How organizations can facilitate a fast, cost-effective migration to Windows 10

After years of security issues and a succession of new Windows operating systems, extended support for the latest Windows 7 will end in January 2020, having already ended mainstream support on January of 2015. Microsoft is officially phasing users out of all its older operating systems based on a fixed calendar. To make its case for Windows 10, Microsoft is hyping the benefits of enhanced security, broad device choices, higher user productivity and lower cost of ownership with improved management capabilities.

The initial migration wave has been a little rocky. The corporations and government agencies that have already made the jump to Windows 10 lacked the internal resources, tools or expertise to facilitate a fast, cost-effective migration. This left IT departments scrambling to find a means to seamlessly transfer all user profiles, data and applications, while having to test the new OS for legacy compatibility and deployment. The challenges with that initial rush and the bad taste users already had with previous operating systems created a lot of bad buzz around Windows 10.

Recent reports state that the number of systems running Windows 10 has plateaued at 400 million over a four month span – leveling out around the end of the free upgrade campaign. Many attributed the slow growth to a lack of control over automatic updates or legacy application support. Today, Windows 10 is running on 500 million monthly active devices; however, this is still short of the company’s goal of reaching 1 billion devices by 2018. Concerns with Windows 10 still remain even though the reality is that it represents the very best in a modern operating system. Let’s take a look at some of these concerns and see if they hold any weight.

Who Needs Control When You Have IT?

On an enterprise level, one common misbelief is that organizations do not have any control over when OS downloads and installations happen. Microsoft now services Windows 10 in two ways – quality and feature updates. The quality update is a single, all-encompassing update which overwrites previous updates with security fixes. Feature updates are targeted twice per year with new capabilities and built-in rollback capabilities; however, these updates scare organizations the most because of the misconception you cannot control which feature updates are pushed out and when. Contrary to the public perception, organizations do have a say when their PCs receive these updates. To avoid the headache of unplanned end user downtime, IT admins have the option of telling Windows 10 when these updates get deployed simply by using Group Policy.

It’s still important that these updates happen though. You wouldn’t go weeks ignoring the brake light on your dashboard, but unlike changing the brake pads to your car you don’t have to go into an auto repair shop when installing OS updates. Windows enables organizations to set update times that works best with their end user’s schedule and IT departments have the autonomy and access to make these changes.

Breaking The Habit Of A Legacy Breakdown

Another common fear associated with migrating to Windows 10 is that every PC make/model and application must be tested for compatibility, as Windows 7 required for former Windows XP users. This has raised red flags in the IT community with pundits saying that IT organizations don’t have the time or resources to support software compatibility tests. In reality, Microsoft worked to ensure backwards compatibility with both Windows 7 and 8/8.1

While there are new features in Windows 10 that require updated hardware, enterprises can rest assured that if an application or tablet, laptop or desktop is fully supported on Windows 7, there’s a very strong chance that it will run perfectly on Windows 10. In the cases that it doesn’t, it’s probably not the operating system’s fault but rather the hardware or software itself is antiquated. Enterprises today are delaying their upgrades thinking it’s necessary to replace their legacy applications before migrating when that is simply not the case across the board.

Just What The Doctor Ordered

A misconception in IT circles has been that migrating operating systems can be a disruptive transition, and that Microsoft has fallen short of making that process easier. When it comes to building almost anything, sometimes it’s a matter of having the right tools for the job and in the case of a major IT migration there are tools available even for that job.

Just last year the Defense Department announced it would deploy Windows 10 by January 2018 to strengthen cybersecurity and streamline its IT environment. This was in response to a rare government mandated order to migrate to the latest operating system as a security precaution. For this initiative, World Wide Technology (WWT) has been invited to participate in several Windows 10 migration proofs of concept and pilots for multiple Defense Department organizations looking to safely accelerate their Windows 10 migrations worldwide.

To get a head start on the government mandate, a large federal health organization wanted to perform the migration as easily, painlessly and cost-effectively as possible. As an already trusted technology partner, WWT partnered with end-point security provider Tanium to provide a secure, automated Windows 10 migration solution with CPMigrator®, a fully portable, enterprise-class software solution WWT created to accelerate the adoption of modern Windows operating systems and devices. The Tanium addition saved time and money on what would normally require a large deployment labor force. And thanks to WWT’s long history of supporting complex Windows migrations, we built a layer of intelligence into CPMigrator® by which the tool itself can quickly catch and resolve common errors without having to involve IT or the end user to resolve it. Maintaining user profiles, data, personalization settings and more, WWT is actively migrating over 200,000 PCs to Windows 10, all meeting NSA and U.S. Cyber Command compliance standards, including BIOS and disk requirements (UEFI and GPT).  Taking all these factors into consideration, CPMigrator® is able to shave hours off migration times. In the span it would take for an employee to take a long lunch he or she can be up and running on Windows 10.

In addition to software tools, WWT has built an entire collaborative ecosystem to design, build, educate, demonstrate and deploy new technologies like Windows 10 in a safe and controlled environment. The Advanced Technology Center provides hands-on access to engineering experts who can architect and validate a complex solution before implementing it into a company’s environment. The Integrated Technology Center, a 45,000 square foot distribution center, provides a production class environment for imaging, configuring, asset tagging, staging and kitting PCs on a mass and global scale. As a Gold Microsoft Windows and Devices and Data center partner, WWT provides end-to-end Windows 10 deployment services, including discovery, architecture, readiness, engineering and deployment, along with PC lifecycle and workplace transformation services.

Customers and partners have come to rely on WWT to integrate and implement for them the latest IT innovations, and Windows 10 is the gateway to that innovation. We’ve made migration projects a priority and in that amount of time we’ve seen a notable increase in end-user satisfaction arising from the control and visibility we have given them. As Microsoft begins to phase out its extended support of Windows 7 by January 2020, businesses can rest assured that there are people and solutions out there that will get them to the promise land of Windows 10.