Microsoft has officially made Windows 11 generally available to businesses and consumers via a free upgrade for eligible Windows 10 PCs and on new PCs with the company’s newest operating system preinstalled.
The operating system is being marketed as a sleek new version of Windows that brings over many popular features from Windows 10 while providing deeper integrations with tools like Microsoft Teams and making it easier for working professionals to do their jobs.
According to Microsoft, IT admins should begin “targeted deployments” now as part of their regular Windows Update practices. As part of the announcement, Microsoft released a series of blogs to help both consumers and organizations manage the upgrade, including these tools to help support an organization’s Windows 11 deployment.
The operating system that Microsoft says enables greater productivity and collaboration with redesigned interfaces is available through familiar channels, including the Windows Server Update Services and Windows Update for Business.
The operating system can also be downloaded from Visual Studio Subscriptions, the Software Download Center (via the Windows 11 Installation Assistant or the Media Creation Tool), and the Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC), according to the company.
In a Tech Community blog, the company said organizations have full control over how and when devices are upgrade.
“Endpoints managed by Windows Update for Business will not be automatically upgraded to Windows 11 unless an administrator explicitly configures a Target Version via the TargetReleaseVersion setting using a Windows CSP, a feature update profile in Microsoft Intune, or the Select target Feature Update version setting in Group Policy,” Microsoft said in the blog.
The company also said today is the start of the 36-month servicing support lifecycle for Enterprise and Education editions of Windows 11. Meanwhile, Home, Pro, pro for Workstations and Pro for Education versions get 24 months of servicing support. More details on the product lifecycle can be found here.
Read the Tech Community blog for more details on how IT can support a Windows 11 rollout, including baseline security recommendations, minimum system requirements, assessing device readiness across the IT environment and more.
Microsoft also published another blog on Microsoft Endpoint Manager and how the tool can help manage upgrades to Windows 11.
Users can install Windows 11 on devices that don’t meet minimum system requirements, but Microsoft warns that users should expect to run into compatibility issues. Further, those users may not receive updates, including critical security updates.
In yet another company blog on Windows 11, Wagui McKelvey, general manager of Microsoft 365, ran through some features of the new operating system designed to help empower the hybrid workforce, including remembering snap groups across screens to help users move their device around throughout the day.
Other features highlighted by McKelvey include
- More fluid touch, pen and typing
- Support for Universal Print and security and privacy enhancements
- Desktop automation in Microsoft Power Automate to help automate manual and redundant tasks
Specific to IT professionals, McKelvey highlighted the company’s promise of easy deployment, configuration and app compatibility, as well as a number of new security features.
Specifically, McKelvey called Windows 11 a “Zero Trust-ready operating system designed to protect from the chip to the cloud” with verifiable security verifications built-in and turned on by default.”
Read more about the security enhancements in Windows 11 in this Microsoft Windows Security Team blog.