As highlighted by a recent OS adoption survey, Windows 7 remains the dominant Microsoft OS in use among businesses. According to the report, the percentage of each OS relative to the total number of machines it is running on hit 69% for Windows 7 machines.
Windows 7 also claims an 89% penetration rate, according to the same survey. However, mainstream support for Windows 7 ended on January 13, 2015 and extended support is planned to end on January 14, 2020. As such, businesses that are using the OS need to develop a game plan for moving on.
For many of those businesses, Windows 10 will be their destination. There are currently about 500 million monthly active users of Windows 10 (although many of those are likely consumers), according to the survey, and 71% of respondents said that it offers better performance than Windows 7.
But, the transition won't be easy. At a breakout session at the 2017 VMworld conference, VMware's Mark Margevicius shared the following 10 best practices for managing the migration.
1. Understand that this migration is really a transformation
The move to Windows 10 is a move to modern IT management, Margevicius said. Microsoft is tailoring and customizing the OS to the needs of the market, and it will change the way IT thinks about software updates and security patches. The biggest change is how the OS is delivered, as Microsoft will continually push updates. This shifts the thinking away from traditional PC management, as there are fewer on-premises needs and it requires more trust of Microsoft.
2. Realize that traditional PC management is expensive
Most organizations will spend between $2,800 and $4,500 per user in managing their Windows environment, Margevicius said, quoting Gartner data. Additionally, it can cost $1,930 per device to deploy a new OS version in a traditional manner. However, by moving away from complex imaging and other standard tools, Margevicius said, it can help lower costs. Margevicius encouraged users to move toward unified endpoint management for a better user experience, more visibility, and security.
3. Pick the right version of Windows 10
Windows comes in three distinct flavors, Margevicius said. For starters, the Windows Insider Preview (WIP) deploys new features right away and is targeted for enthusiasts. Although, it isn't for production.
The Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) provides new OS versions without all of the features. Updates only come down when they have to, based on security, and it includes very small changes. It is not for laptops or desktops, Margevicius said. This is for specialized devices.
Most companies will want the Semi-Annual Channel (SAC), Margevicius said. This is geared toward business computers for production and is designed to handle most common devices and applications. Each release in this channel is open for 18 months, but there are different phases for each release.
4. Put the right team together
You must put the right group of people together to have success in this migration, Margevicius said. Having a good project manager is critical, and businesses should come up with a plan that involves users, admins, and more.
5. Reduce complexity through standardization
High diversity of technology can equal high costs, Margevicius said. When updating, businesses should take the opportunity for a little spring cleaning to clean out apps and devices that are out-of-date, or that your organization no longer uses. It takes work up front, but it improves the management process in the long run.
6. Plan your work, then work your plan
Think of all contingencies in a migration and take the time to build plan before you begin the process. Additionally, Margevicius said, it is very important that admins and leader involve users to help them account for more potential roadblocks they may not have considered.
7. Learn the different approaches to a Windows migration
There are basically four ways to pursue a Windows migration, Margevicius said.
- A PC refresh is vendor-supplied and typically brings a warranty and clean OS, but it is also costly and could bring bloatware and an incomplete generic image.
- A full re-imaging gives the latest and greatest version of the OS on a tested image, but it's also time consuming.
- In-place upgrades are easy, quick, and non-disruptive, but they also deal with baggage from old machines.
- VDI gives a generic version of Windows that is controlled by IT, and is static and predictable, but it is costly and complex.
8. Embrace the new, eliminate the old
In order to fully take advantage of the features of Windows 10, users must be sure to move away from old tools and file types, as it won't be as efficient. For example, when working with a partition for an in-place migration, convert to UEFI and GPT, Margevicius said, and move away from BIOS and MBR, as they don't work well to fully utilize some of the security features in Windows 10.
9. Use simple application provisioning
By simplifying the application provisioning in your organization, admins can more easily deliver the apps that users need in a secure and managed way.
10. Embrace modern IT and UEM
By embracing modern IT practices and UEM, admins can better manage the Windows 10 devices in their charge—leveraging tools like MDM for Windows, configuration management, and OS patch management. Software distribution and client health and security should also be accounted for.
- Microsoft Universal Windows Platform Expert Bundle (TechRepublic Academy)
- Microsoft details tweaks to its Windows 7, 8.1 patch rollups (ZDNet)
- Windows 10: The smart person's guide (TechRepublic)
- Microsoft: Windows 7 in 2017 is so outdated that patches can't keep it secure (ZDNet)
- Five reasons not to upgrade to Windows 10 (TechRepublic)
Conner Forrest has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.