DirectAccess and Windows 10 Professional

Does Windows 10 Professional Support DirectAccess?

This is a question I’ve received on more than one occasion. For some reason there seems to be a persistent rumor on the Internet that Windows 10 Professional is now a supported client for DirectAccess. I’m not sure where this rumor got started, but I’ll put it to rest right now – Windows 10 Professional is NOT a supported DirectAccess client! DirectAccess still requires Enterprise edition (with two exceptions) to take advantage of DirectAccess for secure remote access.

Supported DirectAccess Clients

The following is a complete list (as of this writing) of client operating systems that support DirectAccess.

  • Windows 10 Enterprise
  • Windows 10 Education
  • Windows 8.1 Enterprise
  • Windows 7 Enterprise
  • Windows 7 Ultimate

DirectAccess and Windows 10 Professional

If you are running a version of Windows that is not Enterprise edition (with the exception of Windows 7 Ultimate and Windows 10 Education) DirectAccess will not work. Be careful, because you can still provision non-Enterprise SKUs such as Windows 10 Professional for DirectAccess. All of the DirectAccess settings will be applied without issue and everything will look perfectly normal, but DirectAccess won’t work. The telltale sign on Windows 8.x and Windows 10 clients is that you won’t be able to start the Network Connectivity Assistant (NCA) service (NcaSvc). When you attempt to do so you will receive the following error message:

Failed to start service 'Network Connectivity Assistant (NcaSvc)'

DirectAccess and Windows 10 Professional

Identify OS Version

You can verify the operating system SKU by looking at the output of systeminfo.exe or by going to the control panel under System and Security and clicking System.

DirectAccess and Windows 10 Professional

DirectAccess and Windows 10 Professional

Upgrade from Windows 10 Professional to Enterprise

A new feature introduced in Windows 10 allows you to easily upgrade the product SKU without having to perform an in place upgrade or reinstall the entire operating system from scratch. So, if you have Windows 10 Enterprise licenses and you want to upgrade a Windows 10 Professional device to Enterprise (for example you want to enable your new Surface Pro 4 to use DirectAccess!) you can simply provide the enterprise product license key in Windows 10 to upgrade. You can provide a new product key by navigating to Start | Settings | Update & Security | Activation | Change Product Key, or run changepk.exe from the Run dialog box or the command line.

DirectAccess and Windows 10 Professional

Enter your Windows 10 Enterprise product key and then click Start Upgrade.

DirectAccess and Windows 10 Professional

After the system reboots it will have been upgraded to Enterprise edition and now work as a DirectAccess client.

DirectAccess and Windows 10 Professional

DirectAccess and Windows 10 Professional
Summary

With Windows 10, it’s easy to upgrade from Professional to Enterprise edition by simply providing the Enterprise edition product key. This works great if you have just a few machines to upgrade, but if you are planning to upgrade many machines I would recommend creating a deployment package using the Windows Imaging and Configuration Designer (ICD), which is included with the Windows 10 Assessment and Deployment Kit (ADK) and can be downloaded here. Once you’ve upgraded your Windows 10 Professional devices to Windows 10 Enterprise you can begin provisioning them for DirectAccess!

DirectAccess consulting services now available! Click here for more details!

Leave a comment

16 Comments

  1. Andrew Terry

     /  January 12, 2016

    Hi Richard

    We use direct access with great success.
    We have just started exploring Windows 10 Phone and continuum. Is there anyway to connect a Windows 10 Phone to Direct Access?

    Many Thanks

    Andrew

    Reply
  2. christiankoffee

     /  January 19, 2016

    Dear Richard,

    if the DA server has a dual stack (v4 and v6), will DA work if the Windows client has a native v6 address? Assumed there is end to end v6 connectivity.

    Many thanks
    Christian

    Reply
    • If the DirectAccess server and client are both on the IPv6 Internet, in theory there should be no need for an IPv6 transition tunnel. However, in my limited testing, that hasn’t been the case. I’ll continue to test in the future as time permits, but if you have a different experience I’d like to know about it. 🙂

      Reply
  3. Justin

     /  January 22, 2016

    Hi Richard,

    We are curently using Windows 7 and DA and are looking at upgrading to Windows 10. We ordered a Surface Pro 4 which came with Win 10 Pro. I followed your advice and upgraded the key to one of our Win 10 Enterprise keys and it upgraded the OS fine. However, I’m still not able to see the DirectAccess tab in the Network and Internet settings area. I’m also unable to start the Network Connectivty Assistant. Any ideas why this would be?

    Reply
    • If you’re confident the upgrade to Enterprise edition was successful, the only thing I can think of is that the client did not receive the DirectAccess policies.

      Reply
  4. Cheers Richard – just what I needed! Took delivery of my new Surface Pro 10 minutes ago and was dreading having to reinstall off my Win10 Ent USB – thank god MS has given us a far easier upgrade path – about time! 😉

    Time from entering in my Enterprise key to complete = 3 minutes 😉

    Reply
  5. Mark

     /  September 13, 2016

    https://www.aurelium.be/media/260504/Windows_10_Compare_Editions.pdf

    More than a rumour. Any idea why the about turn? Been planning the implementation for months only to find our win 10 pro licences can’t give us DA

    Reply
    • Hi Mark. That must be a mistake. I’ve heard no plans for Microsoft to support DirectAccess in Windows 10 Professional. I’ll follow up with them and do some testing just to confirm though. Have to admit, it would be great if Pro supported DirectAccess!

      Reply
  6. Mark

     /  September 13, 2016

    Sorry – it’s late here and I shouldn’t have posted my previous question about the origin of the rumour without saying hi and thanking you for the great info on your site.
    Mark

    Reply
  7. James Broxton

     /  June 8, 2017

    Hi Richard, struggling to find any documentation to suggest if Direct access will work with a Thin Client installed with Win 10 IOT enterprise. any ideas? Will be on Server 2016 also.
    James

    Reply
    • Hi James. According to Microsoft’s web site, Windows 10 IoT is the “binary equivalent to Windows 10 Enterprise”. With that, it should support DirectAccess. However, I’ll download the evaluation version and do some testing just to confirm. 🙂

      Reply
    • FYI, I just downloaded the evaluation version of Windows 10 IoT Enterprise and it’s just Windows 10 enterprise. With that, it should support DirectAccess. 🙂

      Reply
  1. Top 5 DirectAccess Troubleshooting Tips | Richard M. Hicks Consulting, Inc.

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