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Windows Autopilot for HoloLens 2 Hits Preview

Windows Autopilot, Microsoft's PC self-provisioning program, is now being tested for use with the company's mixed-reality headset, the HoloLens 2.

Microsoft announced the public preview of Windows Autopilot for HoloLens 2 on Friday. Notably, the preview works with the Microsoft Endpoint Manager Admin Center portal, which IT pros can use to set up deployment profiles for HoloLens 2 devices. For instance, they can provision HoloLens 2 devices with Windows Autopilot's "Self-Deploying mode."

Here's what Self-Deploying Mode does, per the announcement: 

Self-Deploying mode joins the device into Azure AD [Active Directory], enrolls the device in Microsoft Endpoint Manager (or another mobile device management, MDM, service), and applies all device targeted policies (such as certificates, networking profiles, and kiosk settings) before the user logs in.

Windows Autopilot is perhaps better known as a program Microsoft has with its PC-vendor partners. It lets them ship Windows 10 devices that can be self-provisioned by end users "out of the box." The IT work involved in imaging PCs and doing the setup gets skipped on a case-by-case basis. Instead, end users just plug in the machines that were shipped to them directly from a PC vendor, and they get a provisioned desktop with all of the applications and corporate settings in place.

The Windows Autopilot preview for HoloLens 2 apparently works similarly. It's enabled via Windows Holographic version 2004 or newer software. Windows Holographic version 2004 was released in May, but HoloLens 2 systems started shipping with it preinstalled in "late September," the announcement explained.

Windows Holographic sounds like it's an operating system, but it's described as "a mixed reality platform developed by Microsoft, built around the API of Windows 10" by Unity Technologies, a maker of a real-time 3-D development platform and a Microsoft partner.

Other perks enabled by Windows Holographic version 2004 include FIDO 2 support for user authentications that don't involve passwords, easier provisioning via USB drives, 5G/LTE wireless support, plus additional voice commands and hand-tracking improvements, among other details.

Organizations wanting to use the preview of Windows Autopilot for HoloLens 2 should work with their device reseller or distributor. Here's Microsoft's advice in that respect:

For device registration, we recommend that you work with your reseller or distributor to ensure that when devices are delivered to you or your users, they are Windows-Autopilot-ready. Microsoft Cloud Solution Providers can assist you in that process.

Resellers started selling HoloLens 2 devices last year. The devices get sold with various add-on subscription plans designed to address specific industry use cases. These days, HoloLens 2 is mostly being marketed as a device that businesses might use. Typical uses for HoloLens 2 might include training people, doing field repairs or modeling equipment at the design stage.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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