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Microsoft Ups Productivity Game In Windows 10 October 2018 Update

New features such as the ability to more easily pick up where you left off after switching devices are debuting in Windows 10, starting this week.

Along with numerous enhancements for IT professionals, Microsoft's launch of the Windows 10 October 2018 Update brings "a whole host" of general productivity improvements, one prominent Microsoft partner told CRN.

Reed Wiedower, CTO of Washington, D.C.-based New Signature, No. 396 on the CRN Solution Provider 500, said in an email that IT-focused updates such as improvements to Windows Autopilot and Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection "are all huge."

[Related: Microsoft Ignite 2018: 9 Key Updates To Office 365 And Security]

However, Windows 10 October 2018 Update also brings many productivity-oriented changes that all users should appreciate, he said.

The biggest change Microsoft has made on the productivity front has been making it easier to move from device to device and retain one's work state, Wiedower said.

"The new cloud clipboard tied to Screen Sketch, the timeline syncing to phones, the ability to 'resume' web browsing between different versions of Edge – all of this makes it really easy to switch between machines for those of us with two or more devices," he said.

Also on the productivity front, the new version of Windows 10 brings AI-powered improvements to areas such as PowerPoint and Word "Ideas"—and ultimately even to Teams, where meetings can be transcribed and backgrounds can be blurred during webcam calls, Wiedower noted.

Meanwhile, Microsoft's Edge browser continues to mature, he said.

"Most folks I've spoken with over the past six months have moved from a position where it was seen as inferior to Firefox or Chrome to one where it is either the No. 2 browser used, or in many cases, the default," Wiedower said.

One example of a popular Edge feature is the new ability to automatically block media from playing on websites – something that's required a third-party plugin in the past, but is now native to Edge, he said.

Additionally, "there are a lot of backend security improvements that don't require IT administration, but ultimately reduce the number of compromised machines in the wild – which drives satisfaction for everyone," Wiedower said.

Microsoft began rolling out the Windows 10 October 2018 Update this week. It's the sixth major feature update for Windows 10 so far.

On the IT front, Windows Defender ATP gets an array of upgrades in the Windows 10 October 2018 Update, Microsoft said.

The upgrades include Threat Analytics (for interactive reports on emerging attack threats); the ability to write custom queries with advanced threat hunting; a solution for automatically resolving a security alert when a threat has been remediated; and the introduction of Microsoft Threat Protection, which serves as an end-to-end offering (across Windows, Office and Azure) for detecting threats and remediating their impacts.

Windows Autopilot, which aims to simplify device setup for IT, is also getting a number of enhancements in the Windows 10 October 2018 Update, according to Microsoft.

For existing devices, Windows Autopilot will now offer configuration support for easier migration of Windows 7 devices onto Windows 10. Windows Autopilot will also enable the joining of devices to Azure Active Directory during deployments that are driven by users, and will introduce a "self-deploying mode" for zero-touch provisioning of devices.

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