NEW YORK — Microsoft started rolling out what the company characterizes as the first major update for Windows 10 on Thursday. The free release will mainly be enterprise-focused, bringing management and security tools to the IT professionals in your company.
But consumers are promised some benefits, too. Among other areas, Microsoft says that Windows 10 PCs running the new update will be able to cut boot times by as much as 30%, compared to a computer running Windows 7.
Windows 10 also finally arrives on the Xbox One video game console and soon select Windows Phones as well.
Indeed, under CEO Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s mandate for Windows 10 is built around the notion that Windows 10 apps will work across a whole slew of devices and things: phones, tablets, Internet of Things appliances, holographic experiences that materialize out of thin air — and yes, of course, traditional PCs, too.
The operating system, which formally launched at the end of July, is now actively in use on more than 110 million devices, Microsoft says, 12 million of which are business PCs. And that’s a key area of emphasis with this latest release.
For starters, Microsoft is unveiling Windows Update for Business, which lets IT staffers control when and how updates will be distributed and deployed within their organizations. Microsoft is also opening up a new Windows Store for Business, with companies choosing which apps, public or private, employees will be able to download. Companies can purchase software licenses in bulk at a discount, and manage such licenses through the store.
IT staff will also be able to manage the various privately owned Windows 10 devices that employees choose to bring to the office, reflecting the whole BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) trend.
Security is also getting a lot of attention, with what Microsoft corporate vice president of the Windows and Devices group, Yusuf Mehdi, calls “our strongest bucket.”
That bucket consists of various techie tools designed to help companies stymie intruders and those bent on spreading malware. As previously announced, Windows 10 safeguards will also include Windows Hello, which lets people who have capable devices use facial recognition and other biometrics for authentication, in lieu of traditional passwords.
Microsoft is also testing other data protection measures with the hopes of keeping corporate and personal data on given devices isolated and contained.
“Every week we see in the news another major data breach – costing organization’s productivity, customer’s trust and driving a real impact to their business,” Microsoft’s executive vice president of the Windows and Devices group Terry Myerson wrote in a company blog announcing the update. “We know these breaches often take 200+ days to detect, and we see the tremendous costs of them. Industry experts predict there will be over two million new malware apps by the end of the year. We designed Windows 10 to protect our customers from these modern threats.”
In his blog post, Myerson thanked Daimler, NESTLE, KPMG, Hendrick Motorsports, Virgin Atlantic, and the PGA Tour, as companies that have collaborated with Microsoft on Windows 10. Microsoft is also receiving support from Box, DocSign, SAP, and Salesforce.
Among the other benefits for consumers is the ability for you to use a pen or stylus to scribble a note to yourself about an event, say, and have Microsoft’s Cortana recognize the phone number or email or street address in that note. Cortana can then send you appropriate reminders to get you to your appointment on time, maybe even by offering the option to book an Uber.
Microsoft says it has improved the speed and security in the Edge Web browser inside Windows 10, with such feature improvements as the ability to hover over a Web tab to get a preview of the underlying page. You’ll also be able to sync favorite sites and reading list items across devices.
And the company has made tweaks to the Mail, Calendar and Photos apps in Windows 10.
As for Xbox, Windows 10 also promises to speed things up and make your most-used content more readily available. But while the user interface on Xbox will also be updated, your actual gaming experience will remain very much the same.
[Ed Baig – usatoday.com]