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Windows 10 now does hands-free, no-reboot upgrades

Microsoft has sweetened the Windows subscription pot by letting enterprise IT dispense with the traditional wipe-and-image OS deployment method in favor of an automatic-on-reboot metamorphosis from Windows 10 Pro to Windows 10 Enterprise.

The new feature, dubbed “Subscription Activation,” works with Windows 10 1703 – the April 2017 feature upgrade – or later, and requires access to Azure Active Directory (AAD). (The more common, on-premises Active Directory will serve in a pinch, as long as it’s synced with AAD.) It also, more obviously, demands a subscription to Windows 10 Enterprise, such as those included in the Windows 10 Enterprise E3 and E5 plans, or the newer Microsoft 365 E3 and E5 deals.

Wes Miller, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft, saw one sure-fire advantage to Subscription Activation. “The place that is interesting [to me] is for businesses repaving PCs when they get them,” said Miller in a recent interview. “Say you get a new Surface, but it’s just running [Windows 10] Pro, because OEMs [original equipment manufacturers] cannot ship Enterprise.”

Typically, IT personnel take that new device, wipe the Windows 10 Pro operating system from the system, then load the corporation’s customized Windows 10 Enterprise image onto the personal computer. Subscription Activation makes all that moot.

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