Upgrading Windows 10 Versions With Intune

windows-10-header1A month ago I blogged about using Flow and conceded that sometimes someone has already written a fantastic blog post on a topic I’d wanted to cover. In cases where there is already awesome content I think it’s best to just recognize that and link my own readers to the

original post.

To that end, this morning my colleague Dan Bowen tipped me off via LinkedIn to to Neil Fairclough’s post:

Windows 10 Edition Upgrade (with Intune)

(People often ask me why I blog. There are two simple reasons: firstly, I enjoy writing and by writing posts it often cements ideas/knowledge in my own mind and clarifies my understanding. Secondly, it allows me to build a catalog of posts that I can easily refer to for my customers and colleagues around EdTech, often inspired by or linking off to posts from people with far greater knowledge than myself – such as Neil in this instance).

I have to admit, prior to joining Microsoft my default version of Windows 10 was Pro – I had very limited knowledge of the other versions. I knew about Home (but never used it because my device was always domain joined) and really didn’t understand the features of Enterprise or Education. If you’re after a quick comparison of the versions then check out this link. I’m also very fortunate to have a colleague called Amit Pawar who is both incredibly knowledgeable and experienced in the various versions and features of Windows and happy to share this with me!

Back to Noel’s post: he’s succinctly summed up how schools can easily upgrade versions of Windows 10 from lower (often cheaper) versions to the higher, more feature-rich versions such as Windows 10 Education. This can be done in a few ways:

  • Manually entering the product key of the higher version of Windows 10.
    • This is fine when you’re dealing with only a handful of devices, but not ideal when trying to manage devices at scale.
  • Creating a provisioning package that is loaded onto a USB stick and inserted into the device.
    • Slightly better than the above but still requires manual intervention
  • Using Microsoft Intune to upgrade the edition of Windows 10 through the use of a device configuration profile.
    • As a MDM, Intune enables changes like this at scale and in an automated fashion.

The Different Upgrade Pathways For Windows 10

You may be surprised by the number of versions of Windows 10 available, and equally surprised by the number of ways these can be upgraded. In my experience, most schools are starting with one of three versions of Windows 10:

  1. Windows 10 Home
  2. Windows 10 Pro Education (an academic SKU)
  3. Windows 10 Pro

the upgrade destination for many schools is to Windows 10 Education (essentially, this is Windows 10 Enterprise with a few additional Education specific features), although many schools are often content with simply going from Windows 10 Home to Windows 10 Pro. To understand all of your options the helpful chart below can be found from the official documentation:

Win10 Upgrade Paths

Note: the “x” is not supported, the green tick is supported and requires a reboot to complete the upgrade, the blue tick is supported and no reboot is required.

If you’re interested in upgrade pathways for Windows 10 in S Mode (for Pro or Education) then check out the documentation here.

My Point of View:

Intune is a powerful MDM that allows IT administrators to manage many aspects of the devices in their organisations, from the underlying Operating System to the individual applications that are installed. Being able to easily upgrade the edition of Windows 10 from the original version that came at the time of purchase to a higher version that you may be licensed for through Intune is a great time saver.

I’m based in New Zealand where there is a national Schools’ Agreement with the Ministry of Education where every State school has access to Microsoft M365 A3 for Education meaning schools have access to, amongst other things,

  • Intune (including Intune for Education) as part of the EMS Suite
  • Windows 10 Enterprise volume licensing

This means that the ease of upgrades described above can be achieved quickly – gone are the days of downloading different ISO versions of Windows – simply replace the product key and push out via Intune. Of course, there is another way to also do this with M365 A3/A5 where devices are already on Windows 10 Pro:

Windows 10 Subscription Activation

See the following topics in this article:

While it is probably possible to argue that users are spoilt for choice when it comes to both versions of Windows 10 and also upgrade pathways to get to your preferred version, the simple fact is that it has never been easier to manage Windows devices in an automated and seamless way. Choice, along with simplified tools, are always welcomed by IT administrators, especially in the education sector!

I am always keen to discuss what I've written and hear your ideas so leave a reply here...

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