A 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
(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:
- Windows 10 Home
- Windows 10 Pro Education (an academic SKU)
- 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:
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:
See the following topics in this article:
- Inherited Activation: Description of a new feature available in Windows 10, version 1803 and later.
- The evolution of Windows 10 deployment: A short history of Windows deployment.
- Requirements: Prerequisites to use the Windows 10 Enterprise subscription model.
- Benefits: Advantages of Windows 10 Enterprise + subscription-based licensing.
- How it works: A summary of the subscription-based licensing option.
- Virtual Desktop Access (VDA): Enable Windows 10 Subscription Activation for VMs in the cloud.
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!