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Empower your hybrid workforce today with Windows 11

We are excited to announce Windows 11 is now generally available. We reimagined Windows 11 to be the operating system for hybrid work.

I encourage you to begin your Windows 11 pilots and upgrades today for all eligible PCs with confidence that Windows 11 is the most productive, most collaborative, and most secure version of Windows ever.

Let me share why I’m so excited for Windows 11, what I’ve been hearing from customers like you over the past few months, and the steps you can take today to get started.

New experiences that work how you work

When we announced Windows 11 in June 2021, I highlighted some of my favorite features of Windows 11 and it creates experiences that work how I work.

I talked about how, like many of you, I often have several windows open throughout the day as I work on documents, presentations, and spreadsheets. 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.

New snap groups improve the way you interact with your open windows.

In hybrid work scenarios, where you’re working is often changing, we made touch, pen, and typing more fluid as well. I love how this video explains some of these new capabilities.

And believe it or not, many of us still have a need to print documents. To help, Universal Print, our cloud print management solution, today also supports Windows 11. From added security and privacy enhancements like the addition of a pin to a print job to the new Print Support Application (PSA) support in Windows that eliminates the need for users to install additional software or custom drivers, Universal Print makes printing easier with Windows 11.

A great new addition is also desktop automation in Microsoft Power Automate, which is now built into Windows 11. Power Automate helps you automate manual and redundant tasks from your Windows desktop. It provides a low-code guided automation experience with built-in actions so that you can automate routine tasks like reporting, data entry, scheduling, and more. Say you are managing a large monthly invoicing process and would like to reduce the time spent manually inputting data and compiling a report. With Power Automate, you can connect to multiple apps and data sources, such as Outlook and Excel, and automate the manual inputs such as mouse clicks, keyboard inputs, and data entry. This is just one example, there are many ways to start automating redundant and mundane tasks without APIs. Learn more about these automation capabilities and how to get started with your automation journey in this Power Automate blog.

Windows 11 desktop showing the Power Automate app

IT: What you can expect from Windows 11

Putting any technology to work for your business starts with IT. Here are four ways we have invested to make you more confident than ever in Windows.

1. An upgrade that feels like an update—and is easy to deploy and manage

Windows 11 is built on the consistent, compatible, and familiar Windows 10 foundation you know—and you remain in control. You’ll plan for, prepare, and deploy Windows 11 just as you do today with Windows 10. Upgrading to Windows 11 is similar to taking a Windows 10 feature update. And you can get started now with Windows Update for Business with eligible devices.

The familiar management experiences you have in place today—like Microsoft Endpoint Manager, cloud configuration, Windows Update for Business, and Windows Autopilot—will support your environment of tomorrow as you integrate Windows 11 into your estate.

In fact, we now have more capabilities in Microsoft Endpoint Manager to help. To help you understand which of your devices are ready for an upgrade, Endpoint Analytics provides the new Windows metric, now in public preview, which helps you measure the number of devices running older versions of Windows. Based on how your devices are managed—Configuration Manager, Intune, or co-managed—you’ll receive remediation steps to upgrade your Windows OS version. Check out the Tech Community blog to learn more.

To help you with the upgrade process, Endpoint Manager enables you to use the same tools and policies you use today. This Tech Community blog provides the steps and things you need to know to upgrade to Windows 11 and manage Windows updates. It includes new capabilities such as Safeguard holds to help make your rollout easier to track, report, and manage. Endpoint Manager also enables you to manage security, apps, and images on your Windows 11 or Windows 10 physical devices and Windows 365 or Azure Virtual Desktop virtual machines simultaneously and consistently.

It’s increasingly important to empower IT with granular level of controls to help deliver amazing endpoint experiences for your workers. We are pleased to introduce additional targeting capabilities in preview with the October release of Microsoft Endpoint Manger. 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.

We’ve also heard from many of you that an annual update works best for you, and a simplified servicing plan makes it easier to deploy. So, Windows 11 will be updated annually with 24 months of support for Home or Pro editions, and 36 months of support for Enterprise and Education editions. You can learn more in John Cable’s blog today.

As you start to deploy Windows 11 in your environment, we will continue to support Windows 10 through 2025. In fact, we will provide Windows 10 21H2 later this calendar year.

2. Backed by our promise of app compatibility

With Windows 11, we continue to stand by our commitment to app compatibility. We offer two crucial services to increase your confidence that your business-critical applications will continue to work on Windows 11.

First, we know that there are a set of applications that are critical to your organization, ones that you’ll want to test against our feature and security updates. Because of this, we’ve launched Test Base for Microsoft 365, an Azure service for app developers and IT professionals that facilitates data-driven testing of applications, enabling them to take advantage of intelligent testing from anywhere in the world. Test Base spins up a secure virtual machine and tests your applications with the latest pre-release and in-market builds of Windows in a Microsoft managed Azure environment enabling you to confidently update your end-user devices. 

We also continue to stand behind our promise that your applications will continue to work on Windows 11 with App Assure, a service that helps customers fix any app compatibility issues they might run into at no additional cost with an eligible subscription. Since launching App Assure in 2018, App Assure has evaluated 837,699 customer apps, and only 3,307 have run into compatibility issues with the latest versions of our products. This represents an application compatibility rate of over 99.6 percent. By addressing the small percentage of compatibility issues that have come up, we have prevented 44 million users from ever running into a potential issue with the apps they rely on every day. We estimate that has helped to save you more than $7.6 billion U.S. in help desk costs because we fixed an issue before it ever impacted your end-users. 

You can learn more about App Assure and Test Base for Microsoft 365 in today’s Tech Community blog.

3. The most secure version of Windows ever

While the acceleration of digital transformation has dramatically improved our ability to be productive while working remotely, it has also introduced new security challenges. New data from a Microsoft commissioned study found that 75 percent of security decision-makers, VP and above, feel that the move to hybrid work leaves their organization more vulnerable to security threats; 80 percent feel that software alone is not enough protection from emerging threats, and nearly 9-in-10 say that outdated hardware leaves organizations more open to attacks and more modern hardware would help protect against future threats.  

As we move into this new era of hybrid work, you need modern security solutions that deliver end-to-end protection from wherever you are. Windows 11 was designed to raise the bar on security out of the box to enable protections like Windows Hello, Device Encryption, virtualization-based security (VBS), hypervisor-protected code integrity (HVCI), and Secure Boot—a combination that has been shown to reduce malware by 60 percent.

Windows 11 is 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. You can learn more in today’s Security blog.  

4. Devices that meet your users’ needs and your budget

We’ve not only innovated in delivering great new experiences with Windows 11 for hybrid work. We’ve innovated in how you can get those experiences with greater power, flexibility, and versatility than ever.

New Windows PCs, 2-in-1s and tablets are available today across wide variety of price points

Powerful new devices give you the native experience of Windows 11 on modern devices of all sizes and price points. We have worked with partners like Acer, ASUS, Dell, HP, Lenovo, Samsung, in addition to our own updated Surface device line-up to provide you with the choice you need to empower your users with great devices.

And note that your peripherals that work with Windows 10 today will work with Windows 11.

Windows 365 Enterprise and Azure Virtual Desktop support Windows 11 on any device

For organizations that want maximum flexibility and control, Azure customers can use Azure Virtual Desktop—our cloud virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) platform—to build and deliver nearly any desktop or app virtualization scenario—with capabilities such as remote app streaming, personalized (single session) or pooled (multi-session) desktops, and integration with Citrix and VMware cloud solutions. With Azure Virtual Desktop, you can customize and fine-tune your deployment to meet your performance, security, compliance, location, or other requirements. Learn about how to deploy ready-made Windows 11 images from Azure Marketplace in today’s Tech Community blog.

You can now also choose to experience Windows 11 in the cloud on any device with Windows 365. Windows 365 draws on the power of the cloud and the capabilities of the device to provide a powerful, simple, and secure full Windows 11 experience that you can use to empower your workforce, regardless of location or device (including Windows, Mac, iPad, Linux, and Android). Built on Azure Virtual Desktop, Windows 365 simplifies the virtualization experience—handling all of the details for you. To learn more about getting Windows 11 on your new or existing Windows 365 Cloud PCs, read today’s Tech Community blog.

Get started today

We are so excited to bring you Windows 11 today, the operating system for hybrid work and learning. Here are the five steps I encourage you to take today:

  1. Begin your pilots today and start to migrate eligible PCs to Windows 11 today with Windows Update for Business.
  2. Refresh hardware with new Windows devices available now.
  3. Embrace both Windows 10 and Windows 11 in your environment.
  4. Start to adopt cloud management in Microsoft Endpoint Manager if you haven’t already, as it unlocks readiness and zero-touch deployment tools like Endpoint Analytics and Autopilot.
  5. Leverage deployment guides and support services like FastTrack to chart your course.

We know this is a journey, and we’re here for you every step of the way.