Simpler computer deployment with Windows Autopilot

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Written by
Dan Welch and Drew Braithwaite

Panasonic Mobile Solutions Business Division

Take the pain out of computer deployments with Windows Autopilot

One of the major time sucks for an IT administrator is the deployment of new computing devices to users. The process of building a custom profile, gathering everything else that is necessary -  such as drivers, apps, settings and policies – and then deploying it all to each individual computer can be very time consuming and expensive.

Introducing a way for the user to unbox and set-up their own new mobile computing device would be desirable for any organisation and particularly those with more than several hundred users based at multiple locations.

By using the latest functionality in the Windows Autopilot cloud-based service, organisations can do just that; standardising the process to remove interaction from IT departments entirely.

This process has a range of benefits for the organisation: no more maintenance of images and devices, no need for IT to touch the devices, a simple process for users and IT.

To achieve this goal, Autopilot is integrated into the computer manufacturer’s purchasing process. For example, when customers order a Panasonic TOUGHBOOK notebook or tablet with Windows 10 Pro they can choose to manage the configuration and deployment using Windows Autopilot. Device profiles are created by the customer IT department or by Panasonic and pre-loaded into the Cloud.  Then during configuration Panasonic pre-registers the hardware information into the cloud from its European configuration and service centre in Cardiff. The devices are then dispatched directly to the end users, who simply switch them on straight out of the box, enter their credentials and the device is configured automatically over the cloud to deliver their specific business set-up.

From the perspective of the end user, it just takes a few simple operations to make their device ready to use. From the perspective of the IT pro, Autopilot handles the full configuration and provisioning of the devices – the end user simply needs to connect to a network and to verify their credentials.  Everything beyond that is automated.

All configuration and data can flow down to the device out-of-the box and can be secured and configured without IT interaction. The device is then ready for use, including:

  • The appropriate OEM-optimized Windows licence
  • The latest Windows updates
  • Custom software load, such as Office
  • Any personal settings, configurations, and security settings 
  • Any user data

There are of course some criteria that customers seeking to use Windows Autopilot must meet.  They must have the following:

  • Azure AD Premium (P1 or P2) subscription
  • Microsoft Intune, or another Autopilot-compatible MDM solution
  • Devices which use Autopilot must have access to Microsoft Azure AD infrastructure via LAN or WiFi

Windows Autopilot is also designed to simplify all parts of the lifecycle of Windows devices, for both IT and end users, from initial deployment through the eventual end of life. Different use scenarios include:

  1. User-Driven, Self-Service Deployment. Primary use as described in this blog.
  2. Local Reset. The local reset option allows IT to wipe any unwanted information on local devices delivering a fully managed device ready to be used by the next person.
  3. Remote Reset. The same as the local reset but it can be initiated remotely through Intune.
  4. Self-Deploying Mode. A self-deploying for shared devices that have no primary user.
  5. Hybrid AD Join. Allows organisations to include more devices through Microsoft's new co-management capabilities by joining devices to Active Directory and enrolling them in Intune or any comparable MDM solution. 
  6. Windows Autopilot for existing devices. Useful for IT pros wanting to migrate devices from Windows 7 to Windows 10 for example.

By using these cloud-based services, it can reduce the overall costs for deploying, managing, and retiring devices by reducing the amount of time that IT needs to spend on these processes and the amount of infrastructure that they need to maintain, while ensuring ease of use for all types of end users.

Find out more about Panasonic's Autopilot enrolment service.

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