Autopilot, one of the hottest buzzwords within Windows 10 management of 2018, if you ask me. And I think you agree. Why? This small piece of technology has changed the way we look at IT. Not because it revolutionizes every aspect of the way you deliver IT into the hands of our users, but it fundamentally changes an important peace making us think about change and transformation along the way as a synergy. And this makes us ask the question - can we transform other pieces of our IT services delivered to our users.
Now, I assume you know what Autopilot is and what it does. However, I will provide some links to some useful sites and blogs where you can get up to speed if you are unaware what Autopilot can do for you and your organization.
But what is this blog post about?
There are a lot of good resources out there talking about how to set Autopilot up, manage it including the devices provisioned by Autopilot. But there is not a lot of good resources explaining what or how to get a hold of an Autopilot device and what you should think of prior to making the PO. And this is important!
First, all the bigger OEM's like HP, Dell, Lenovo, Acer, Toshiba etc. have Autopilot now as part of their service. How far along and how well integrated may vary, however I feel that all of the mentioned ones has come a far way integrating Autopilot as part of their delivery chain and logistics. But as general recommendation ask your reseller or contact person at one of the OEM's and they will be happy to answer any question. You are also more than welcome to reach out to me or anyone here at CTGlobal as well.
Here is a list of what you need to think about!
- First, when ordering a device make sure that it is "Autopilot ready". Meaning that the reseller, distributor or the OEM can provide you with the necessary information to link the device to your tenant. Or that they can feed the necessary information directly into your tenant. Any Microsoft CSP partner (Tier 1 or Tier 2) have these capabilities and the OEM'S have also some possibilities here. I good idea is to just consult with one of your contact persons at the OEM or reseller.
- Second, when ordering the device, ask for a clean image without any bloatware. This is important! As we have traditionally imaged the devices, we have not bothered asking to get a Windows 10 Pro image from the OEM's with just Windows 10 installed. Why? Well since we have formatted the device and installed a custom image, we have never had the need to have a clean image sent from the OEM. But this is more important and relevant today. With Autopilot the end-user will receive the device directly from OEM instead of it being channeled through IT and we need the image as clean as possible to give the best user experience.
- Third, make sure that the SKU delivered with the device is either Windows 10 Pro or Windows 10 Pro Education. This is also important as these to SKU's are the only ones that can be used to upgrade the device to Windows 10 Enterprise or Windows 10 Education based on Subscription based licenses. Today you can by Windows 10 Enterprise the same way you do with Office 365 for instance. And when you attach the Windows 10 Enterprise license to a user, the device will be upgraded to Windows 10 Enterprise the moment the user logs into the device via Azure AD. If you put another SKU on the device, the upgrade to Enterprise or Education will fail.
- Fourth, make sure to get your BIOS settings straight before it is shipped to the user. Once again important. To fully support management and security features built into Windows 10, certain BIOS settings needs to be enabled or activated and it would be considered a failed project if you had to do some manual hands on work on the device after it is shipped. So here is a list of features, not limited to, that you should get configured before device is shipped to your users
- TPM Activated
- Virtualiztion Activated
- Secure Boot Enabled
- UFEI Enabled
- Fifth, order "Autopilot ready" devices today! Even though you are not ready for Autopilot or have even considered it, make sure when you are ordering new devices today that they are "Autopilot ready". This will proactively help you and your organization when you are ready for the switch making sure that there are the bare minimum friction when you want to convert to Autopilot. So even if you use custom images deployed with ConfigMgr, MDT or any other 3. Party management tool, consider to order devices that are configured to meet the requirements of Autopilot
- Tags, make sure the devices is sent to the correct place with the correct Autopilot profile. When you place your order, of let's say 1000 devices, chances are that there is not one destination. Another thing is that there is a chance that you may want different Autopilot profiles to different devices. Some users is going to be local administrators, some will not. Some devices will have a certain prefix in the device name, other will have another typ of name. This is configurable in the Autopilot Profile, but you have to make sure that the devices shipped ends up with the appropriate profile and that you split this up. Use Tags to create dynimic rules for your Azure AD groups so you can dynamically assign your Autopilot profiles. And make sure that the PO reflects these tags.
One more thing I would like to mention - Pilot your Purchase. Place one or two orders with different Autopilot profiles where you can test to see if everything works as you expect.
That's it. I hope this make it a bit clear. What I am trying to do is to get across the point that there are things that should and need to be considered when ordering Windows 10 devices today, that traditionally customers have not asked. And there is a lot of confusion around the topic. And to get a successful Autopilot project, you need to consider the 5 point above.
Finally, remember you need cloud services like Microsoft Intune and Azure AD configured, up and running in order to be able to use Autopilot.
Reach out if you have any questions!
Read about Windows Autopilot here: