Windows 11: Made for a Hybrid Workforce
Microsoft's latest OS, Windows 11, is now officially available as a free upgrade for some Windows 10 users. Along with it and new Windows 11 and Surface devices, Microsoft is entering the next chapter of Windows.
While much of the fanfare has been around the consumer-focused changes, like the new task menu and layout themes, Microsoft is touting that Windows 11 was built for our new normal of the hybrid workforce.
In a blog post, Microsoft 365 general manager Wangui McKelvey highlighted some of the new features in Windows 11 made with remote workers in mind, including Snap Layout and Groups, which allow for easy multitasking while keeping a clear and clean look across different projects and tasks, no matter where a user is physically working.
With Windows 11, we focused on improving the way you interact with these windows -- how you organize them, snap them to specific areas on the screen, group them together, and toggle back to those snap groups when you need them. In fact, one of my favorite features is that when I undock and re-dock my machine as I move around throughout my day, Windows 11 remembers my snap groups across my screens, saving me time and keeping me in the flow of work.
She also pointed to the new Microsoft Power Automate feature as a way to free up time typically spent on routine tasks. In an example given, an invoicing process can be made easier when apps like Outlook and Excel are connected to automatically input data and compile reports. These reports can also be automatically shared with a team -- no matter where they are in the world.
A More-Secure Windows
With the move away from the office, IT now has the difficult task of securing devices that no longer live on-premises. Windows 11 comes baked with many new and enhanced security features, like Windows Defender, Windows Hello, virtualization-based security, Device Encryption and Secure Boot, which should help protect enterprise data, no matter where it's at.
The requirement of Trusted Platform Module 2.0 hardware just to install the new OS, along with a more-frequent feature release cadence, will also help Windows 11 to stay secure for remote workers, said Jeremy Silber, director of innovation at Core BTS, an IT consulting firm.
"Windows 11 deployments will require PCs with TPM 2.0 chips installed to improve security at a hardware level to further enhance the Zero Trust model," said Silber. "Moving to an annual feature release will free up system administrators' time that was previously spent testing application capability, and instead spend it on other critical projects and initiatives."
Ease of Deployment
One major upside for IT when it comes to the new operating system is with how easy it is to deploy to remote workers, according to McKelvey. She says that the migration from Windows 10 to Windows 11 should be as seamless as a Windows 10 feature update, and management tools like Microsoft Endpoint Manager, Windows Autopilot and Windows Update for Business will work just as effectively as they do on last-generation Windows.
Pointing more specifically to Microsoft Endpoint Manager, McKelvey said new features, like Endpoint Analytics, which monitors and reports the current OS status of trusted devices, should help identify and prioritize migration needs.
A more-granular level of control is also coming to Windows 11 management. This month's preview release of Microsoft Endpoint Manager is increasing control and monitoring filters. Per McKelvey:
Previously you could apply filters when assigning apps, policies, and profiles, and now you can also apply filters to enrollment restrictions, enabling you to apply filters to enrollment restrictions based on the operating system, including for Windows 11. You will also be able to use filters to target different Enrollment Status Page experiences that show detailed progress of device and user setup to different types of devices.
And support for specific builds will also be extended, with what Microsoft is calling a "simplified servicing plan," which provides 36 months of support for Enterprise and Education editions of Windows (24 months for Home and Premium).
Those wanting to make the jump to Windows 11 can check to see that they meet system requirements with Microsoft's PC Health Check app.