Microsoft is accelerating the update pace as organizations grapple with multiple Windows versions. Can you satisfy the user and keep up?
As Windows 7 approaches end of support, organizations are increasing the urgency with which they must complete their migrations to Windows 10. Yes, optional extended support was announced until 2023, but the price will be steep. It’s time to develop a plan to handle the ongoing updates from Microsoft. This is no small feat for most organizations, especially when user productivity and experience is critical to operational performance.
Windows 10 is a powerful OS for the mobile worker but ultimately users want access to their settings, files and data wherever they choose to work, and IT wants to ensure that devices remain secure and compliant with a great user experience, few service desk calls and minimal downtime. The issue is that, with Windows 10, Microsoft is moving to a much faster release cadence than IT has ever dealt with before – IT no longer has three to five years between major OS migrations. Instead, Windows 10 creates the unwelcome challenge of managing multiple Windows versions in parallel. This forces IT departments to literally be in a constant state of migration and in larger enterprises in particular, users will likely be using devices on different versions, as migrations are implemented across the estate, potentially causing application compatibility and user experience challenges.
This constant state of migration has other challenges: managing too many software components, avoiding service disruptions, enabling patch deployments and meeting increasing security requirements, as well as working to effectively support the numerous types of endpoints workers use today.
IT staff has two major tasks ahead: to minimize the impact of Windows 10 constant migration churn, while supporting the user experience needs of the organization’s workforce. Following are six steps to help IT get off the treadmill and more effectively manage the ever-changing Windows 10 environment.
- Inventory all software and hardware. This will help identify which endpoints are Windows 10 ready and is an important planning step to ensure that there are no migration surprises.
- Enact user profile management. To start, user settings and files should be backed up to ensure that users don’t lose productivity or suffer data loss. This is a particularly critical step for migrations that take a ‘wipe and load’ approach. Once data protection steps have been taken, extract user profiles, settings and files from the OS so that IT can fluidly move them between Windows versions. This will also allow for a more productive user experience, regardless of device, since the migration will be seamless to the user.
- Deploy automation to accelerate new OS. When defining what is required to roll out the OS, consider employing automated endpoint management which can package the OS, drivers and configurations for devices. It will assign packages to users and allow users to initiate the migration themselves with empowered self-service. Users are less resistant to migrations when they can select the time to upgrade, with a simple click.
Automation technology can also help by applying the image and user profiles to specific device types for the delivery of new machines with zero-touch. Another efficiency tool is to use time-saving templates that can minimize configuration steps and speed the process with less error.
- Package and install collections of software. Users are embracing multiple device types. Organizing software into packages will enable IT to efficiently roll out software that supports each type of device, groups and users. Windows 10 supports a wide variety of hardware, but that can also present increasing challenges as packages need to support user-related elements and machine-related elements. Plus, application packages must include binaries configurations and installation configurations. Consider too, the security peace-of-mind when applying privilege management controls. This will help maintain stronger security standards without impacting user productivity.
- Establish improved provisioning processes and timely patch management. While Windows 10 is reportedly more secure than its predecessors, it still must remain up to date to prevent hacking and malware intrusions. Take steps to improve provisioning, patching and software licence compliance processes so that future updates and migrations are more seamless.
- Monitor and report on rollout progress. Ensure that endpoints have been successfully migrated by using an automated solution that will report on migration successes and failures. Then automate the ongoing maintenance of Windows 10 so that IT can simplify troubleshooting, remediation and the removal and reinstalling of Windows 10 if required. Keep in mind, Windows 10 is truly in a constant state of migration. Up-to-date reporting will help greatly to pinpoint issues in the entire endpoint estate. It will help provide more thorough analytics to executive teams to determine allocation of IT staff time and resources, going forward.
These six steps will help IT staff fulfill the two main challenges of controlling the impact of Windows 10 updates, while in parallel, providing users with the flexibility, productivity and correctly user-profiled endpoints they need to be most productive. The result is a great user experience, giving users just what they need to do their jobs, coupled with the security and control IT needs to ensure both protection and compliance.
Once these steps have been embedded into the migration process, the IT organization can step off the constant migration treadmill and get back to contributing business value through more strategic projects.