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FCW : October 2016
L AST YEAR, Microsoft Corp. introduced Windows 10—the latest version of its Windows operating system. This new version of its flagship OS touts myriad features that should appeal to government agencies; especially those looking to increase security and improve mobile device support. Released in July 2015, and updated most recently in August this year, Windows 10 is a significant upgrade from earlier versions of Windows. It’s faster, easy to use, more secure, and provides a better way to manage and use mobile devices than its predecessors. For those who struggled upgrading from Windows 7 to Windows 8, there is good news. Microsoft offers an easier migration experience with Windows 10. Windows 10 aims to improve productivity and the user experience, simplify device management and fortify security. It also strengthens core features, such as giving Azure Active Directory users a single sign-on to cloud-hosted apps. With Windows 10, Microsoft also introduced the PC version of the Cortana digital assistant and a more familiar start menu. Users can manage all Windows 10 devices with the same tools, and restrict other users to a specific set of applications. Developers can also create Universal Apps based on Windows 10—a single application that works across various Windows devices. “From a productivity standpoint, it is very feature rich, easy to use, and much easier transition than previous migrations,” says Jim Smid, Chief Technology Officer at Iron Bow Technologies. Windows 10 also lets agencies take advantage of the latest hardware advances, such as touch-enabled screens. If all the new features aren’t enough of a motivating factor to consider an upgrade, keep in mind that eventually, Microsoft will stop supporting these older versions of Windows. UP THE ANTE FOR SECURITY “Perhaps most relevant for government agencies are the security enhancements in Windows 10,” says Smid. These include Device Guard, which prevents malware from being installed on devices and Microsoft Passport, which offers two-step authentication. (See “Windows 10 Delivers on Security”) Security is a serious concern for any organization and Windows 10 addresses these concerns with significant improvements from previous versions. “The new challenge for government agencies will be how to take advantage of all the new features and functionality, for agencies that haven’t already standardized on multi-factor authentication, features like facial recognition and 3D camera offer out of the box functionality,” says Smid. “They still have to be accredited and agencies have to figure out how they can use them.” Stronger security was a primary reason the Department of Defense decided to migrate to Windows 10, a process it began in January 2016. The migration will also help DoD lower the cost of IT and streamline the operating environment within the department. In what will likely be one of the largest Windows 10 deployments in government, DoD plans to upgrade about 4 million devices and systems. The goal is to complete this in one year. Windows 10 will help DoD install software patches faster and increase accountability and transparency across its networks, making it easier to detect attacks on its systems. To help speed the migration process, the department released a secure host baseline. This is a secure, pre-configured “build from” capability for military agencies. Still, the upgrade comes with some challenges that can slow progress down. These include third-party driver compatibility issues, hardware upgrades and legacy systems. Early reports show Windows 10 migration appears to be well worth the effort. A Forrester Consulting study showed Windows 10 early adopters saved money; had an easier time installing and GETTING READY TO MOVE TO WINDOWS 10 Microsoft’s latest OS boosts security and eases management, but migration takes careful planning. SPONSORED REPORT TIPS FOR A SMOOTH WINDOWS 10 MIGRATION Start slowly. Pilot the upgrade first with a small group of users before rolling it out agency-wide. Pilot users should be within the IT department and other parts of the agency, and should be comfortable doing some trouble-shooting on their own. Be sure to test how the upgrade plays out in remote offices and on mobile devices. Test for software compatibility, including with enterprise applications, and how those interact with software-as -a - service and virtual private networks. Determine what hard ware must be replaced; and have a technology refresh plan. Rely on lessons learned from previous migrations. Don’t be afraid to seek a technology partner that can help. IT Mandate-Iron Bow Dell-FCW-24281-0916.indd 2 10/5/16 6:53 AM
September 30, 2016
November and December 2016