 10 App VPN: In Windows 10, App VPN uses application-based filters that allow only traffic from authorised applications, such as Outlook, Excel and PowerPoint, to access protected resources through a secure, encrypted connection. This capability is expected to come as part of the Windows OS update in summer 2016.

10) Single unified Windows store: Now there is one store to get all your apps, including in-house and third-party apps. With new EMM APIs, applications from the unified Windows Store can be seamlessly provisioned to thousands of users on any Windows 10 device. 

The release of Windows 10 is a major milestone in the evolution of the enterprise architecture, offering an exciting breakthrough for retail organisations ready to deliver unified device and security management across a wide range of fixed and mobile end points. With an EMM provider like MobileIron, administrators can access unified MDM APIs to manage any Windows

10 device and deliver a consistent, secure user experience regardless of form factor. Organisations that have mostly relied on traditional desktop tools to date need to begin the transition to EMM in order to secure and manage a greater portion of their enterprise devices and apps using a modern set of EMM tools.

Paul Conaty CISSP, CMDSP, is Lead Consultant and Solutions Architect at CWSI. He has over 15 years’ senior experience in the ICT sector primarily in telecoms and heads up CWSI’s Consulting Division. He is also heavily involved in global Consulting engagements working with many international organisations.​

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