Copilot for Microsoft 365 features are now available from Windows 11 desktop

On Windows 11. corporate users with a Copilot for Microsoft 365 license will see that premium experience is now integrated into the Copilot Windows desktop experience.

This means that users who have a Copilot for Microsoft 365 license and Copilot for Windows enabled can chat with Copilot in Windows using Graph-based features.

With a unified experience across M365 Chat, Copilot in Windows 11 and the Copilot on the web experience, users can now leverage the Microsoft Graph connected features in Windows, thanks to the integration of Copilot for Microsoft 365 into the Windows desktop experience.

This experience requires users to have a Copilot for Microsoft 365 license, as well as having Copilot i Windows 11 experience, making it a convenient and consisytent experience for users to access Copilot in Microsoft 365 features, along side the existing options in Teams Chat, Edge, and at https://copilot.microsoft.com.

For comsumer users wanted to leverage the advanced feaures of Copilot in their apps and services like OneNote, Word, PowerPoint and Outlook, checkout Copilot Pro

Windows 11 beta 22624 previews new widgets experience.

Microsoft has released Windows 11 Insider builds ( 22621.1680 and 22624.1680) with fixes and new features. Build 22624.1680 gets fixes and new features whereas 22621.1680 just gets fixes this time round. The full release notes are here.

Evolved Widgets Board

Microsoft say they are starting to revamp the widget board  experience (based on user feedback).

Image showing updated widgets board in Windows 11 beta build 22624

This includes a larger (dynamic) canvas (3-columns if supported by the device) and introduction of new zones to provide quick access to new glanceable widgets from their apps and services. Users will also be able to take a high-value break with their personalised feed which will more personalised and customised that the current version.

Feedback request

As always (and an ask from the Windows Insider community and Dev team is) “please file your feedback” on the new experience using the Feedback Hub (🪟 + F, Desktop Experience, Widgets).

My 5 years as a Microsoft MVP

This week I was delighted to be re-awarded as a Microsoft Most Valued Professional (MVP) for the 5th year running, but what does it mean and why am so thrilled to be rewarded?

What are MVPs?

Microsoft Most Valuable Professionals, or MVPs, are “technology experts who passionately share their knowledge with the community”. They are always on the “bleeding edge” and have an unstoppable urge to get their hands on new, exciting technologies. MVPs have deep knowledge of Microsoft products and services, while also being able to bring together diverse platforms, products and solutions, to solve real world problems. MVPs make up a global community of over 4,000 technical experts and community leaders across 90 countries/regions and are driven by their passion, community spirit, and quest for knowledge. Above all and in addition to this, part of the “role” of the MVPs is our passion and desire to help others. For Microsoft, this is what sets MVPs apart, through formal product feedback, community events, forums, blogs, reviews etc and of course through social channels our mission is to drive awareness, adoption, constructive feedback, ideas and suggestions to help continually improve Microsoft products and services.

What is the MVP Award?

For more than two decades, the Microsoft MVP Award has been Microsofts’ way of saying thank you to community leaders within in their MVP catagory. The contributions MVPs make to the community, ranging from speaking engagements, to social media posts, to writing books, to helping others in online communities, have incredible impact.

As MVPs, we receive a number of technical benefits from Microsoft to help be the best at supporting our passion for technology and innovation. Key benefits to MVPs include early access to Microsoft products, direct communication channels with our product teams and an invitation to the Global MVP Summit, an exclusive annual event hosted in our global HQ in Redmond. They also have a very close relationship with the local Microsoft teams in their area, who are there to support and empower MVPs to address needs and opportunities in the local ecosystem. Other benefits include an executive recognition letter, a Visual Studio technical subscription, and an Office 365 subscription.

The Windows Insider Most Valuable Professional

The Windows Insider Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award recognises people who are passionate about Windows and are positive Windows advocates within their communities. Like other MVPs, we can be found across the globe and are driven by a passion for flighting Insider Preview builds and filing feedback to help improve the current and future generations of Windows, contributing to the technical community through forums, chats with the Windows product team and creating how-to content with the goal of helping others achieve more and making Windows the OS of choice for every person and every organisation.

I have been a Windows Insider for 11 years and seen the development and evolution of Windows 10 and Windows 11 and Windows Insiders are now looking at what comes next after the current release (Windows 11 22H2) release. As new devices and new form factors are being tested, I’m excited by what 2023 and beyond will bring to Windows.

Can I nominate someone to be an MVP?

You can!

If you know someone who is outstanding and passionate around Microsoft technology and think they should be recognised as an MVP, you can nominate them (or yourself) here: https://mvp.microsoft.com/en-us/Nomination/nominate-an-mvp

What I plan to do more of in 2023

As I look forward to 2023, the main topics of interest, content and testing for me that I will explore, showcase and blog will include:

  • Continuing to test, drive and promote some of the awesome accessibly features that span across the Windows 11 OS
  • Tracking and reporting on Windows Insider and production releases, updates, issues and fixes for Windows 11 and Windows vNext
  • Evalusations and reviews of the latest Microsoft hardware such as the Surface devices, accessiblity devices and peripherals building for Windows 11 and Windows 365
  • Dive deeper into Security features across Windows consumer, professional and enterprise editions and into the realms of Windows 365 (Cloud PC) and Microsoft 365
  • Report on my other observations and ruminations on Windows technology, changes and developments and do my best to respond to comments or asks from the community,
  • Increase my contributions to the windows communities and in-person events.

Find out more about the Windows Insider Program

To find out more about the Windows Insider Program and to get involved, visit the following pages.

Should every organisation be considering Windows 365?

Windows 365 has just celebrated its first birthday – but what is it and why is Microsoft betting big on Windows 365 to help improve the employee experience, tighten security, and provide better agility for employees?

Businesses globally are once again being hit head on with challenges unrivalled in recent business history. Employee churn-rates are at record levels presenting unique business challenges, whilst the continuing shift in the workforce from centralised offices to home working has increased the number of “work locations” exponentially. Combined with the on-going global supply chain shortages, and logistical difficulties in procuring, preparing, and shipping new devices to employees makes onboarding new employees more challenging than ever. The continuing need to provide employees with a secure, professional, corporate desktop environment is pressuring IT to make decisions that can impact process, security, governance and above all employee satisfaction.

Microsoft are betting big with Windows 365, since it can help organisations significantly reduce the time it takes to provide new employees with access to their corporate desktop environment from days or weeks to minutes without compromising security. What’s more, unlike traditional on-premises Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) environments, Windows 365 (which is a new category of cloud computing, known as Cloud PC, simplifies the entire provisioning process and user experience.

In conjunction with the Enterprise Security Group, Microsoft recently carried out a TEI study which found that by leveraging Windows 365 Cloud PC, organisations can significantly lower the cost of providing access to an organisation’s end user computing environment whilst improving security and employee satisfaction. The ESG report also revealed that Windows 365 can provide a “typical organisation” with an overall annual benefit of up $7,271 per user for small businesses and up to $6,765 per user for companies with over 1,000 employees.

What is Windows 365?

In short, Windows 365 unlocks a new category of hybrid personal computing, called “Cloud PC” that delivers Windows from the cloud. It aims to provide a hybrid approach to providing client computing by utilising a cloud service that is not tied to any specific hardware.

Image (c) Microsoft

Windows 365 combines the power and security of Windows 10 or Windows 11 with the scalability and versatility of cloud to provide a personal, reliable, and familiar work/desktop environment on any supported physical device. If want to see it in action, you can head over to Microsoft’s YouTube video here.

Similar in concept, but different to VDI technology, Cloud PCs are one of the newest Microsoft cloud solutions to come to market. Cloud PCs are optimised for business and user agility, are highly secure, persistent to the user and are billed on a per-user, per-month model that simplifies the cost and infrastructure complexity of client computing environments and on-premises VDI solutions.

The report by ESG validated that Windows 365 provides capabilities that address nine of the ten business challenges identified by IT leaders.

Source: ESG Complete Survey Results, End-user Computing Trends, February 2022.

SIMPLE, COST EFFECTIVE, POWERFUL, SECURE – Windows 365 works by giving each user a dedicated Cloud PC (of a chosen specification) that runs their own individual Windows 10 or Windows 11 desktop environment while providing an extremely simple-to-manage ecosystem all managed via Microsoft’s Endpoint Manager toolset which is used to manage the rest of the physical desktop or laptop estate. For users, this means they can bring their existing device and instantly be presented with a familiar and powerful end-user computing experience either while they “wait” for their replacement or physical device or instead of waiting for IT to procure, provision, and image a new corporate device. In turn the ESG report finds that Cloud PC technology provides an effective solution for organisations of any size and sector, which are working to meet the complex needs of a hybrid or remote workforce.

Benefits of Windows 365 Cloud PC

Cost Predictability

The ESG report, concludes that Windows 365 delivers a combination of lowered costs, eliminated costs, and a predictable fixed cost model which can provides significant financial benefit in several areas.

  • Lower costs: Shifting to Windows 365 lowers and eliminates costs in several areas, including VDI licensing, server operating systems, remote desktop licensing, storage, management, power and cooling, license management, VDI management, procurement, and end-of-life costs.
  • Fixed-price model: Windows 365 Cloud PC pricing is based on a simple per-user, per-month model which that allows organisations to match computing and storage needs to individual user requirements. There is value in being able to project costs in business. Most VDI pricing models are based on consumption, which, while this may initially seem like an advantage, most organisation often find that their monthly charges extend far beyond projections when usage spikes unexpectedly.
  • Ability to cross-charge services: Organisations that charge internal or external business groups fees for licenses, hardware, or services will find that the Windows 365 predictable cost model makes it much easier to allocate specific costs in a granular and predictable way, especially when compared to the capital-intensive purchases needed to facilitate on-premises VDI or DaaS.

Business and User Agility

With employee churn-rates are at record levels, continuing delays in supply chains and with more employees, contractors and temporary staff being permanently remote, getting new employees up and running as quickly as possible is a big challenge. Windows 365 allows companies to provide highly secure Cloud PCs running Windows 11 on their device within minutes verses hours, days, or weeks.

  • Time to employee enablement: The time from when a new employee, temporary worker, or contractor is hired to when they are fully onboarded with their corporate device often takes time, leads to the employee getting a second-hand device, or means it delays their onboarding time. Leveraging Cloud PC technology can, however, means that organisations can now provide new starters with a new Windows desktop is under an hour, allowing them to security access their work environment from any supported device that the new worker wishes to use, even if it is only a temporary situation.
  • Enablement of temporary/seasonal workers – The cost in both money and time to empower short-term workers with a company work environment is often high, and either inhibits an organisation’s willingness to employ temporary works or worse, means they are forced to compromise on security due to the time to procure and provision a device. With Windows 365, temporary workers can quickly be provisioned so they have immediate access to the corporate environment while safe in the knowledge that all intellectual property stays secured within the corporate environment, and that the Cloud PC can be immediately removed at the end of the contract period.
  • Efficient IT Management – When compared to the effort required in procuring, preparing, and delivering laptops to users or even configuring and deploying virtual desktops with traditional VDI platforms, deployment of Cloud PC technology like Windows 365 can result in a 46% reduction in IT effort.
  • Ability to use any device – Windows 365 allows IT to provide workers with a highly secure, Windows 11 desktop on any supported device even though the host device may not be capable of natively running the OS. This is also great for “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) scenarios for employees who may just be starting or have shifted to working from home or short-term workers such as interns, contractors, and consultants.
  • Increased ability to react quicky to seasonal demand – The ability to get a secure, corporate desktop to users quickly is one of the barriers to rapid enablement. Windows 365 Cloud PCs empower businesses to immediately create and decommission desktops to react to opportunities that might be ignored in other DaaS or VDI environments.
  • Equality with the employees – The mindset of the workforce has changed from “May I have a job?” to an attitude of “What are you willing to do to keep me as an employee?”. Treating all employees as equals and providing them with a premium, professional-grade work environment is two of the key criteria for ensuring employee satisfaction. With Windows 365, employees can access a highly secure, personalized Windows 11 work experience through their Cloud PC, regardless of location or available device.
  • Merger and acquisition (M&A) scenarios – Mergers and acquisition events take months, even years, to align the separate work environments that result in an M&A to the same access and security postures. This limits potential cooperation between the entities and delays the full realization of value for the event. The ability to rapidly assimilate the new entities to the existing EUC solution accelerates the time to value and reduces the cost and risk of running parallel environments. The time to combine these two work environments into one can be significantly reduced by using Windows 365 Cloud PC.

Improved Security Posture

Employees and contractors today are working outside conventional environments and often on hardware that was never intended to be on corporate networks. The result is an increased risk of security breaches and data loss and, in many cases, missed business opportunities. ESG has found that organizations that adopt Windows 365 can help enhance their security posture in the following areas.

  • Inclusive, Secure, yet Flexible remote work – Cloud PCs can enable a hybrid workforce in a highly secure manner, even if those workers sometimes or always do their work on devices that aren’t expected to have direct access to corporate networks. Windows 365 Cloud PCs offer a layer of isolation that provides strong protection for the work environment and helps prevent data leakage or loss, with configurable options for how the Cloud PC interact with available physical device.
  • Business continuity and governance – As we know, COVID-19 forced almost every business to suddenly rethink, re-shift and re-prioritise their approach to remote work in a matter of days – doing all they could to get devices, repurpose old kit, leverage employee’s personal devices and ramp up VDI deployments, VPN and remote access tech to enable their people to work, often at the expense of usability, security and governance. As the future of this now unfolds into the hybrid workplace we see before us, technology like Windows 365 becomes a viable BC/DR solution. In short, Windows 365 could now be a vital cornerstone of a business continuity strategy and one that minimises disruption, maintains security and governance and provides a smooth transition for users.
  • Immediate on-boarding and offboarding of employees/contractors – The cost of PC recovery in the event of an offboarded employee or contractor is high and can take weeks in today’s expanded work environment. Interestingly, IBM estimates that 44% of breach events are caused intentionally by disgruntled employees who have been terminated but still have access to company hardware and resources. One of the benefits of Windows 365 is that as well as near instant provisioning, it also allows for the immediate removal of access to the Cloud PC along with all company data.
  • Protection of company data – the FBI estimate that 1 in 10 laptop devices will be lost or stolen during their lifetime, with the risk and financial exposure per event estimated to be between £25,000 and £45,000. Since Windows 365 Cloud PC devices store no data on the host device, a lost or stolen Cloud PC can be limited to the cost of the hardware and can be instantly accessed on another device, meaning no loss of productivity and no risk or loss or theft or corporate data.

What’s your experience of Windows 365?

As always, I’d love to hear your experiences, thoughts, and feedback on this – please leave a comment in the boxes below.


To read more about Windows 365, you can also check out Microsoft’s official FAQ

Windows 11 Build 22621.169 is rolling out for Release Preview Channel Insiders

After Microsoft released the Windows 11 22H2 update to the Release Preview channel back in June, they have now started to roll out a new cumulative update for Windows Insiders that are running the Windows 11 build 22621 in the Release Preview channel. As you’d expect, this update is mainly focussed on essential bug fixes as we get closer to the formal 22H2 release.

You can visit the official blog site for the full list of changes here.

The major changes / fixes in this build include

  • Fixing the issue which stopped OneDrive working correctly via the file explorer shell
  • Adding support for Transport Layer Security (TLS) 1.3 in the Windows client and server LDAP implementations.
  • Fixed an issue with Edge sandbox mode.

How to Join the Windows Insider programme

For instructions on how to join the Windows Insider Program and join your device to the Release Preview Channel, click here.

Microsoft has created an awesome mashup of the latest Surface and Windows 11 innovations

In recent years, Microsoft has taken a leaf out of Apple Book and is know known for putting together some pretty awesome product launch and general marketing videos for their Surface Lineup and Windows 11.

Whilst we usually only see these things at annual press events and new product launches such as Laptop Studio or Surface Duo, Panos Panay has recently taken to social media and posted a really awesome mashup reveal of the latest innovations across Windows 11 and the Microsoft Surface Products.

Many of my followers will know that I am a huge fan of Surface and also an MVP for #Windows11, but I must admit, this short video even gave me goosebumps since it really does capture the best of what makes Surface devices truly remarkable and innovative (setting the standard for other OEMs). The video also shows some of the latest enhancements within Windows 11 that were annouced formerly in their Future of Work event on the 5th April, where Panos showed off enhancements to things like Fluent icons, the Start Menu, and Windows Hello.

Check it out below!

How Microsoft is making Windows 11 run faster than Windows 10 on the same hardware.

Windows 11 will be the first version of Windows developed under the leadership of Panos Panay.

In final stages of development, tweaks and bug squashes before the official release in October, Microsoft is introducing Windows 11 as the first version of Windows developed for a hybrid work world. Windows 11 will ship with a major UI design overhaul, new start menu, new modern components (though some legacy components still remain) and what is touted to be a much more developer-friendly App Store,

Faster and More efficient

It’s important to also know that there are is also a heap load of important changes under the hood of Windows 11 too.

Microsoft have provided various technical docs along with a new YouTube video from Microsoft Mechanics which detail these various optimisation and performance improvements which you can watch below.

Windows 11 performance improvements

If you watch the video, you will see the Windows Management team explain why and how Windows 11 feels more responsive and faster than Windows 10 on the same hardware due to “a lot of work in memory management to favour the app windows you have running in the foreground so that they’re prioritised with more CPU and other system resources.”.

Unlike Windows 10, Microsoft have ensured that with Windows 11 foreground optimisation now also applies not only to the focus and running apps but also to the Windows shell and open tabs within Microsoft Edge (made possible though Microsoft Edge’s Sleeping Tabs feature).

Microsoft claim that this results in average Memory efficiency gains of 32% and up to 37% for processor usage, which of course therefore equate to faster performance, better mutki taking and more efficient use of battery (longer life).

Microsoft also explains in the video, they have achieved an “almost instantaneous” resume from sleep experience for most Windows 11 users. Microsoft also claim that Windows Hello is now 30% faster also (not that it was slow before).

A word in updates too..

Finally and probably one of the most noticeable things I have found in testing as part of the Windows Insider Programme is that Windows 11 updates are and will be significantly smaller and faster to install.

With the updated Windows Update, the update components only download the necessary files from Microsoft rather than the whole update making updates on average 40% smaller. Thus reducing network bandwidth and increasing update speed. Which is massively noticeable with updates (in testing) taking well under 5 mins.

Read more..

You can read more on this on the Microsoft Tech community here.

Windows 11 release date announced …

Windows 11 logo

Microsoft announced today that Windows 11, will be officially released on October 5, 2021 and will start rolling out to “eligible” Windows 10 devices on that date onwards.

Windows 11 will also come pre-installed on many new devices from Microsoft, Dell, Lenovo, Asus, Samsung etc.

Windows 11 is already available for WindowInsiders and the “beta testing” will continue though to October 5 and then continue for the next batch of feature releases as it did with Windows 10.

Windows 11 start menu

Windows 11 requirements

Whilst Microsoft annouced last week that some select 7th gen Intel chipsets (like Surface Studio 2) will support Windows 11, in most cases the core system requirements include:

  • ‘modern’ 64bit dual-core or higher CPU
  • 4GB of RAM (but 8GB ideally)
  • 64GB storage (SSD ideally)
  • DirectX12 supported GPU
  • Secure Boot
  • TPM 2.0 chip (enabled) in UEFI settings

Phased Rollout

As usual with Windows updates and upgrades the  Windows 11 upgrade will roll out gradually to devices that meet the minimum requirements for Windows PCs and say their upgrade system will use “intelligence algorithms” to make it available on more devices over time. “We expect all eligible devices to be offered the free upgrade to Windows 11 by mid-2022,” Microsoft said in the annoucement.

Interestly, Microsoft said last week that users will be able to use Windows 11 ISOs to manually install Windows 11 on unsupported PC though there is a caveat in that Microsoft are not committed to service these devices via Windows Update, and that includes security updates.

One thing to note is that Android app support, a feature announced during the Windows 11 unveiling event, won’t be shipping this year but will start testing with Windows Insiders soon.

What about Windows 10 support

For devices not capable of running Windows 11, or for users/organisation not ready to move to Windows 11, Windows 10 will still be supported through to 2025.

Read more about Windows 11

You can read more about the new and upcoming features in my previous blogs or on the official Microsoft Blog

Microsoft launches Windows 11 Innovation Portal

This week (end of July 21), Microsoft made Windows 11 available to #WindowsInsiders in the BETA channel (it’s been available for a month now in the DEV channel).

To help Insiders (and the general consumer and corporate) understand exactly what did and is going into the development of Windows 11, Microsoft have put together a informative “Windows 11 Innovation Portal”

What’s inside?

The portal has a collection of videos from various key Windows 11 developers, marketing managers and Panos Panay himself which look at how general product feedback from users and #WindowsInsiders have helped and will continue to help shape Windows 11.

Windows 11 Insider portal

Other videos in the collection focus on the extensive ways in Windows11’s accessibility features have been designed and there’s then a section of info and videos that introduce some of the newly designed and AI fueled features such as the new start menu, touch keyboard, voice typing, snap view and new “tablet posture”.

So.. If you want to know more (before during or after you’ve installed Windows11) check it out now and let me (and other #WindowsInsiders) know what you think.

What’s Windows 11 really about then?

Windows 11

Windows 11 is new – in this blog I look into some of the reasons why we have a Windows 11 and not simply another update to Windows 10!

In summary, I think Windows 11 is about three main things which I will discuss below…

  • Taking advantage of the huge surge in demand in hardware. 
  • A new modern and fresh visual UI
  • The ability to considerably secure and protect users (not just corporates either)

Wasn’t Windows 10 supposed to be the last version of Windows?

That’s what we all thought, since when Microsoft released Windows 10, Jerry Nixen (a former senior technical evangelist at Microsoft) had said “Right now we’re releasing Windows 10, and because Windows 10 is the last version of Windows, we’re all still working on Windows 10“. This, however, was never really the official line by “THE MICROSOFT”, and was more of a throwaway comment but one that people seem to have remembered (including me!!). Anyway, there is a Windows 11 coming. Period.

To answer the “why”, during the official announcement of Windows 11,  Panos Panay said that “You have to step back and consider what’s most important for people right now, and so much has changed over the last 18 months. A lot of the time spent over the last 18 months [within Microsoft] was looking at Windows and what it means to be for what’s next [with hybrid work].”

But why Windows 11 and not Windows 10 2022H1?

The PC started to move from fitting into people’s lives to shifting our lives to fit into the PC,” said Panos Panay at the announcement of Windows 11 back in June.

Six years after launch, the vast majority of the Windows world is now (finally) running Windows 10. With the surge (ok, like, everyone) suddenly working from home combined with the increase in security threats from phishing and ransomware also combined with the first significant PC growth spurt in more than a decade, Microsoft clearly saw a big reason (and opportunity) to re-invent Windows in a year which has reportedly seen a 75% year-over-year increase in the time people “spent” in Windows.

Canlays Report - PC Shipments 2020

According to Canlays, “the PC market is expected to remain strong through at least the end of the year and into 2022″ as hybrid working seems set to stay and requires (in most cases) mobile computing which typically have a “refresh” cycle of 3 years (4 at a push). Any Windows upgrade cycle (new version) that Microsoft launch risks causing demand issues (especially with the current silicon shortages), but at the same time, the fact that demand is strong and people are upgrading presents an immediate opportunity.

What’s more important (if you push the marketing and commercial aspect to one side for a moment) is that the devices people are upgrading to, typically support more advanced and modern security standards than the 4 year old devices they are typically replacing!

In short, I think Windows 11 is about three main things

  • A new modern and fresh visual UI 
  • The ability to considerably secure and protect users (not just corporates either)
  • Taking advantage of the on-going demand for PCs/laptops.

 

The new Flashy UI

There is no doubting that the UI in Windows 11 looks different (yet also very familiar). There are a also bunch of new features in the first initial build (with loads more coming in later builds) – you need to bear in mind that there is still at least 5 months of development and refinement to go before Windows 11 is officially launched).

Windows 11 Desktop

Many of the new features have been shaped around the changing ways in which people have learned, worked and played during the pandemic. As an example,

  • Universal mute – a new mute button is now present on the taskbar which essentially mutes every app in Windows 11 except your UC app (by that they mean Microsoft Teams), to prevent those embarrassing microphone moments.
  • Leave my apps where there were mode (ok it’s not officially called that), but Microsoft in Windows 11 finally leaves your apps on the screen you left them when using multiple monitors. In Windows 10, apps are rearranged or moved to single screen when you disconnect or reconnect a monitor. To be honest though – they could have easily (and still could fix this in Windows 10 21H2)

There’s lots more to the UI and reasons why some of the changes (like the centred start menu) are where they are – you can read/watch more about this here

Security, Security, Security

Outside of the cosmetics (which are of course important as it’s what we interface on a daily basis), Microsoft (who by the way invest over $1B in security R&D each year) want to push the market forward to adopt the much needed new security standards. Setting minimum standards around security (rather than just RAM and Processor speed) is of course a good way to this. Again – they didn’t really need a new “version” to do this – after all, Windows 11 is “built” on Windows 10, so with notice and planning they “could” have still achieved the same result in my book, but this way they can continue with Windows 10 (bear in mind that Windows 10 will be supported until at least 2025) but use Windows 11 as the driving force to improve security – something their commercial customers will likely not want to ignore.

Secure from Chip to Cloud with Windows 11

Microsoft have been talking about Security from Chip to Cloud with Surface and Windows 10 for about a year now and given the huge demand for new PCs/Laptops, Microsoft should be able to drive a quicker shift towards better security standards. Microsoft sees hardware as a currently security flaw (in many cases) which is why there will be emphasis and requirement on TPM 2.0 for Windows 11 which has been standard in Microsoft Surface for several generations now but has not been a Windows requirement…..until now!

So what is TPM anyway? TPM stands for Trusted Platform Module and even though this technology has existed in new PCs for some years, its only really Microsoft that have talked about extensively. Since TPM 2.0 will be requirement for Windows 11, we will heard a lot more about it from PC manufacturers with Windows 11 certified hardware.

In a recent security blog post from Microsoft’s director of enterprise and Operating Security, they explain in detail the importance of TPM 2.0, along with some other security benefits of Windows 11.

TPM is a chip that’s integrated into a main motherboard on a PC or Laptop and is designed to helps protect sensitive data, user credentials, and encryption keys as well as protect these devices from malware and ransomware attacks, which are becoming ever more common. This, combined with the ransomware protection features built into Windows 11 (and Windows 10) known as “Controlled folder access” will go along way to further protect users and organisation against cyber crime.

TPM 2.0 is a “critical building block for providing security with Windows Hello and BitLocker to help customers better protect their identities and data,” Microsoft explains in their blog.

In addition to the TPM requirements, Windows 11 also provides new built-in security features including:-

  • Microsoft Azure Attestation, which can enforce Zero Trust policies with supported mobile device management tools like Intune
  • Support for virtualization-based security, hypervisor-protected code integrity,
  • Secure Boot built-in, and hardware-enforce stack protection for supported hardware from both Intel and AMD.

Become a Windows Insider and test Windows 11 today

People always ask me “how you download it or get a dodgy build like the one that leaked a few weeks ago”. Its actually really simple and legal to get Windows 11  – but to do so you (or your organisation) need to be enrolled in the Windows Insider Programme. I’ve been a Windows Insider for 6 years now and it’s been a great journey to be (or at least feel) part of the on-going development of Windows moving forward.

I’ve written about what it means to be a Windows Insider before, but you can check out the Real Inside story of Windows 11 here.

Watch to learn more about the key design & security concepts of Windows 11

Windows 11 - secure from chip to cloud:
https://www.microsoft.com/security/blog/2021/06/25/windows-11-enables-security-by-design-from-the-chip-to-the-cloud
 
Meet the Windows 11 Maker(s) story:
https://insider.windows.com/en-us/insidewindows11/video/meet-charles-inspiring-inclusivity
Windows 11 Start - "Centred around you":
https://insider.windows.com/en-us/insidewindows11/video/start-is-centered-around-you
The Windows 11 Design story:
https://insider.windows.com/en-us/insidewindows11/video/new-look-new-feel

Windows 11. A fuss about nothing? Not at all!

Windows 11 logo

So last week, Microsoft officially unveiled the “Next generation on Windows” with #Windows11 and 4 days later the first #WindowsInsider build (yes its rough around the edges still) made its way to insiders. I’ve only been using it a day but I can tell you…
It’s NOT a fuss about nothing. It’s a big and welcome change”.

What’s the big deal?

Well, It’s been 6 years since #Windows10 launched and it’s been updated roughly twice a year since launch which has included the gradual (they are still working on it) phase out of the remaining legacy features and components left over from #Windows7. Truth be told, much of the reason for these legacy remains have been necessary to support older legacy applications that still today exist across many industries..

Windows 10 is  the world’s most widely used PC operating system with over 1.4 Billion devices using it (yes there is “still Windows 7 and XP out there)!

Windows 11, (which will release later this year) promoses a fresh new design and many newly designed features design to address the new needs of work, education and productivity and creativity…. and was described by Panos Panay, Microsoft’s Chief Product Officer as “the Windows that brings you closer to the things you love“. So what new features can we expect?

So. What’s new?

Secure from Chip to Cloud

A lot has changed and lots for will be coming as the operating system develops and matures before it’s expected launch in Autumn this year.

One of the core things you may have heard in the press is about the significant system requirements needed to run Windows11. Much of this is around requiring the use of modern processors and in particular modern security in the form of TPM 2.0.

TPM stands for Trusted Platform Module. Even though TPM 2.0 has been in new PCs for years, it’s a technology that many hadn’t heard of until this week.

Whilst I’m not going to dive into this here, (you can) a new security blog post from Microsoft’s director of enterprise and Operating System Security, David Weston, explains the importance of TPM 2.0. Security is big in #Windows11 and is a major step towards any organisation achieving zero trust security policy. Read the blog above to learn more..

Evolved, redesigned but ever “familiar” design

The main change from Windows 10 to a Windows 11 is a new refreshed and completed updated user interface which has rounded “fresh looking” corners, new modern desktop wallpapers, pastel colours, a centred Start menu and Taskbar and more adaptive experience complete with modern style widgets which essentially replace the “live tiles”.

The UI feels very modern and dare I say a bit “mac-like” and is very comparable to what we saw with early concepts of what  Windows 10X was going to look like…..but what else is new? If you haven’t see it yet (where have you been), then check out the “sizzle” video below.

  • Increased performance. Windows 11 promises more performance whilst browsing the internet with Microsoft Edge and major updates (which will be once a year) will also be nearly 1/2nthe size of Windows 10s.
  • Snap Layouts” make multi-tasking and the transition from single screen to multi screen much easier without need to remember keyboard shortcuts or use third party apps. With snap layouts users can create “collections” of the apps you are using which can sit in “groups” in the Taskbar. These can then be and can maximised or minimised together allowing you to switch between tasks and apps quicker. This comes into its own if you use multiple displays or use your laptop/Surface connected to a monitor since it ensures that the apps always open on your preferred screen.
  • Android Apps are coming to Windows through a new ’emulator’ and will available from the Amazon Appstore.
  • New App Store. The new revamped store promises to be faster and will be the “the safest and most secure way for you to get your apps on Windows.”
  • Widgets replace LiveTiles. Familiar to a modern mobile experience, widgets can be accessed directly from the Taskbar and uses AI to provide a personalised and contextualised experience and content. This builds/replaces the recent “news bar” in Windows 10 Build 21H1
  • Microsoft Teams will be (its not in the first build) integrated directly into the Taskbar. This replaces Skype (in Windows 10) and enables users to initiate calls and meetings as well as mute yourself. This will come when the new redesigned Teams client is available later this year.
  • Xbox “built in”. Well, sort of! Xbox is a big part of Microsoft so it’s unsurprising that enhanced gaming experiences such as cloud streaming, Auto HDR and Direct Storage which are all found in Xbox are coming to gaming PCs to improve gaming on PC.

How can I get it now?

The official Windows 11 upgrade will begin rolling out to all new and compatible devices in late 2021 (most likely November time) – but if you want to try an early version, provide feedback and test new features as they are being developed, you can join the Windows Insider Program.