Windows AutoPilot

How to Streamline the Device Setup

Get Comfortable with Microsoft Windows AutoPilot

The modern way of preparing Windows 10 devices for use: Whereas traditional ICT environments often use a Windows Image Deployment installation, which takes a great deal of time for testing and updating, Windows AutoPilot has recently become available and offers a new possibility for the full and automatic management of Windows 10 devices. Here, I explain how Windows AutoPilot works and what the most important steps in its implementation are.

Up until now, Windows Image Deployment fully adapted a Windows installation to an organization’s needs, for example all associated applications and settings. However, updating and testing phases are rather intense, since you have to update the Image every time there is a general new Windows update. With Microsoft Windows 10, operating systems are now designed for ease of management via a Unified Endpoint Management (UEM) solution such as Microsoft Enterprise Mobility + Security (EM+S), which includes Microsoft Azure AD Premium and Microsoft Intune for example. This allows management via the Cloud, as a result of which the device’s location is no longer relevant for its management.

How does AutoPilot work?

Windows AutoPilot now makes Windows 10 devices fully and automatically manageable. If it is also linked to a Unified Endpoint Management (UEM) solution, such as Microsoft Intune, then the device can also be configured with all required settings and applications automatically. Every time a Windows 10 device is switched on for the first time after it has been shipped from the supplier, or after a fresh (re-)installation, Windows 10 checks whether this device is registered with the Windows AutoPilot Deployment Service. If this is the case, then it screens which company the relevant device is registered to and which profile is linked to it. This allows automatic configuration of the last phase of the Windows 10 setup. All of the preferences that a user normally has to set are configured automatically in such a profile. This is done in such a way that the end user only needs to login using his or her e-mail address and password, after which the rest is done automatically, and the end user only has to wait until the configuration is complete.

How do I set up AutoPilot?

The devices must first be registered with the Windows AutoPilot Deployment Service. This can be done manually for devices that are already owned by the company, however suppliers can also help with this. Hardware suppliers that already support Windows AutoPilot include: Dell, HP, Lenovo, Microsoft Surface and Toshiba. In addition, various other suppliers have indicated that they will also be supporting it within the next few months. These suppliers are able to link the devices directly within the correct Azure tenant or they can provide a file which contains the correct information for single-step, self-deployment.

The second step consists of configuring and linking a profile. Amongst other things, this profile specifies the rights that can be assigned to the end user. The standard Windows 10 setup questions are also completed for the end user and are therefore no longer visible to that user.
The ICT Department no longer has to concern itself with this configuration because all steps are automated in advance by the linked profile. In principle, the device can be shipped to the end user directly, without the intervention of the ICT Department.

As soon as the end user un-boxes the device and switches it on, he/she will be asked to enter the login details. After the login details have been entered the device performs an automatic background registration in the correct Azure tenant and Unified Endpoint Management solution. As soon as the last step has been completed, the policy and the applications the user requires are installed on the device automatically. The user is kept properly informed about progress via the “Enrollment Status” page. The device is ready to use after just a few minutes!

Traditional deployment
Windows AutoPilot Deployment Service

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Robin Hobo

Consultant Mobility

Enterprise Mobility Management + Security, Digital Workplace

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