Software

Having trouble upgrading to Windows 10? Microsoft releases free tool to ease the way

With reports that the majority of businesses still run Windows 7, Microsoft releases a free service to make it easier for firms to avoid upgrade problems.

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Microsoft released Windows Upgrade Analytics this week.

Image: Microsoft

Windows 10 may be running on some 400 million computers, but many businesses are happy staying on Windows 7 for the time being.

To persuade firms to make the shift to Windows 10, Microsoft yesterday released the Windows Upgrade Analytics tool.

Upgrade Analytics is a free cloud service that companies can use to gather data on the hardware and software used by Windows PCs within their IT estate.

The service offers a dashboard that shows which apps and drivers are compatible with Windows 10 and suggests remedies to fix any problems. That dashboard can identify which apps are the most heavily-used or business critical, so admins can prioritize testing and updating the most important software.

SEE: Microsoft Ignite: Nadella outlines 4 pillars for democratizing AI

"Using machine learning and our knowledge of known issues that we keep track of, we can not only show you which devices have issues, but we can also suggest remediations that can be performed to resolve those issues, well in advance of the actual upgrades," said Rob Lefferts, Microsoft's partner director of program management at the firm's Ignite conference yesterday.

Data is gathered from Windows 7 and 8.1 machines, provided those machines have opted into data collection.

Upgrade Analytics has been piloted by more than 500 Windows 10 customers so far, including The Daimler Group and Ryder Systems.

"Microsoft is trying to go as far as it possibly can in providing large enterprises with confidence that Windows 10 will be worthy of the time and money they spend as part of that migration,"said Richard Edwards, principal research analyst with Ovum, adding the data gathered by the service would help firms drawing up business cases for moving to Windows 10.

"They want to reduce the uncertainties and remove much of the project overspend that often accompanies these refreshes. To do that you need to have a comprehensive view of whether you current estate can take advantage of Windows 10 Enterprise."

The service should help increase the speed at which large firms migrate to Microsoft's latest OS, he said.

"The more confident you are in what lays down the road ahead, then, the quicker you can go."

As many organizations still rely on older versions of Internet Explorer for compatibility with internal sites and web apps, Upgrade Analytics will also inventory which sites used on the corporate network are currently accessed using IE, allowing for these web apps to be tested for compatibility with Microsoft browsers in Windows 10.

Microsoft was bullish about the popularity of Windows 10 at the Ignite conference yesterday, saying that Windows 10 adoption rate is "150 percent faster" than that of Windows 7.

There's less data on how many of those machines running Windows 10 are business PCs, with Microsoft claiming 22 million devices were running the Enterprise and Education editions at the beginning of the year and more recently highlighting large deployments, such as the four million devices being upgraded at the US Department of Defense.

However, unofficial figures have been less rosy, with a recent study by Softchoice finding that less than one percent of Windows PCs inside firms were running Windows 10, with the bulk using Windows 7.

Analyst houses Gartner and Forrester predict that many enterprises will begin the upgrades to Windows 10 in earnest next year.

However, Ovum's Edwards also highlighted that companies have a much broader range of non-Microsoft computing devices to choose from today — ranging from the iPad Pro to Chromebooks and Macs.

"The vast majority of organizations will always take a major shift forward in technology as an opportunity to reflect whether or not they want to progress down that route," he said.

"Going from Windows 7 to Windows 10 will be easier than from Windows XP to 7, but, of course, Microsoft is now going up against much stiffer competition."

Read more on Microsoft and Ignite

About Nick Heath

Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic. He writes about the technology that IT decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.

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