Enterprise Guide to Windows 10: Pricing, Security, New Features and More

Windows 10 Logo
Windows 10 could possibly be the most important product launch in Microsoft history. Microsoft itself has suggested that Windows 10 may be the last version of Windows, indicating that future releases may be delivered "as a service," with ongoing updates.

Whatever the future brings, much is riding on whether users take advantage of the free Windows 10 upgrade available July 29. Among the reasons to do so? A consistent look-and-feel across devices; advanced, multi-layered security, and a new browser that enables one to markup pages. And an opportunity to get to know Cortana. 

To help our enterprise customers better understand what Windows 10 will bring, we've compiled this comprehensive FAQ. 

Q.  How much will Windows 10 cost?

A.  Enterprise customers with active Software Assurance (SA) and Virtual Desktop Access (VDA) licenses can upgrade to Windows 10 enterprise offerings. But there will be a price increase from current per-license prices on Windows SA and VDA SKUs, taking effect on August 1, 2015. This is due to the inclusion of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP). Previously, MDOP was available as an optional add-on.

For individual users, Windows 10 will be available as a free update until July 29, 2016, for all users with official Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 licenses. Users building their own PCs who don't have a previous Windows license will have to pay for a fresh copy of Windows 10. Windows 10 Pro will cost $199 and Windows 10 Home will cost $119.

Q. What other licensing/pricing changes is Microsoft making in conjunction with the launch of Windows 10?

A. In today’s cloud-first, mobile-first world, Microsoft is looking for ways to address pressing challenges such as security and ease of manageability through their enterprise solutions. They’re also looking for more flexible ways for clients to purchase these solutions as they transition to the cloud. In addition, Microsoft has announced the following changes to its CAL and management suite licenses:

  • Enterprise Client Access License Suite & Enterprise Mobility Suite - ATA rights will be included in the Enterprise CAL Suite (ECAL), Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS) and Enterprise Cloud Suite (ECS) beginning August 1, 2015. Existing ECAL and EMS Licenses with active Software Assurance as of August 1, 2015 will automatically include ATA rights. ECS will get enhanced IT manageability, as it will include the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) as part of Windows Software Assurance from August 1, 2015.
  • Bridge CALs - Microsoft is simplifying Bridge CAL licenses to make it easier for customers to transition to the cloud from on-premises CALs. Bridge CALs will only be available as a subscription, on a per user basis from August 1, 2015. ATA rights will be included in the ECAL Bridge for Office 365 beginning August 1, 2015. Existing ECAL Bridge for Office 365 licenses with active Software Assurance as of August 1, 2015 will automatically include ATA rights.
  • User CAL Pricing Change - In conjunction with the above there will be 13% increase in user CAL prices. Microsoft announced this in November, 2014. This user CAL adjustment is attributed to the increase in value of per user licensing due to device growth trends. Microsoft continues to invest in supporting multi-device, cross-platform productivity scenarios that increase the number of ways users’ access on-premises servers licensed with CAL Suites.  Customers will continue to have the option to license CAL Suites with the choice of per-user or per-device, and device CALs will see no change in pricing.

Q. How many editions of Windows 10 will there be?

A. There will be three editions of Windows 10 available through the Microsoft Volume Licensing channel. They include:

  • Windows 10 Pro: Designed for small and medium businesses. It enables organizations to manage their devices and apps, protect their business data, facilitate remote and mobile scenarios, as well as take advantage of cloud technologies for their organizations.  Windows 10 Pro will come preinstalled on new devices, and is available in volume licensing as an upgrade license.
  • Windows 10 Enterprise: Builds on Windows 10 Pro by adding more advanced features designed to address the needs of large and midsize organizations. This includes advanced protection against sophisticated security threats, the broadest range of options for OS deployment, updates, and comprehensive device and app management. Windows 10 Enterprise will be available exclusively through volume licensing.
  • Windows 10 Education: Builds on Windows 10 Enterprise. Windows 10 Education includes features that address the advanced security and comprehensive device control and management needs of today’s educational institutions. It is built to simplify deployment in the education space, providing a direct path for many devices to upgrade from Windows 10 Home or Windows 10 Pro to Windows 10 Education, without the need to wipe out and reload the OS.

In addition, Windows 10 Mobile, designed for smartphone and tablet users, will come later in 2015. The Windows 10 Mobile Enterprise volume-licensing SKU will be available in 2016. 

Most consumers will be getting Windows 10 Home, available July 29.

Q. Will current Windows desktop programs work with Windows 10?

A. Virtually all desktop programs that run on Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 will work with Windows 10. Some types of low-level system utilities, including backup tools and antivirus software, may require updates from the developer. Check with the software developer if you are concerned about whether they plan to support Windows 10.

Todd Pekats, CompuCom’s Microsoft Solutions Director, recommends that you plan ahead to test to ensure that your core applications work as expected. He doesn’t expect Windows 10 to present a challenge, but stills recommend caution in migrating applications and programs to a new operating system.

Q. What are the key new features in Windows 10?

A. There are a number of compelling new features in Windows 10. Top ones for enterprise clients include:

  • A consistent experience across all devices: With Continuum, the Windows 10 user interface adapts to the device you are using, whether it’s a desktop PC, touchscreen device or mobile phone. For example, if you are using a Windows tablet minus a keyboard, it will default to a touch-friendly mode, with the Start menu expanding to the full screen; if you’re using a PC, it will default to a traditional desktop mode. For hybrids, it will intelligently switch between the two modes depending on whether you have a keyboard attached. If you need to force a switch, Windows 10’s new Action Center has a dedicated Tablet Mode button that you can enable or disable. Also, with Windows 10, you can connect your Windows Phone to a monitor for a larger “second screen.” Simply plug the phone into a docking station to project to a monitor via cable or wireless.
  • The return of the Start menu: The Start menu, absent in Windows 8, is back in Windows 10. 
  • Universal applications: With Windows 10, applications developed for Windows Phone are available for the Windows desktop, and vice versa. So a developer can build something once and have it proliferate on a number of devices — desktops, tablets, mobile phones, even the new HoloLens.
  • Multiple desktops: You can now have your business apps and data on one desktop, and your personal apps and data on another — both organized how you like them — and seamlessly switch back and forth between the two. The data on each desktop is isolated and encrypted.
  • The new Edge browser: Formerly known as Project Spartan, the new Edge browser is built from the ground up and lighter, faster, and quicker for trawling the modern web. There are now digital inking tools that enable you to highlight and annotate web pages to share with others, plus a clutter-stripping Reading View.
  • Cortana: The clever personal assistant for Windows Phone is now in Windows 10. Cortana can get you directions, provide the weather forecast, set reminders, find files, search the Internet, even tell jokes.

Q. What about the security features in Windows 10?

A. Because Windows 10 will be run a variety of devices — PCs, tablets, hybrids, smartphones and even the new HoloLens (coming later) — it is at risk to a wider number of vulnerabilities. Microsoft has developed layers of advanced security features to help safeguard both the software and hardware from malware attacks and other threats.

Microsoft Passport helps protect user identities and user credentials. It also helps circumvent phishing and brute force attacks, and helps prevent server breaches. It also works with Windows Hello to provide a strong, two-factor authentication that limits access to protected resources and services to only authorized users.

With Windows Hello, biometrics (facial characteristics, iris or fingerprints) identify users — eliminating the need for passwords. Infrared cameras or dual cameras with 3D imaging make spoofing identities extremely difficult. However, those who prefer to continue to use passwords can do so.

Windows 10 also includes Virtual Secure Mode, a new Hyper-V component designed to protect the system against malware, zero-day attacks and other serious security threats. Virtual Secure Mode (VSM) is a protected virtual machine that is separated from the Windows 10 OS (& kernel). This architecture protects the VSM even if the Windows 10 OS kernel is compromised, since the kernel doesn’t have direct access to VSM.

The new operating system has beefed-up protection against hardware threats with tools such as Secure Boot, Device Guard, Device Health, and Windows Defender. And Microsoft pledges to stay on top of the latest security threats with a stream of updates through its Windows Update for Business service. 

Q. Will Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager support Windows 10?

A. Microsoft announced in May 2015 that System Center Configuration Manager 2012 and 2012 R2 would provide full support for client deployment, upgrade and management of Windows 10. In addition, with a compatibility pack, System Center Configuration Manager 2007 SP2, R2 and R3 will all support the management of Windows 10, though not the OS and client deployment.

Q. What are the minimum specs a PC needs to run Windows 10?

A. If a PC can run Windows 8.1, it can run Windows 10. But just in case, here are minimum specs a PC will need for Windows 10:

  • 1GHz processor (or faster)
  • 1GB of RAM (32-bit) and 2GB (64-bit)
  • 16GB of internal free internal storage
  • Microsoft DirectX 9 graphics with WDDM driver
  • Microsoft account and Internet access

Q.  How do you get the Windows 10 update?

A.  Microsoft anticipates a huge number of downloads on July 29, so there will be a queue. For individuals to be notified when your free Windows 10 upgrade is available, download and install the Get Windows 10 App to reserve your slot.

Q. How long will the Windows 10 update process take?

A. According to Microsoft's official Windows 10 FAQ, the update process will take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour.

Q. What about Windows 10 on a smartphone?

A. Windows 10 for smartphones and tablets is called Windows 10 Mobile and it will be available later this year.

Looking for more information?
CompuCom can help your enterprise develop a strong Windows 10 test program. Check out our End-User Enablement Services. CompuCom was recently named as a leader in Gartner Magic Quadrant™ for End-User Outsourcing in North AmericaContact Us for more information.


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