Windows 10 Fall Creators with AutoPilot
On October 17th, Microsoft released the Windows 10 Fall Creators update and there are many articles already available that discuss the consumer side of things. However, since its release I’ve been putting the build to the test by looking at the performance impact that upgrading has on VDI density, as well as the impact the new AutoPilot feature (part of Intune) has on fat clients, which I’m a big fan of.
Why would you care?
As we’ve seen in the past not all updates are good (at first). Remember the upgrade of Microsoft Office 2010 to 2013 and the 20% impact on user density? Ever since, a lot has changed to the upgrade game, we’ve seen Microsoft improved a lot with the upgrade to Microsoft Office 2016— improving user density in VDI systems that are CPU limited (be careful though when storage is the bottleneck).
Who of my peers are on Windows 10?
The survey conducted by Ruben and myself in June shows that Windows 10 is picking up fast when it comes to end-user computing (EUC). 837 people from all over the world answered the following question: What OSs are used for desktop VMs?
The performance of different Windows versions
Over the years, we’ve started to take for granted that with every release of a new product systems would get slower, but do they? To back-up this discussion with some actual data, I’ve set up my VDI test environment with three different builds of Windows 10 and used Login VSI’s virtual user technology to measure the amount users that would overload my one test server (this point is referred to as VSImax).
To prevent any human errors, everything in these tests was executed via full automation, from the generation of the virtual machine images with the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (part of Microsoft Enterprise Mobility) to the PowerShell magic by Henk Hofs. All the infrastructure components running on Microsoft Hyper-V were isolated and running on different hosts compared to the desktop images, who were running on Dell R730s with local flash storage on XenServer.
In the graph above, it’s clear to see that the performance differences (when CPU is the bottleneck) between different builds of Windows 10 are within acceptable margins, it’s also nice to see that since build 1607, performance has actually improved. Please note that in this case the images have not been optimized in any way—I would recommend always looking into optimizing your desktop images with, e.g. Microsoft’s recommendations, VMware’s OSOT or the Citrix Optimizer, but for more on this you’ll have to wait for my next blogpost ?.
The impact of Windows updates?
The difference between build 1607 and 1703 made me think, if Windows can get faster by performing updates, then what would happen if I fully update my image with all the available Microsoft hotfixes? So, I logged back on to the lab machines and made sure I could deploy a fully updated image of build 1703 and then executed another test. To my surprise, I noticed that again I gained some users as you can see in the column marked 1703u.
What if I’m not serving VDI from a thin client?
For the VDI Like a Pro market research mentioned above, we also surveyed VDI admins on what end-points they offer their virtual desktops to their end-users. Quickly realizing that more than 50% is on laptops or workstations, this made me look outside of my little virtual comfort bubble and I stumbled upon Windows AutoPilot. Granted the idea is not new, but I’m all about user experience and this feature ticks all the boxes when it comes to that.
Since build 1703, the AutoPilot feature has been available for use, but with the 1709 Fall Creators update the real-world usability got a big bump in the right direction—now offering: Enhanced personalization for self-service deployment and self-service deployment for Active Directory domain-joined devices. If you look below, you can see data from my VDI Like a Pro market research regarding an EMM solutions, answered by 774 people, where its clear Intune is on the rise, from 2.8% in 2015 to currently 15.4% market penetration in 2017.
There are some requirements to AutoPilot that I could not meet in my lab environment quickly, but fortunately I was able to bribe convince a sysadmin to give me access to a production Intune/SCCM environment for a day ?.
To setup AutoPilot in your environment, go to the Microsoft Store for Business, and via Manage/Devices you can start enrolling devices into your organization. This process will change in the future, OEMs like Dell and Lenovo will register your devices for you on purchase while they ship them to the end-user directly. If you are like me, working in a lab environment, you must get some device information in different way. To do so, you can use the Get-WindowsAutoPilot script from the PowerShell Gallery.
To test this with a virtual machine, I have deployed a clean Windows 10 Enterprise 1709 virtual machine on Hyper-V, and after a default setup, I’ve started it in Admin mode by pressing Ctrl+Shift+F3 on the screen where you choose your Windows language. This reboots the machine in Audit mode. After the reboot, I’ve executed the script, started the sysprep process (without generalize) and shutdown my virtual machine.
Now we can load the CSV file we’ve just generated and import it into the MS Store for Business/Devices tab. After that’s completed, we can go to the Intune management in your Azure portal to set up a deployment profile, which I can assign some basic settings to.
The last step is to assign my (virtual) machine to the deployment profile, then we’re ready to test. To see the results, check out the video below, the virtual machine starts and is automatically detected as a Login VSI owned device, allowing me to sign-on with my corporate credentials. Within a few minutes my machine is provisioned and enrolled into the organization and I’m good to go. Nice!