Is it time to move to Windows 10?

10windowIt has been seven months since Microsoft released Windows 10. A report released by StatCounter last month shows that the number of devices running Windows 10 has surpassed devices running XP and Windows 8/8.1. Have you personally made the switch? Is your company ready to move to Windows 10?

Things to consider when making the decision to move to Windows 10

As far as new features go, Windows 10 offers faster performance and improved security features. Additionally, users may find Cortana (an intelligent personal assistant activated by voice or typed commands) and virtual desktops (something Mac users have had for years) to be nice new capabilities. Many people, myself included, like the improved Start menu, which is more like Windows 7. It’s a great improvement from the Windows 8 “experiment” of forcing users to use the modern, tile view.

Another reason to consider moving to Windows 10, sooner rather than later, is that upgrades to Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 Professional are free until July 29, 2016. At that point, Microsoft has hinted that they will charge for the upgrade. The cost will likely be $119 and $199 respectively.

Unfortunately, the most persuasive reason I’ve seen that Microsoft provides for why customers should move to Windows 10, is that support of Windows 7 and 8.1 will eventually end – and sooner than we would all want. Most companies are still stinging from the relatively painful process of getting all systems upgraded to Windows 7 or Windows 8 from Windows XP and Windows Vista. Most of the pain was felt by those who waited until the end to make the change. Microsoft lists Windows 7 support lasting until January 2020 and Windows 8.1 support lasts until January 2023. However, Microsoft recently announced that support for Windows 7/8.1 will only be provided on “modern” devices until July 17, 2017. Apparently you have to have older devices to be supported to the 2020 and 2023 dates.

 

Windows 10 Updates and Upgrades

Microsoft declared that Windows 10 will be “the last version of Windows” they will release. (If this is the case, then I am confused about why they have their end of support date as October 2025.) Changes to Windows will now be incremental upgrades to Windows 10, released 2-3 times per year. So far, Microsoft has held true to this by releasing the first major update/upgrade in November 2015 and reports are that the next update will come in March 2016.

Contrary to early rumors, Patch Tuesday still exists with Windows 10 – sort of. Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 Professional receive updates (fixes to critical bugs and security issues) on a random (Microsoft says “as needed”) basis. However, these updates are made available to Windows 10 Enterprise customers on a monthly basis, the second Tuesday of the month, the same time the same updates are made available to Windows 7 and 8.1.

Managing these updates and upgrades is going to require IT to be on top of their game. The size of the upgrades (Windows 10 version 1511 is 3GB) could cause a huge hit to your network, unless you have a good management tool and plan in place. LANDESK Patch Manager will not only allow you to control when and how to distribute the updates and upgrades, but also has industry leading technology that allows you to distribute large software packages, including patches, efficiently and in a bandwidth friendly way, without requiring extra servers in your enterprise.

Recommendations

If you haven’t already started planning for the upgrade to Windows 10, don’t put it off any longer. Create a migration plan today. The year 2020 will be here before we know it (and 2017 even sooner!). The plan should probably include a phased approach to the migration. Start by moving a few systems to Windows 10 immediately to test the compatibility of current business applications. These should be some of your newest systems, due to Microsoft’s plan to remove Windows 7/8.1 support in 2017 (mentioned above). Once the compatibility issues have been resolved, start migrating your systems by leveraging your hardware refresh cycle to bring Windows 10 systems into your environment. Additionally, use LANDESK Management Suite to simplify the Windows 10 migration of devices that need to be upgraded sooner. Windows 10 migration is a very manageable process with the right plan in place.