Autopilot – Even Easier Device Enrollment & Deployment In Windows 10 Out Of The Box


UPDATE 10th July: Information on how to add devices to Autopilot via the Windows Store For Business / Education can be see here


UPDATE 3rd July: More technical information on Autopilot is available here, including example PowerShell scripts on how to collect the hardware identifier for existing devices you may want to enroll into Autopilot.


With Windows 10 Creators Update you can now configure and deploy devices even easier, thanks to the newly announced Autopilot and Intune (part of the EMS suite).

Autopilot is similar to Apple’s Device Enrollment Program (DEP), in that you can pre-register a unique hardware identifier before the device is even turned on. When the device is shipped to the end user (think either a teacher or student purchasing a BYOD laptop), as soon as they connect their new laptop to a wireless network, it will be registered by Autopilot and provide:

  • A custom set up experience as determined by the school’s ICT department (or their partner), this could include skipping steps in the device setup that are unnecessary or confusing for end users
  • Branded setup, showing the school name and logo so the student/teacher can be confident in the security of the device and trust the setup process
  • The option to enter their school email address/password which would automatically enroll the device into Intune (or Intune for Education), resulting in the correct applications and settings being pushed to the device

Microsoft’s blog announcing Autopilot described it as follows:

With Windows AutoPilot, IT professionals can customize the Out of Box Experience (OOBE) for Windows 10 PCs and enable end users to take a brand-new Windows 10 device and—with just a few clicks—have a fully-configured device ready for business use. There are no images to deploy, no drivers to inject, and no infrastructure to manage. Most importantly, users can go through the process independently, without making any decisions and without needing to involve IT.

Some of the benefits of Microsoft Autopilot include:

  • Intune can push policies, settings, and configuration to the device, and install Office 365 and other apps without IT ever having to touch the device or apply a custom image to the device.
  • Intune can configure Windows Update for Business to apply the latest updates.
  • The device can automatically upgrade from Windows 10 Pro to Windows 10 Enterprise seamlessly using AAD–no product keys to manage, no reboots, no prompts for the user (Requires a Windows 10 Enterprise E3 subscription)

Here is how you can set up the Autopilot program and see it in action:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The setup process when using Autopilot – note the branded sign-in page with logo and organisation name

My Point Of View:

I see Autopilot as a tremendously helpful tool for IT Admins in education as it will allow them to be more hands-free on the configuration and deployment of devices. Many schools love the simplicity of Apple’s Device Enrollment Program and now Autopilot enables similar functionality with full Windows 10.

An additional benefit is theft protection – if a device was enrolled into Autopilot and was later stolen, then even if it was wiped, it could not be used by the thief because as soon as it is connected to the internet the hardware identifier will enroll it into Autopilot again and start the school’s setup process – this can not be avoided until the device is un-enrolled by the school itself.

The other area where I see Autopilot adding significant value is BYOD. If a school uses an education partner and parents purchase their child’s BYOD device through the partner’s portal, then the hardware identifier could be registered with the school at the time of sale. As a result, when the student turns it on at home it is automatically connected to the school’s environment and has all of the apps, setting and network credentials pushed to it, ready for the first day of school – no more “onboarding days” at the school to get connected!

Even though this was just announced today, as ZDNet astutely picked up, this functionality was included in the Creators Update released back in April – just one more reason for schools to keep their computers updated on recent Windows 10 builds.

Simple Addition To BYOD Laptop: A Retractable Handle On Spine

I’m seeing a wide range of devices aimed at the education market these days in my job with Microsoft and BYOD in particular is getting increasing choice of really good hardware designs.

One option that has stood out the most to me as a real benefit for students was a laptop with a built in handle that retracted into the spine of the laptop. I actually did not notice this for over a week after I received the laptop but now I use it all the time when moving the device around. Here are a few pictures of it:

handle-retracted.jpg

View from underneath the laptop with the handle fully retracted, it is flush in line with the spine of the laptop.

2017-06-07 14.31.19

Viewed from above, the handle is pulled out.

2017-06-07-14-30-33.jpg

Viewed from “behind” the device with the screen closed. The handle automatically retracts into place when released.

2017-06-07-14-29-57.jpg

Holding the laptop naturally with the handle taking the full weight of the device.

The other neat feature of this device is that it actually has a loop for the stylus attached to the keyboard side of the laptop (not the screen) as well as a lanyard tie to the loop on the laptop so the pen is always attached and can not be lost:

lanyard.jpg

It’s small design features like this that can add significant value to students in the BYOD market and it’s great to see innovations like this happening.

If you have seen a great feature on a device recently, leave a note in the comments explaining what it was and why you think it added real value to the device.

Enrolling a Windows 10 Home Edition BYOD Device Into Intune For Education

I’ve run a lot of demonstrations of Intune for Education  over the last few months and today I tried to see if I could enroll a Windows 10 Home Edition BYOD device into Intune for Education.

This is an important consideration because many of the devices that students bring to school typically only have Windows 10 Home Edition on them and this can not be joined to a local Domain or Azure Active Directory. It’s worth being aware, however, that schools can set up the Kivuto portal for free, and offer their students the ability to boost their BYOD Windows 10 version to Pro Edu for free and for the life of the device. You can see how to do this here.

Here are the steps to join a BYOD Win10 Home Edition device to Intune for Education:

1) Under settings, go to “Access work or school” and click the “Connect” button in the main view on the right:

1

2) Alternatively, if you hit the Windows button and search for “About this PC” you’ll see overall device info like below. Note the Edition is Windows 10 Home and there is also a link directly to “Connect to work or school”

2

3) When prompted, enter your full school email address as below:

3

4) When prompted, enter your school password:

4

5) If entered correctly, you’ll receive confirmation it’s been done:

5

6) You will then be advised that the device is being registered and applications and policy is being applied in line with the settings in Intune for Education:

6

7) Once completed, you will now be returned to the “Connect to work or school” screen and can now see your account listed as below:

 

7

8) As a reference, below is the product licenses assigned to the demo user in my Office 365 Tenant:

8

9) If you hit the Windows key you should see the various apps streaming to the device as per the policy in Intune for Education:

9

For schools, knowing that they can can enroll Windows 10 Home Edition BYOD directly into Intune For Education is an important step as they don’t need to worry about upgrading the devices to Win10 Pro / Edu.

 

OneDrive Files On Demand – Perfect for BYOD

ssd-vs-hdd

Credit: TechoFAQ

Over the last couple of years it has been evident that increasing numbers of BYOD laptops have transitioned to Solid State Disks (SSD) which is terrific since they are significantly faster than traditional Hard Disk Drives (HDD), have lower failure rates and also improve battery life.

However, due to their higher price point, the actual available storage volume of SSD is often markedly lower than equivalently priced HDD.  This means students are faced with the difficult decision around what content do they store locally on the their device versus using selective sync in the OneDrive cloud and/or storing on an external USB drive.

Selective Sync effectively allows you to upload content into OneDrive that you don’t access frequently, and then download it when you do need it. Critically, however, this content will not appear in your local File Explorer browser so you can’t “see” it unless you log into OneDrive via a web browser and choose to sync it locally to your device.

OneDrive Files On Demand Coming In Windows 10 Fall Creators Update

This is why the announcement last Friday at the Build 2017 conference was so exciting. A new feature will allow you to see all of your content in OneDrive in your File Explorer, irrespective of whether it is stored locally on your device, or only in OneDrive in the Microsoft Cloud. Then, if you want to access any content that is only in OneDrive it will automatically be downloaded “on demand” when you click to open the file/folder.

You can optionally choose to then “always keep on this device” if you are going to be requiring regular or off-line access to this file.

Read the full blog post about this here.

Here are some images from the original blog post to show you how this works:

1

Note that the selected folder takes up 1.37TB of storage in the OneDrive cloud, but that locally in File Explorer it shows 0 bytes on the local device.

2

The various status of each file and folder is shown in the “Status” column, indicating whether it is in the OneDrive Cloud only or stored locally on the device. Right mouse clicking allows you to choose to “Always keep on this device”

3

If a file is not stored locally, simply double clicking on it as you normally would to open a file will immediately trigger a download to open the requested file.

My Point of View:

I see this as being a massive aid for schools, helping both teachers and students maximize the performance of their devices. Getting more SSD into teacher and student devices will drive longer battery life, lower failure rates and faster accessing of content. However, by being able to seamlessly see what is in the Cloud and what is stored locally removes any barrier or confusion around the location of content for end users.

With many BYOD devices starting with 64GB of storage, this opens up the vast OneDrive storage capacity to students and teachers in an easier, more seamless way, meaning there is even less reason to use USB hard drives for storing content.

This feature will be available in the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update as well as new OneDrive features for iOS/Android devices.

Upgrading BYOD Devices To Win10 Education

windows-10-student-729x90-v3

UPDATE: I have had a number of schools asking me whether this upgrade path below allows students in a BYOD programme with MacBooks to upgrade to Win10 Edu for dual booting. The good news is that the answer is YES. Because Mac OSX / Mac OS is considered a qualifying license for the Windows Volume Licensing programme, students would be able to obtain a copy of Win10 Edu if their school sets up the Kivuto portal below. This PDF is the best source for further information.

I’ve come across a few schools that are unsure how they can upgrade student-owned BYOD devices from Windows 7/8 or 10 Home edition to Windows 10 Education edition. The main reason schools would want to do this is to manage the devices using a tool such as Microsoft inTune to push out apps or policy and, in rare instances, joining BYOD to the school’s domain. Provided the school is licensing their faculty correctly, they can extend a free upgrade to Win10 Education to their students too.

There is a good comparison between Windows 10 Home / Pro / Education editions here.

To achieve this, Microsoft has partnered with Kivuto to manage the software distribution through a private portal for each school. The process is pretty straight forward:

  1. Schools need to sign up for the programme by clicking here
    1. Schools need to provide their EES / MoE Agreement Number
  2. Verification generally takes only a few days
  3. The Kivuto Store Front is set up for the school
    1. This can be branded / themed to match school requirements
  4. Promotional material can be acquired to encourage students to upgrade to Windows 10 Education edition.

windows-10-student-300x250-v2 There are plenty of reasons why schools want to be standardizing on Windows 10 as a platform for staff and students and with this option, they can now easily ensure student-owned BYOD devices are running the same platform as school-owned devices for no additional cost.

Additionally, the Windows 10 Education license is a perpetual one so even after the student leaves the school they can retain the Windows 10 license on their current device, which adds even more value to this opportunity for students.