It doesn't matter how big or how small your enterprise operation happens to be, the security of your information network should be of great concern to you on a daily basis. Some malicious person somewhere is attacking some enterprise's network right now and chances are better than they should be that they will be successful. That's just the way the world works in 2016.
Microsoft has been making major upgrades to the Windows 10 operating system to help enterprises combat the onslaught of attacks, but data breaches are still a common occurrence. For the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, Microsoft is promising to add new and better security features that it hopes will make Windows 10 the only viable system choice for enterprises around the world.
Microsoft is placing a lot of emphasis on the Edge browser, and the way it is constructed, to prevent security breaches. For the Anniversary Update, Microsoft Edge will isolate Flash content outside the browser so attacks using those vulnerabilities will be less effective. Edge will also be altered so that neither it nor Internet Explorer will have access to so many Windows subsystems. That should help limit attacks that use vulnerabilities to noncritical systems that web browsers shouldn't have ever been able to touch anyway.
Windows 10 Anniversary Update will also see another upgrade to Windows Defender. According to Microsoft, these improvements will increase the effectiveness of a system that is already operating at a 99.8% detection rate in prevalence testing as of April 2016.
While Windows Hello, Microsoft's multifactor authentication solution, is already integrated into Windows 10, the Anniversary Update promises to add more features. One of the most asked-for features from customers using Windows Hello is support for wearables and other mobile devices. For example, an employee could log into a smartphone or badge with a fingerprint and then have that authenticated device grant access to a desktop computer using Bluetooth or other low-range wireless communication.
The Windows 10 Anniversary Update is going to have some major new and upgraded features, particularly when it comes to cybersecurity. Unfortunately, in this era of information network breaches being reported practically every day, that is where Microsoft has to spend much of its development budget.
With the Anniversary Update, Microsoft claims it has produced the most secure version of Windows ever. The company is putting its reputation on the line and banking the company's future on its ability to deliver a secure enterprise information technology platform. The key to this better security is that enterprises must be running Windows 10.
Microsoft is essentially drawing a line in the sand for enterprises—if your enterprise is running pre-Windows 10 versions, it is subject to significant security risks that Microsoft will no longer deal with. If your enterprise is all in and running Windows 10, especially after the Anniversary Update, Microsoft is your partner. If you're running Windows XP, 7, or 8, Microsoft can't help you.
This is the new reality: Microsoft is closing the chapter on previous versions of Windows. Enterprises shunning Windows 10 may find themselves at a competitive disadvantage sooner rather than later. From Microsoft's perspective, saying no to Windows 10 is no longer a choice—it is an act of defiance and your security will suffer because of it. Certainly it's something IT pros should be thinking about on August 2, 2016.
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Before long, Windows 10 is going to be the only version of Windows that matters. Are you ready? Share your opinions with fellow TechRepublic members.
Mark W. Kaelin has been writing and editing stories about the IT industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to BreakingModern.com, aNewDomain.net, and TechRepublic.