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Microsoft Product Releases: What’s Going On With Windows 10?

Microsoft Product Releases

If you’re on our Managed Service Platform your already covered on how and when this rolls out in your environment

Windows 10 was released over three years ago, and the latest reports show that it’s now used on approximately 45.5 percent of all PCs that run Windows. This makes it the operating system with the most widespread usage around the world.

Since its release, it has also regularly undergone updates that have introduced new features and fixed various bugs. What’s the status of the latest update, and what can we expect in the near future?

Version 1809 Getting Rolled Out

Version 1809, the latest of the Windows 10 updates, was initially released in October of last year. Unfortunately, some users experienced problems with it, including file deletion and incompatibility with various applications.

Over the last couple of months, Microsoft has tackled these problems, and in the middle of January it began to roll out the Version 1809 update automatically. However, you may not have yet received the automatic update on your devices. The roll-out is phased, and the first devices to receive this latest version of Windows 10 are the ones that Microsoft has deemed most likely to run it without major issues.

If you don’t want to wait for the automatic update, you could try installing Version 1809 on your own. However, this may not be advisable, because it may not be a good fit with your device at this point; there’s a possibility you’ll experience frustrating performance issues. With a phased roll-out, Microsoft can carefully monitor the effects of the update and keep fixing it as needed. By the time it gets to you, you’ll receive the benefits of the improvements.

Exciting New Features for Windows 10

Along with monitoring the automatic updates of Version 1809, consider the upcoming features of Windows 10 explored in previews.

What are some of the highlights?

Intelligent Active Hours. Speaking of automatic updates, it can be terribly frustrating – and sometimes quite costly – when your computer starts an update when you’re in the middle of work. Windows 10 already lets you set Active Hours, telling your computer when not to initiate an update. Let’s say you’ve made your hours 9 am to 7 pm. What happens on days when you need to work later (or earlier) than usual? It’s unlikely you’ll remember to manually change your Active Hour settings. That’s when Intelligent Active Hours come into effect. Windows, on its own, will sense whether you’re still using your device outside of the Active Hours you personally set. This smart feature makes it less likely that an untimely update and restart will interrupt your work.

Windows Sandbox. This feature allows you to open an untested application on your computer without fear that it will destroy your device through malware or by other means. As you figure out what the application does, it will remain within the sandbox until you choose to dispose of it.

Windows Defender Antivirus Tamper Protection. Given the ever-present threat of viruses and malware, it’s critical to not only have Windows Defender Antivirus but to also limit who’s controlling its settings on your devices. Tamper Protection is a new feature that restricts the changes you can make to Windows Defender outside of the Windows Security app.

Cortana and Search Split. Cortana, the voice-activated digital assistant unique to Windows, has so far been integrated with Search in Windows 10, but Microsoft now plans to have them separated in the taskbar. What are the advantages to a separation? As discussed in an article at WindowsCentral.com, the rationale is that Microsoft can continue to develop the capabilities of both without having them interfere with each other.

There’s little wonder that Windows 10 is a popular operating system. Microsoft keeps coming out with improvements and is quick to tackle the bugs that crop up along the way. If you have any questions or concerns about Windows 10 installations, updates, and features, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’ll ensure that Windows 10 runs smoothly on your devices and that you make the most of what it can offer.

Microsoft Product Releases: Skype For Business Is Now Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Product Releases: Recent Windows 10

Microsoft Product Releases: Microsoft Windows Server 2016

Improved Security

The next generation of windows server is more robust with features than its predecessors

When it comes to Microsoft Product Releases, we can’t stress enough how Microsoft Windows Server 2016 is vital to a successful IT team. We can give you seven reasons why your team needs it. So, without further delay, read on:

Windows Server 2016 has multiple layers of security built-in to the operating system. This new security system helps block attacks against your data and applications that run on-premises and in the Cloud, as well as attacks against virtual machines. Several isolation and threat detection features activate as soon as Windows Server 2016 launches.

You can also activate other security features after server deployment:

  • switch on protection against malware/ransomware injection into server
  • block compromises to credentials, such as pass-the-hash attacks, using Credential Guard and Remote Credential Guard
  • pro-actively identify behavior indicating potential server breaches
  • expand security protection to include virtual machines, using Shielded Virtual Machines encrypted by Bitlocker. Bitlocker is full disc encryption that protects the hard drive from offline attacks, first introduced in Windows 2007, and now applied to virtual machines.

Credential Guard/Remote Credential Guard. Microsoft first introduced this security feature in Windows 10 Enterprise. The protection uses virtualization security techniques that wall off cryptic  information like credentials and put the cloaked information where only a set of privileged software has access. Even malware running within the operating system cannot break into the credentials. Credential Guard protects NTLM (NT Lan Manager) password hashes and Kerberos Ticket Granting Tickets as well as other credentials that applications store for their domains.

Shielded Virtual Machines. Microsoft introduced this security feature in Windows 2016. Shielded Virtual Machines protect Microsoft’s Hyper-V Generation 2 virtual machines from malicious attacks. Shielded VMs do not boot from a traditional BIOS system. Instead, they boot from something called a virtual Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI). Technology companies, 140 of them including Microsoft, developed UEFI to replace BIOS.

Shielded Virtual Machines work their security magic thanks to Secure Boot and Bitlocker encryption that resides inside the virtual disks. Bitlocker protects data whether it’s in transit or not moving. Secure Boot is a PC industry standard that checks the boot loader to make sure it only uses software trusted by the PC manufacturer.

Device Guard. This security feature make sure that only trusted software runs on your server — whether your applications run in-house or in the Cloud. It is security software and Enterprise hardware that together lock a device down to only run trusted software that you define in your code policies.

Control Flow Guard. This security feature developed to prevent vulnerabilities that result in memory corruption. One of its strengths is that it severely restricts from where code executes which means that hackers cannot take advantage of buffer overflows or other vulnerabilities to execute malicious code.

Windows Defender. This feature is an anti-malware protection for the server, not the operating system.

Microsoft Focuses on Hybrid Cloud. The new Windows Server 2016 is an example of Microsoft’s emphasis on Hybrid Cloud. The company is betting that certain Enterprise organizations will always want to transfer some of their data and work spaces to the Cloud while maintaining other parts of their data/applications on the in-house server. Microsoft designed Windows Server 2016 to facilitate organizations who want to take advantage of the Hybrid Cloud.

Have the most knowledgeable IT team. Windows Server 2016 is much more powerful than previous servers. To get the most out of Windows Server 2016, it makes sense to have highly trained IT personnel who have the skills necessary to run the server and all of its security features.

To talk more about this topic, or about anything else, please contact us. We want to help you with all your IT questions.