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With Windows 11 generally available, you can now begin to upgrade eligible Windows 10 devices in your organization and empower your end users with signature experiences tuned for hybrid work. This post summarizes the resources available to help you plan for and deploy Windows 11, including:
- Deployment and management tools for Windows 11
- Assessing device readiness across your estate
- Windows 11 application compatibility support
- Windows 11 technical documentation
- Evaluating Windows 11
Windows 11 general availability explained
General availability means that Windows 11 is now available through familiar channels including Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) and Windows Update for Business. Windows 11 can also be downloaded from Visual Studio Subscriptions, the Software Download Center (via the Windows 11 Installation Assistant or the Media Creation Tool), and the Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC) .
As an organization, you control when and how you roll out Windows 11 to the devices you manage. Endpoints managed by Windows Update for Business will not be automatically upgraded to Windows 11 unless an administrator explicitly configures a Target Version via the TargetReleaseVersion setting using a Windows CSP, a feature update profile in Microsoft Intune, or the Select target Feature Update version setting in Group Policy.
Today marks the start of the 36-month servicing support lifecycle for Enterprise and Education editions of Windows 11. Home, Pro, Pro for Workstations, and Pro for Education editions of Windows 11 will receive 24 months of servicing support beginning today. For details, see the Windows lifecycle FAQ. As with Windows 10, Windows 11 will receive regular monthly quality updates to provide security updates and bug fixes.
Deployment and management tools for Windows 11
The following tools and resources are available now to support your Windows 11 adoption efforts:
- Windows 11 Enterprise Evaluation – This free 90-day evaluation enables you to try Windows 11 Enterprise on behalf of your organization, testing infrastructure, applications, and deployment processes alike.
- Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (Windows ADK) for Windows 11 – Customize Windows images for large-scale deployment or test the quality and performance of your system, added components, and applications.
Note: If you are deploying Windows 11 with Configuration Manager, the Windows ADK is a required external dependency. The Windows ADK for Windows 11 can be used with Configuration Manager, version 2107 and later.
- Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) for Windows 11 – As with recent versions of Windows 10, RSAT are included as a set of "Features on Demand" in Windows 11. To add this optional feature so that you can manage Windows Server roles and features from a Windows 11 device, navigate to Settings > Apps > Optional features > Add an optional feature and select View features.
Additional tools and resources will be available soon:
- Security baseline (DRAFT) for Windows 11 – Available October 5, 2021
- Administrative Templates (.admx) for Windows 11 – Available October 5, 2021
- Group Policy Settings Reference Spreadsheet for Windows 11 – Available October 5, 2021
In the coming weeks, we plan to release a Windows 11 deployment lab kit to help you plan, test, and validate the way you deploy and manage Windows 11 Enterprise devices. And, for those looking for help with end-user communications, deployment timelines, and workback schedules, Microsoft will offer a Windows 11 adoption kit containing templates and other helpful resources.
This post will be updated with links to these new resources once they are available.
Assessing device readiness across your estate
To aid you in identifying which devices in your estate are eligible for the Windows 11 upgrade, you can leverage the Windows 11 Readiness Status report in Update Compliance.
Not only does this new report provide a breakdown of capable and not capable devices enrolled in the service, it also lists the reason(s) for not capable assignments, which align to the Windows 11 system requirements published by Microsoft.
In the case that the service is unable to determine readiness, the status will be shown as unknown.
To ensure that the readiness status of your devices is computed and reported in Update Compliance. Microsoft recommends that you update devices with the most recent security updates.
As announced in September, the Work from anywhere report in Endpoint analytics also offers Windows 11 hardware readiness insights for all Intune-managed and co-managed devices in Endpoint analytics, as well as devices enrolled via tenant attach with Configuration Manager, version 2107 or newer. For more information, see Understanding readiness for Windows 11 with Microsoft Endpoint Manager.
For those not using Update Compliance or Endpoint analytics, or for those using a version of Configuration Manager older than version 2107, a Hardware Readiness PowerShell script is available as an interim solution to help you determine if your devices meet the Windows 11 minimum system requirements.
Windows 11 application compatibility support
Windows 11 offers the same compatibility promise as Windows 10: a 99.7% compatibility rate for enterprise organizations, including line of business (LOB) apps. If you run into a compatibility issue, App Assure can help. For application vendors, Test Base for Microsoft 365 enables you to onboard and validate apps for Windows 11 in a managed environment. For more information, see Microsoft extends application compatibility promise to Windows 11.
If you are developing an application for Windows, read today's post on the Windows Developer Blog and bookmark the Compatibility cookbook for Windows 11 for guidelines on validation steps specific to the changes made in Windows 11.
Windows 11 documentation
Guidance to help you plan and prepare for Windows 11 across your organization can be found in the Windows 11 documentation. As the majority of deployment processes remain the same from Windows 10 to Windows 11, we are updating the "Applies to" tags across our Windows client deployment documentation library and highlighting differences where applicable.
Timely information on the status of the Windows 11 rollout, details on any known issues (including the status of those issues, workarounds, and resolutions), and other important announcements (such as those related to lifecycle updates or upcoming readiness events) are available on the Windows release health dashboard. There is also a new Windows 11 release information page offering important information about the Windows 11 servicing lifecycle, current versions, and—beginning with Update Tuesday later this month—monthly quality updates.
Note: As it is being released in the second half of the year, the version number for this original release of Windows 11 is 21H2.
Evaluate Windows 11
As noted above, if you are interested in trying Windows 11 Enterprise on behalf of your organization, you can download a free 90-day evaluation. For early access to new features and capabilities for future releases of Windows 11, join the Windows Insider Program for Business and run Insider Preview Builds on individual devices, virtual machines, or across your organization.
In case you missed any of today's announcements in support of Windows 11 general availability, here's a quick recap:
- As we reach October 5th around the world, availability of Windows 11 begins through a free upgrade on eligible Windows 10 PCs and on new PCs pre-installed with Windows 11, which are now available for purchase. Read Panos Panay's official announcement, Windows 11: A new era for the PC begins today.
- Windows 11 was built with built-in chip to cloud protection that helps ensure your assets stay secure no matter where work happens. For more information, see Windows 11 offers chip to cloud protection to meet the new security challenges of hybrid work.
- Beginning today, organizations can begin moving to Windows 11 with new devices in a wide array of form factors—and through the cloud with Windows 365 or Azure Virtual Desktop. For details, see Empower your hybrid workforce today with Windows 11
- Microsoft will use a phased and measured approach in offering the Windows 11 upgrade to unmanaged devices. To learn more about rollout plans and the upgrade experience, see How to get Windows 11.
Finally, among the new capabilities available with Windows 11 today, check out Power Automate for desktop, which enables you to automate repetitive desktop processes and provides hundreds of prebuilt drag-and-drop actions so that you can automate workflows from your Windows desktop across the tools that you interact with every day. Sound cool? It is! Learn more by reading Getting started with Power Automate for desktop in Windows 11.
I hope you found this post helpful. For the latest updates on new releases, tools, and resources, stay tuned to this blog and follow us @MSWindowsITPro on Twitter. To connect with other IT professionals planning for and deploying Windows 11, join the conversation in the Windows 11 Tech Community.