Regardless of what Windows version, edition and channel your company is using on its production machines, one thing is sure: at sometime in the not too distant future it must be upgraded. This makes it important that IT admins and staff stay up to date on the development and evolution of Windows versions. It is important to know in advance how our own apps will react to changes, and how they will work in the next Windows ecosystem.
The Windows Insider Program for Business launched in February 2017 (see Insider blog). In just over a year, it has grown to a platform to not only let business users see what’s coming in Windows but also to test and try out Microsoft 365 and Windows AutoPilot. This program is quite well documented, so there’s no need to copy & paste all that here, with one exception I wanted to share: One of the most compelling reasons to join is to stay up to date or rather ahead of times, as stated on https://insider.windows.com/en-us/for-business-getting-started/#explore
Along with exploring new features, you also have the opportunity to validate your apps and infrastructure on Insider Preview builds. This activity can play an important role in your Windows 10 deployment strategy. Early validation has several benefits:
- Get a head start on your Windows validation process.
- Identify issues sooner to accelerate your Windows deployment.
- Engage Microsoft earlier for help with potential compatibility issues.
- Deploy Windows 10 Semi-Annual releases faster and more confidently.
- Maximize the support window that comes with each Semi-Annual release.
Familiarizing oneself with new features today when deployment should start next week is still, although not very common, a way to do things in some companies. IT departments are under constant pressure, servicing existing infrastructure and users while at the same already planning their next steps. As an IT admin, you should explain to your decision makers that the whole business will benefit if you get a spare machine for use as an Insider machine. In fact, although it’s strongly recommended by Microsoft, you do not even need an extra machine. Simply install an Insider Preview on a native boot VHD or an extra partition for dual boot (see this post).
When you have joined the Windows Insider Program for Business, join Microsoft Olympia, a Windows Insider Lab for Enterprise project. Enrolling in Olympia gives Insiders a chance to test Windows AutoPilot to deploy Microsoft 365. Read more here.
According to Microsoft, more than 40% of all Insiders work in IT. It might be that you already are an Insider, testing new preview builds on your private machines. However, doing it in a controlled and planned way as a Business Insider, you will make your own job easier at the same time preparing for the next big upgrade cycle. In my opinion, you have nothing to lose and quite a lot to gain by joining this program.
To get started with the Windows Insider Program for Business, check first the Getting Started page at https://insider.windows.com/en-us/for-business-getting-started/. On Microsoft Docs you can find full instructions and requirements: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/deployment/update/waas-windows-insider-for-business.
Join the Windows Insider Program for Business today. You will not regret it!
Author: Kari Finn
A Windows Insider MVP, Kari started in computing in the mid 80’s writing code for VAX / VMS systems. Since then, he’s worked in a variety of IT positions. He specializes in Windows image capture, customization, repair and deployment as well as Hyper-V virtualization. Kari is a proud Team Member at number #1 Windows site TenForums.com.