Microsoft on Monday began releasing Windows 11 as one market after another rolled into Oct. 5, the day it had set as the launch date for the operating system upgrade.
Personal computers running Windows 10 that meet Microsoft’s stricter-than-usual hardware requirements were immediately eligible for the free Windows 11 download. New devices with Windows 11 factory-installed also went on sale. Panos Panay, chief product officer of the Windows + Devices group, wrote in a post to a company blog Monday:
“We’re pumped to be launching Windows 11. The entire user experience brings you closer to what you love, empowers you to produce and inspires you to create.”
Enterprises can use the same tools to manage upgrades to Windows 11 that they currently rely on to service Windows 10, including Intune and Configuration Manager, tools from the Microsoft Endpoint suite; Windows Server Update Services (WSUS); and Windows Update for Business (WUfB). Windows 11 was also released to the bevvy of second-tier sources, including Visual Studio Subscriptions, the Software Download Center and the Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC).
Managed machines will, of course, continue to run Windows 10 for as long as the organization’s IT personnel want. Windows 10 will be supported, Microsoft has pledged, until October 2025. Microsoft said in an online support document:
“Upgrading managed devices to Windows 11 requires explicit approval from an administrator and will not upgrade without this approval when scanning for updates from Windows Update. Enterprise and Education editions will not show Windows 11 as an optional update in Windows settings either, so end users won’t be offered the option to upgrade on their own.”
For commercial customers, Microsoft has posted a wealth of blog posts, guides, and documentation for planning and deploying Windows 11, and has stressed, not surprisingly, that current servicing and maintenance tools will work with the new OS.
Knowing full well that enterprises will initially almost certainly press pause on Windows 11, Microsoft also made a point to tell admins that they could use one set of tools to manage both Windows 10 and 11. David Guyer, a principal program manager, in a post to the Endpoint Manager blog:
“You don’t have to break them out and manage them separately. The experience is mostly the same as any other Windows 10 feature update.”
Likewise, Microsoft extended its app compatibility promise — dubbed “App Assure” — to Windows 11 and said that as of Oct. 5 Windows 11 was available for building virtual machines using the Windows 365 Enterprise service.
A good place for admins to start with Windows 11, even if only for informational purposes and not for actual deployment, is this Windows IT Pro blog post, which summarizes the appropriate servicing tools and also provides links to more in-depth documentation, such as this section of the operating system’s documentation.