Microsoft has unveiled what it has in store for Windows 11 and Windows 365 for commercial customers and IT managers, including new features in security, management, productivity and collaboration.
The announcements came during the company’s Windows Powers the Future of Hybrid Work event, one quarter through the first full year of Windows 11, and are largely designed to help IT professionals secure their environments and support their organization’s hybrid or distributed work strategies.
Citing data from Microsoft’s 2022 Work Trend Index, Microsoft’s Chief Product Officer of Windows and Devices Panos Panay said in a blog that Microsoft is introduced two new features that help protect against phishing and targeted malware.
According to the blog, enhanced phishing protection will be built into Windows with Microsoft Defender SmartScreen to help protect users from phishing attacks by identifying and alerting users when they are entering their Microsoft credentials into a malicious application or hacked website, according to Panay.
Meanwhile, Smart App Control uses code signing alongside the company’s AI models to ensure that only trusted applications are run to block one “one of the largest attack vendors” on Windows by default. Essentially, Smart App Control prevents users from running malicious apps on Windows devices by blocking untrusted or unsigned apps. Model inference occurs around the clock on the latest threat intelligence. The tool will ship on new devices with Windows 11 installed, and devices running previous versions of Windows 11 will have to be reset with a clean installation of Windows 11.
Another new feature Windows 11 will also have is Credential Guard enabled by default to help protect systems from credential theft attacks such as pass-the-hash or pass-the-ticket attacks and prevent malware from accessing system secrets.
Panay also teased using Microsoft Pluton to add another layer of security to Windows with direct integration into the CPU and operating system. The company said in January that Pluton-powered PCs would become available later this year.
In addition, Windows 11 will also feature personal data encryption and block vulnerable drivers by default with HVCI.
For IT management, Microsoft is releasing several new features designed to reduce the load on IT, including Windows Autopatch, a new feature on Windows Enterprise E3 in Windows Endpoint Manager that automates updates for Windows, Microsoft Edge and Office. This is designed to make Patch Tuesday easier to swallow for IT professionals such as system administrators.
Microsoft is also bringing Azure Join support for Cloud PCs to general availability in May, making it easier for IT admins to manage Windows 365 Cloud PCs through Endpoint Manager.
Also in the way of IT management, Microsoft is bringing application management tools to Microsoft Edge to give employees more flexibility in how and where they work and secure personal devices when employees use them to do work. App protection policies in Endpoint Manager for Edge will allow administrators to configure how data flows in and out of their organization and define the allowed Windows Defender threat level of the device, according to Microsoft.
The company also announced plans for premium endpoint management in Endpoint Manager that will combine mission-critical endpoint and security management tools in a single cloud solution. The first such add-on is remote help, a new tool designed to help employees with day-to-day IT needs with secure, helpdesk-to-user connections.
Users will also be able to switch between their Windows 365 Cloud PC and local PC with a single click thanks to new integrations. In addition, Windows 365 Boot will be able to boot straight to Windows 365 Cloud PCs in just one step, according to the company.
For collaboration and productivity, new features include things like system-wide Live captions, Voice Access, Focus, and a redesigned, cloud-powered File Explorer designed to help users find what they’re looking for easier.
These new features have staggered availability dates, so we recommend reading these Microsoft resources on the various announcements to learn more:
- Windows powers the future of hybrid work
- New Experience in Windows 11 and Windows 365 empower new ways of working
- Remote help—Enterprise-grade assistance tool now available
- The Endpoint Manager’s guide to what’s new and coming to Windows 11
- Get current and stay current with Windows Autopatch
- Journey to cloud management
- Great Expectations: Making Hybrid Work Work
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