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Top 10 enterprise desktop management tips of 2015

Windows 10, Mac integration and OS security were topics of interest for enterprise desktop admins in 2015.

The biggest event in the world of enterprise desktop management in 2015 was Microsoft's release of Windows 10. As a result, IT administrators clamored for advice on how to use the new operating system throughout the year.

It's no surprise that five of the top 10 most-read tips on SearchEnterpriseDesktop this year covered Windows 10, including how to improve performance and how to customize the Start menu. Windows 10 wasn't the only topic admins wanted to learn more about, however. Integrating Macs in the enterprise was another hot issue, as was tightening Windows 8.1 security and getting to know the Awk command.

Join us as we go back through the top 10 most-viewed tips from 2015 and relive the year that was in enterprise desktop management.

How to improve Windows 10 performance

The number one tip in 2015 explored how admins can take advantage of Windows 10's configurability to make the OS run faster with a few simple changes. The first way to boost Windows 10 performance is to buy more RAM. With more RAM, admins can minimize the paging file, which supports system crash dumps and writes file content to a disk when a user is almost out of memory. With just 8 GB of RAM it's unlikely users will consume all of their memory so crash dumps are rare, minimizing the need for paging files.

Other suggestions include replacing the hard drive with a solid-state drive to improve startup times, disabling superfluous visual effects in the user interface and removing unnecessary services such as ASP.NET.

Windows 10 knows what device is in use

IT admins and users alike rejoiced to hear Windows 10 would leave the Windows 8 Start screen disaster in the past. To deliver a more user-friendly experience Microsoft introduced Continuum which adjusts the screen orientation based on the device in use. So if the user has a tablet, the OS enables touchscreen features. If the OS detects a keyboard, then it launches in a more traditional format.

Windows 10 introduces welcome changes to the Command Prompt

The Command Prompt is one of Windows' only remaining original features, and before Windows 10 it had really only undergone one major change in the OS's 30-year history. So when Windows 10 introduced some major and welcomed changes, IT admins took notice.

Windows 10 modified the copy-and-paste functions in the Command Prompt; admins can finally use the Ctrl + C and Ctrl + Z shortcuts. The Command Prompt also recognizes wrapped text for the first time, so it no longer inserts page breaks any time a piece of pasted text reaches the right edge of the screen.

How Windows 10 compares to past Windows OSes

The Windows 10 hype had already ramped up as 2014 turned into 2015. IT admins wanted to learn what the new OS would include. Our number four tip looks at Windows 10's new features and compares them to past versions of Windows. The article explores the new Web browser, Spartan -- which we now know as Microsoft Edge -- its voice commands and embedded sub-browsers. It also looks at Cortana's integration into Windows 10 and assures everyone the Start menu issues from Windows 8 are in the past.

Manage Macs in the enterprise

Macs are not PCs. Our first non-Windows 10 tip on the list drove that point home. It details some common Mac integration challenges around networking and file sharing. It also dives into Active Directory (AD) problems, which prevent Macs from authenticating on the AD server and stops them from communicating with other devices on the network. The article also outlines some security problems and application compatibility issues which make apps slow down or not work at all on Macs. And it reminds admins that even when a Windows app works on a Mac, the app is completely different than its Windows counterpart -- its own separate support.

How the awk command works for Linux

Awk, an interpreted programming language, processes text files and makes each line of a file its own record. It then breaks the records into a sequence of fields. It creates a list of the pattern-action statements in each record and field. When the awk command notices a pattern, it stops and prompts the appropriate action. Awk comes in handy when admins have to transfer data between platforms and apps in Internet of Things projects.

Explore the Windows 10 Action Center

Readers were pulled in by the Action Center, a feature Windows 10 borrows from Windows Phone 8.1. Though not identical to its Windows Phone counterpart, the Action Center in Windows 10 performs a similar function -- it aggregates every notification users get so if they miss anything there is a central hub to find it. It also has tiles on the bottom of its interface that users can click on to activate shortcuts to toggle devices between laptop and tablet mode, for example.

To access the Action Center users click the icon that looks like a speech bubble on the bottom right of the Task Bar.

Three Mac management strategies

For IT admins to effectively manage Macs in the enterprise they must know how many Macs are in their organization, how much access each one requires and what tools they already have in place to manage Macs. Once admins have that information, there are three strategies they can use to manage Macs.

First, they can incorporate the Macs into the AD domain. Mac desktops and laptops come with a built-in client component to integrate with AD. Next IT can combine AD with third-party tools. Admins can use Apple Remote Desktop, for example, to push commands to Macs. Finally, admins can use the same tools they do to manage mobile devices to manage Macs.

Five steps to better Windows 8.1 security

Even though many users and IT admins would like to cast Windows 8.1 into the shadows, the reality is the OS is still present in many organizations. As a result, admins must keep track of each deployment. The first step is for admins to use Windows Server Update Services or a vulnerability scan to take a full inventory of the Windows 8.1 desktops in their organizations. Then they have to make sure each system is up to date on all its patches. Next, admins must include Windows 8.1 in their security policies, procedures and documented standards. Admins should also keep an eye on any security-related news from Microsoft to ensure they are on top of everything. Finally, admins must continuously run vulnerability scans with and without user authentication.

Mac Activity Monitor fills in for Windows Task Manager

The Mac Activity Monitor is Apple's equivalent to the Windows Task Manager. Admins can use it to assess a system's performance and identify any apps or processes slowing the system down. To find the Activity Monitor, admins must open the Applications/Utilities folder. Once open, the Activity Monitor shows a list of every process running on the Mac, including CPU, memory, disk and network usage.

Admins can also access historic CPU activity. In addition to the default information, admins can set the Activity Monitor to show the percent of CPU each process is using, the number of threads, number of ports and much more.

Next Steps

Guide to Windows 10 for IT admins for IT admins

Overview of working with Windows 10

What's new in Windows 10?

Dig Deeper on Windows 10