Windows 10 update delayed, but enterprise features are coming

No waiting around for a year before we get an update, Microsoft is bringing constant improvements and additions.

Windows 10 update enterprise features
Credit: Mark Hachman

The flurry of activity around Windows 10 post-launch is astounding. I can't recall this much work being done immediately after release for any previous operating systems in the Internet era.

I qualify it with the Internet era because I remember the days when updates were largely shipped on a CD-ROM. With the ubiquity of the Internet in 2015, the vast majority of people received Windows 10 via digital download, not physical media.

In addition to regular patches, Microsoft has two updates in the works, codename Redstone and codename Threshold 2. "Threshold" was the original codename for Windows 10. Threshold 2 was originally supposed to launch sometime in October, but now that seems to have been pushed back to November, according to the site WinBeta.

Microsoft is reportedly referring to Threshold 2 as "Windows 10 Update for November" or "Windows 10 November Update" internally and with close partners. It's believed to be the first update to Windows 10 that adds new functionality, since up til now it's been all bug fixes. 

Edge will get a boost out of this update. Microsoft plans to add support for Chrome extensions with this fix, and the company recently announced it is joining the open-source Alliance for Open Media and plans to integrate WebM and VP9 into Edge. WebM is an open-source video file format that is light years beyond animated GIF in that it supports longer video – up to two minutes – high-resolution and audio, something animated GIF could never do. VP9 is WebM's video codec.

Redstone is a major update to Windows 10 and is not expected until next year, so details are scarce besides the fact that it will be a big feature update and not just bug fixes.

In other news, Windows 10 is finally getting some enterprise support. This was announced with the Dell deal but somewhat lost in the news cycle, so it bears repeating. Windows 10 has been a hit with consumers, no question. Microsoft said the installed base has already surpassed 75 million in one month.

Steam analytics are stats gathered by the Steam system app, an iTunes-like app from Valve Software. Steam is an online store that sells a very large number of PC games, both from major publishers (except Electronic Arts) and indies alike. Since it's installed on millions of machines, Valve gathers data on its users and publishes numbers every month, and it paints a pretty good picture of OS market share among a large user base.

Windows 10 rolled out on July 29, and in one month it soared to the number three position among operating systems, with 16% of the Steam user base. Only Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 have larger installed bases, and their numbers are dropping, clearly at the gain of Windows 10.

For the enterprise, things are going a little slower. In August, Microsoft said there had been just 1.5 million installs of Windows 10 Enterprise in the first month of its launch. That's not surprising. Enterprise users traditionally don't upgrade their existing hardware, they buy new hardware with a new OS on it. 

But now they will have a little more enticement. Windows Insiders are currently testing three new features for enterprises customers: Microsoft Passport, Enterprise Data Protection (EDP), and a Windows Store for Business.

Microsoft Passport for enterprise users will offer secure log in to apps, networks, and websites without requiring a password. The admin will be able to authenticate websites, servers, and apps directly for the user.

The Enterprise Data Protection feature will protect both corporate and personal data. EDP enables the encryption of data stored on devices and, therefore, only apps that have the privilege to access the data may do so. This is designed for BYOD scenarios, as only authorized devices can access data, and enterprise data can be erased remotely without affecting personal data on the device.

Finally, the Windows Store for Business will basically serve as a Windows Store for IT, where device managers can purchase business apps in bulk for all or a select portion of employee devices. Employees who are authorized will also be able to buy third-party apps. 

These will be on the Dell devices, as announced, but will be broadly available as well when they finally roll out.

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