What is Windows Autopilot?

Simplify and streamline IT configuration and employee onboarding with Windows Autopilot.  

By Calvin Engen, Chief Technology Officer

Image - What is Windows Autopilot?

If you’ve recently onboarded a new employee, this scenario might sound familiar: it’s Monday morning and they’ve just arrived, ready to work, but HR forgot to let IT know the new hire’s start date. The employee’s computer is sitting in its box on their desk. Even with advance notice, it takes IT about a day, and sometimes longer, to get a company’s machine set up to business standards with all the necessary applications installed. But it doesn’t have to be that way. And you may already own the solution; you just didn’t know what it was or hadn’t activated your subscription. It’s called Autopilot, and it’s one of the easiest ways to streamline onboarding, as well as update software on all employees’ devices, whether you own them or not. Plus, your new employee can unbox their new computer themselves, and be up and running with two clicks of a button, and in just a few hours’ time.



Windows Autopilot is a collection of technologies used to set up and pre-configure new devices, getting them ready for use. It can also be used to reset a computer, repurpose a device for a new employee, recover lost data, or install new software or updates, even remotely.



Every computer has a special identifier. We take that identifier and put it up into Microsoft Intune, a mobile device manager. Then, using Autopilot, we create an out-of-the-box experience for the end-user. While you’re booting up the machine, you enter your email address, which is tied to your business domain. Now the computer knows it is a part of a specific company and proceeds to push the company’s particular group of settings and programs to the new machine.


This individualized setup is pre-configured by F12 (or your internal IT department) and tailored to your company’s needs, each department’s needs or each individual’s needs. So when a new member on the finance team enters their email address, Autopilot will ensure that they have the complete finance set up, with everything they need (and have permission to access) and nothing they don’t. Do they also need access to design software even though no one else in finance has that software? No problem. It’s all completely customizable with just a few clicks.



The setup time depends on the number of applications—but a typical setup takes about an hour. If your configurations are particularly complex, it could take three to four hours—half the time it might take an IT department. Equally as important as this huge time-saver, however, is the resource-saver: now that the end user can onboard their work applications and settings on their own by simply typing in their email address, your IT team or provider can focus their attentions on actual tech “problems” — not time-consuming routine tasks, like manually deploying software to end-users.



Aside from the significant time savings, Autopilot helps maintain better consistency across your company’s devices. By eliminating the possibility of introducing human error (one technician configuring all the devices manually one at a time), devices are set up once—correctly. Plus, there’s no physical back and forth between employee and IT department, whether it’s walking up a set of stairs, or shipping the computer across the city or country for remote workers. As well, Autopilot addresses the issue of “compliance drift”, which refers to a device moving slowly out of business compliance over time, whether due to troubleshooting or new applications being introduced. Autopilot detects these incompatibilities, and your IT provider can correct them with a couple of clicks, remotely, while your staff continues to work uninterrupted.



If you’re a current F12 client, we’re happy to assess your constantly evolving IT needs and let you know if you’re currently on a subscription that includes Autopilot—or if you should change plans to make sure you have access to it.

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