With the release of the Windows 10 Creators Update, Microsoft continues to make good on its promise to provide steady, yearly updates to keep improving the OS over its lifetime. This third feature update, dubbed Build 1703, brings with it an assortment of end-user enhancements intended to help users push the boundaries of what their Windows 10 computer can do.
While the focus has remained largely on the end-user impact, enterprise users and IT personnel have more than their share of improvements that add new features and revitalize existing ones. Let's have a look at the 10 best features contained in Creators Update.
1: Mobile device management (MDM) enhancements
Taking a page out of Group Policy Management Console (GPMC), Microsoft has enhanced its MDM support by allowing security policies that were previously available only to GPMC to be applied natively via MDM. This includes configuration service providers (CSPs) ,which extend management to a number of configuration settings controlling hardware, software, deployment, and application virtualization.
2: Registry Editor
The Windows Registry has gained an address bar feature to better search for specific keys and entries. It also has picked up keyboard shortcuts and the ability to recognize abbreviations for commonly used data fields to simplify the process of managing the registry.
3: Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL)
In an effort to bridge the gap between Windows and Linux distributions, Microsoft has designed the WSL to allow the use of Linux command-line tools natively on Windows 10. No virtualization required.
4: Mobile application management (MAM) support
Built on top of Windows Information Protection (WIP), MAM is used to effectively manage access to a company's data and security on personally owned devices. When enabled, enforcement of WIP policies is limited to WIP-aware applications, as well as, those applications which are "enlightened", and can discern corporate data from personal data to apply its policies to safely protect corporate data without handling personal data.
SEE: BYOD policy (Tech Pro Research)
5: Windows Configuration Designer
Used in the provisioning of packages for a number of Windows-based devices, Windows Imaging and Configuration Designer, as it was formerly named, was available as part of the Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (ADK). Now called Windows Configuration Designer, it's available as an app in the Windows Store. It retains its feature set and gains several abilities. Not only can it configure devices offline, but it can also do so through a number of means, such as NFC tags, USB flash drives, and barcodes.
Though not a tool that will be immediately utilized by organizations, those with the existing equipment in place will welcome this new command-line tool that enables Master Boot Record (MBR) disk conversion to the more modern GUID Partition Table (GPT) format, which is a requirement when using UEFI instead of the older, less secure BIOS.
7: Windows Hello for Business
Drawing upon its success with Windows Hello in the consumer space, as well as accommodating Azure AD users, Microsoft has developed its authentication scheme for Creators Update to include enhanced facial recognition, dynamic locking of a device when the user is away, and two-factor authentication for improved security.
8: MDM Migration Analysis Tool (MMAT)
MMAT is a new Microsoft application aimed at providing administrators guidance on transitioning Windows 10 device management from Group Policy to MDM. The tool assesses which policies are being applied and whether they are currently available (or have a similar component) within MDM for ease of manageability.
9: Group Policy
The Creators Update includes new policies to manage Start Menu and Taskbar layouts, including restricting access to pages within the Settings app by hiding the pages from end users. Additional policies are geared toward managing support for Microsoft Edge by customizing various security and privacy settings in addition to the overall experience.
10: Windows Defender Antivirus
Beginning with a name change to Windows Defender Antivirus, Windows 10's built-in malware protection now sports the capability to set the level of protection, along with Block At First Sight—Microsoft's answer to protecting against new strains of malware that may as of yet be undetected, based on a file's suspicious activity and by comparing it to automated analysis with its cloud protection back end.
- Windows 10 Creators Update: Here's what to look out for
- Windows 10 Creators Update: The smart person's guide
- Windows 10: Ten missed opportunities in the Creators Update
- What's new for IT pros in Windows 10 Creators Update
What are your impressions of the Windows 10 Creators Update so far? Share your experiences and opinions with fellow TechRepublic members.
Jesus Vigo is a Network Administrator by day and owner of Mac|Jesus, LLC, specializing in Mac and Windows integration and providing solutions to small- and medium-size businesses. He brings 19 years of experience and multiple certifications from several vendors, including Apple and CompTIA.