Some things are meant to go together, like cake and ice cream. Or chili and hot dogs. Or peanut butter and jelly. In the same vein, Intel IT has found that the combination of Microsoft Windows* 10 and the latest generation of Intel® Core™ vPro™ processors provides a modern, cutting-edge user experience to Intel’s workforce.
As described in our recent IT@Intel paper, “Advancing the User Experience with Intel® Architecture-based Laptops and Microsoft Windows* 10,” we are converging on a single enterprise Windows OS through our two-to-four-year PC refresh cycle and in-place, self-service upgrades. To date, we have over 50,000 devices on Windows 10. The majority of these are new systems based on 6th Generation Intel Core vPro processors. We are now qualifying 7th Generation Intel Core vPro processor-based systems with Windows 10 and we will begin deployment in Q2’17. We anticipate upgrading another 20,000 PCs to Windows 10 by the end of the year through our PC refresh process and we will upgrade our existing Windows 10 systems through our self-upgrade process.
According to user surveys and pilot projects that we recently conducted, deploying Windows 10 on 7th Generation Intel Core vPro processor-based systems has been the most successful and well-adopted “new product introduction” that we have ever performed. Part of the platform’s deployment success is due to the synergy between the Windows software capabilities and Intel® hardware that has the performance to support those capabilities:
- Graphics performance. Windows 10 provides support for 4K displays, built-in Intel® Iris™ Pro graphics technology, protected audio, and High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC).
- Battery life. Windows 10 takes advantage of Intel® Speed Shift technology, which works in tandem with Windows 10’s new Disconnected Standby to improve battery life and promote sleek form factors.
- Personalized experience. Because it supports the use of voice and biometrics, Windows 10 creates a more personalized computing experience.
- Multiple device support. Windows 10 uses Intel® wireless technologies, USB 3.1 Type-C ports, and Thunderbolt™ 3 technology to enable scalability across multiple devices including desktop PCs, Ultrabook™ devices, 2-in-1s, and tablets. For example, employees will be able to charge their PC, use two 4K displays, boost the power of the PC with an external graphics card, and connect several high-speed USB devices all at the same time.
Another reason users have embraced Windows 10 on the latest Intel® architecture is the availability of simple self-service upgrades. As we have all experienced, upgrading your PC to a new version of Windows could take up to a half a day or more. But with Windows 10, users can do an in-place, self-service upgrade in 60-90 minutes, even if they are not at the office. As one user commented, “I was able to kick back and relax at home while the system upgraded itself - BEST PROCESS IMPROVEMENT EVER!”
In essence, Windows 10 plus the latest generation of Intel architecture is popular because it gives people what they want.
Achieving the success we’ve experienced with Windows 10 and the OS-as-a-service delivery model has required a significant organizational change for Intel IT. Shifting an entire organization from an every-few-years update model to updates twice a year is not a trivial task. My team has found that close coordination and communication with all the necessary stakeholders is crucial to avoiding surprises and setbacks. In particular, we have found that ecosystem alignment is critical. A continuous lifecycle management approach, with platform components and partners being ready across the application stack, is the path to success.
For example, the IT security team, core application owners, and the network team must modify their processes to commit to and accommodate the new OS as a service. Application testing must now occur on a continual basis, so we are shifting to a risk-based sampling method for a lighter-touch and more frequent testing cadence. The security team must verify that their client-build components are up-to-date and ready for the next release from Microsoft. The same goes for universal printer drivers, the enterprise resource management (ERM) system, and so on. Everything must line up like gears in a watch, with a calibrated timeline and a predictable cadence.
Having established this tempo, backed up by cross-functional teamwork, we can now commit to sustaining Windows 10 upgrades to more than 50,000 machines with a down-the-wire solution – something that we have never done before.
For more information about Intel IT’s deployment of Windows 10, read the IT@Intel White Paper, “Advancing the User Experience with Intel® Architecture-based Laptops and Microsoft Windows* 10.”