Microsoft 365: What is Windows Autopilot?

Microsoft offers many services to help businesses modernize their IT infrastructures, such as Microsoft 365 for e-mail and Azure for hosted infrastructure. Adoption of these services is rapidly growing, allowing IT departments to offload many of their mundane maintenance tasks that they previously faced when dealing with on-premises counterparts. Windows Autopilot is the next cloud-based technology that Microsoft wants to see you adopt to simplify the Windows device lifecycle.

Traditionally, the preparation of a PC for deployment to a new user can be a very time-consuming process for IT staff. Whether it is done manually, semi-automated with scripting, or fully automated with imaging, there still needs to be hands-on at some point throughout the process. When it comes to the use of imaging technology, one of the most hands-off solutions, time is still needed to maintain those images.

In comes Windows Autopilot, designed to take a tedious process and turn it into a fully automated, and user-friendly approach. After some initial configuration, you will be able to hand a PC to an employee, or dropship one directly to remote staff, provide them their user credentials, and let Autopilot handle the rest.

Designed to reduce the time IT spends on deploying, managing, and retiring devices, Autopilot aims to reduce the infrastructure required to maintain devices and improve ease of use for end users. It can be used to set up and pre-configure new devices as well as reset and repurpose existing devices. A bonus is its ability to ease the nuclear option when troubleshooting, by automating the wipe and rebuild of a PC when that is the final option to resolve a software issue.

Autopilot Benefits

Microsoft provides a list of scenarios for Autopilot and how it can benefit your organization. I’ve recapped some of these below and added additional explanation.

  • Deploy and configure devices so that an end user can set it up themselves. This is accomplished by automating OOBE (out of box experience) and the installation of apps and configuration of Windows afterwards.
  • Redeploy a device to a business-ready state. A device can be wiped in minutes, taking it back to OOBE, and ready to be handed to a new user and automatically configured based on their specifics needs.
  • Pre-provision a device with up-to-date applications, policies, and settings. A whole shipment of new devices can be quickly pre-provisioned by staff and ready for immediate deployment, or storage as spares until needed.

This automation magic is accomplished by a partnership between Autopilot, used to handle the automatization of OOBE, and Intune, used to handle the deployment of applications and customization of Windows. Paired with Azure Active Directory, you will have a fully cloud based device management solution, ready for the modern workforce.

The necessary features to use the excellent technology are included in the Microsoft 365 Business Premium, Enterprise E3/E5, and some of the government and education license offerings. If you are interested in learning more about how Windows Autopilot can help simplify the workflow of your IT team, contact Sikich today.

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