On July 29th, 2015, Microsoft made Windows 10 generally available to people worldwide. Today, we celebrate Windows 10’s 5th anniversary!
At its release, Windows 10 offered many new features, including its new release schedule, Cortana, the Action Center and Microsoft Edge.
Its identity, security and management features make a lot of difference for large organizations, when compared to Windows 7 (support ended on January 14th, 2020) and Windows 8.1. So let’s take a look at the history of some of the features that we’ve grown to love in Windows 10:
Windows 10, version 1507
Windows 10 RTM, codenamed Threshold 1 with build number 10240.18638 introduced a lot of features, by default, like the then new Microsoft Edge, Cortana, UEFI Secure Boot, virtualization-based security (VBS), Always-on and App-triggered VPN connections and new audit subcategories, on capable devices.
In Identity terms, the initial version of Windows 10 introduced Windows Hello, Azure AD Join and automatic BitLocker Drive Encryption for Azure AD-joined InstantGo-capable devices with recovery information stored in Azure AD.
Expanding on the functionality of Windows 8.1, Windows 10 RTM offered extensive mobile device management (MDM) support, including capabilities to manage AppLocker, Microsoft Store and VPN.
Windows 10, version 1511
The RTM version was superseded on November 12th, 2015 by with Windows 10 ‘Threshold 2’, version 1511. This was the last version of the ‘Threshold’ codenamed Windows 10 versions. This version of Windows 10 introduced the Microsoft Store for Business and the initial Credential Guard features.
Windows 10, version 1607
Windows 10’s Anniversary update on August 2nd 2016 (version 1607) was the first release of the ‘Redstone’ codenamed Windows 10 versions. This version introduced Windows Hello for Business, including Group Policy settings and Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP).
In Identity terms, this third release of Windows 10 introduced the ability to use Remote Desktop Connection to Azure AD-joined devices and the Shared PC mode concept.
Windows 10, version 1703
If your organization wanted to join devices to Azure AD in bulk, then Windows 10, version 1703, released on April 5th, 2017, was the answer to your questions. Organizations that were rolling out Windows Hello for Business gained the ability to reset a forgotten PIN without deleting company managed data or apps on devices managed by Microsoft Intune.
It also offered new features for Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP), Windows Defender Antivirus, Device Guard, Credential Guard and mobile device management. Windows 10 version 1607 introduced mobile application management (MAM) support to Windows 10.
Windows 10, version 1709
The Fall Creators Update (Windows 10 version 1709), introduced Windows AutoPilot. Windows Defender Application Guard and Exploit Guard were introduced, next to improvements for Windows Defender ATP and Device Guard.
In Identity terms, Windows 10 version 1709 introduced multi-factor unlock for Windows Hello for Business, based on location and proximity of paired Bluetooth devices. With these settings enabled, Windows 10 can be configured to automatically lock when the person leaves the device unattended.
Windows 10, version 1803
On April 30th, 2018, Microsoft made Windows 10, version 1803 generally available. This version of Windows 10 introduced ‘S mode’ to lockdown devices to the fullest and enjoy the most of the batteries in Windows 10 devices.
From an identity point of view, Windows 10 version 1803 introduced many Windows Hello for Business improvements, including support for FIDO2 security keys for Azure AD-joined devices.
Windows 10, version 1809
The last member in the Redstone family of releases , version 1809, was released on November 13th 2018 after two initial snags. Windows 10 version 1809 introduced expanded management capabilities, improvements to Windows Defender ATP, Windows Defender Application Guard, and it introduced Kernel DMA Protection.
In Identity terms, Windows 10 version 1809 introduced the Fast Sign-in functionality, Remote Desktop with Biometrics and was the first version that enabled Windows Defender Credential Guard by default on Azure AD-joined Windows 10 S devices.
After five releases, the Redstone family of releases came to an end.
Windows 10 version 1903
Version 1903 (or 19H1) was the first version that didn’t carry the codename. However, it did carry a load of new functionality, including Windows AutoPilot White Glove deployment, and many improvements to Windows Defender ATP, Windows Defender Firewall and Windows Defender System Guard.
In Identity terms, it carried a Windows Hello FIDO2 certification and brought a streamlined Windows Hello PIN reset experience.
Windows 10 version 1909
On November 12, 2019, Microsoft made Widows 10 version 1909 (or 19H2) available. Widely observed as a small update to Windows 10 version 1903, it did provide new functionality, like an experimental implementation of TLS 1.3 and Windows Sandbox. Its integration with Azure AD, Microsoft Endpoint Manager and Desktop Analytics was unparalleled.
Windows 10 version 2004
The latest version of Windows 10 that was introduced in the past five years is Windows 10 version 2004. It was made generally available on May 27th, 2020.
From an identity point of view, Windows 10 version 2004 introduced FIDO2 for hybrid environments in capable networking environments, Windows Hello for Microsoft Accounts and Windows Hello in safe mode (with PIN).
An important change, however, was that starting with Windows 10, version 1909 (19H2), Microsoft supports Windows 10 *H2 for 30 months when they are Windows 10 Enterprise, Windows 10 Education or Windows 10 Enterprise IOT installations:
For enterprise and large education organizations, this means they will be focusing on *H2 releases, going forward.
I feel Windows 10 is an awesome Operating System.