Microsoft has put forth its Windows 10 version 2004 update, or its Spring 2020 release. (The number 2004 refers to 2020 April—even though it was released in May. Microsoft notes that it chose to use 04 over 03 in order to avoid confusion with the year 2003. Still confused? The first two digits refer to the year, and the spring release usually receives its feature release in March, or 03 for the last two digits.) The important point is that you want to know what the Windows 10 version 2004 improvements are, and we’re here to fill you in.
New Windows Hello and FIDO2 Support
Windows Hello, Microsoft’s biometric authentication system, is now supported across all major browsers (including Firefox and Chrome) as a FIDO2 authenticator. This means that you can enable passwordless sign-in on your Windows 10 devices, using fingerprints or facial recognition for verification instead. Azure Active Directory hybrid environments also now have expanded FIDO2 security key support.
Windows Defender System Guard
Additional System Management Mode (SMM) Firmware Protection is now included in Windows Defender System Guard. This allows the operating system to reveal SMM compliance at a higher level and better protect against SMM vulnerabilities and exploits. This improvement requires new hardware which will be available soon.
Application Guard for Office
Windows Defender Application Guard uses hardware-based virtualization to provide a secure container which is separate from your device. Potentially harmful files can then be opened there, protecting the device itself from vulnerabilities. Coming soon, Application Guard will be available for Office—which means you can securely read, edit, save, or print the files in question without having to open them outside the safeguarded container.
VPN Support for Windows Autopilot User-Driven Hybrid Azure Active Directory Join
Windows Autopilot user-driven mode allows new Windows 10 devices to be quickly transformed from their initial factory-sent state into ready-to-use devices, without IT personnel ever needing to touch them. You can now configure this in Hybrid Azure Active Directory Join, with VPN support. (This is backported to versions 1909 and 1903 as well.) Note: this feature only supports Windows 10 Pro and Enterprise. Windows 10 Home is not supported for Autopilot deployments.
Microsoft Deployment Toolkit version 8456 Supports Windows 10 version 2004
This new version of Windows 10 is supported by Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT). However, there appears to be a problem with it falsely detecting Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI). Follow up with Microsoft later to check progress on fixing this issue.
MDT is the “free” version of SCCM and allows you to quickly image 100’s of workstations over the network at the same time using PXE boot and a customized task sequence.
Enhanced Capability and Support in Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL)
Before this release, a WSL Virtual Machine’s memory only had the capacity to expand—it wouldn’t shrink when that memory wasn’t needed anymore. Now, if memory is no longer being used in a Linux VM, it will be freed back to Windows. WSL2 support has also been added for ARM64 devices that support virtualization, like the Surface Pro X.
The cloud-connected Desktop Analytics provides data-driven insights for managing Windows endpoints that a company uses. New this month is a cleaned-up interface which consolidates different versions of the same app, so that you can view and make decisions for all versions of that app at the same time. (If you need separate actions for different versions, you can still configure that too.)
Bumps in the Road for Windows 10 version 2004
Microsoft spent several extra months testing this version rollout with Windows Insiders, hoping for smooth sailing in its release. Alas, several typical issues with bugs and driver incompatibilities have arisen nevertheless. After all, the Windows driver ecosystem is said to consist of 16 million unique hardware/driver combinations, so some stumbles are bound to happen. Along with the MDT problem, Microsoft is investigating several other issues that have been problematic since the release. While they work on fixing these bugs, the company offers advice on what to avoid regarding the new releases.
In addition to Microsoft updates, another thing you want to stay on top of is your customers’ needs. See how to get a better picture of who your customers are and what they want in our article on the 360-degree customer view.