Windows Autopilot is a built-in desktop provisioning tool that is exclusive to Windows 10. It empowers IT professionals to automate the image deployment of new desktops with pre-configured settings. With Windows Autopilot, IT teams can set up new desktops to join existing configuration groups and apply pre-defined profiles to enable new users to access fully functional desktops from their initial logon. This simplifies the out-of-box experience (OOBE) for new organizational desktop users.
To use Windows Autopilot, IT must connect the devices to a Microsoft Azure portal and enroll them in Microsoft Windows Azure Active Directory. Once the device or devices are enrolled, IT can assign a desktop image to each user before registering their devices. Once the images are in place, users can log in and input their company credentials for identity verification.
The Windows Autopilot device registration process begins with IT logging a new device’s hardware ID and device type. IT professionals must add this information to their organization’s Windows Autopilot registry in the form of a comma-separated values (CSV) file.
Autopilot allows IT to create custom deployment profiles for each device. Each device requires a Windows Autopilot profile that defines the terms of its desktop deployment. The profiles can overwrite local desktop administrator privileges, disable Microsoft Cortana and other local applications, apply custom privacy settings, and more.
After defining the profiles for each device, IT professionals should wait for the user to first access the device before taking any further action. Once the user accesses the device and loads the new desktop, IT can perform its typical endpoint management practices.
Windows Autopilot includes several zero-touch provisioning (ZTP) features, such as a self-deploying mode that provides the simplest experience for the end-user. All users have to do is input their information and watch as the desktop provides updates on their enrollment status.
One of the primary benefits of Windows Autopilot is that IT professionals can quickly deploy profiles to new devices with basic profile settings. The CSV file format for inputting new devices is simple, which enables IT to deploy preset profiles to a large number of devices simultaneously. However, Windows Autopilot does not offer as many desktop profile options as some other configuration tools. Microsoft Configuration Designer, for instance, is a tool designed for provisioning in BYOD use cases that provides a high level of control over each profile by allowing IT to alter more specific configurations. Additionally, Microsoft Intune, which is part of the Microsoft Endpoint Manager tool, provides additional mobile device management options.
IT professionals can use Windows Autopilot in conjunction with other tools to perform different provisioning functions. While Windows Autopilot offers quick configurations and a simple OOBE for end-users, other tools can target more complicated desktop image profiles or profiles for mobile devices.