This year, most organizations will make the move from Windows 7 or 8.1 to Windows 10. Gartner predicts that by the end of 2017, 85% of all enterprises will have at least started to deploy Windows 10 on their devices, with an eye to completing their migrations in 2019. It has been the fastest start in Windows history with over 270 million active devices in only eight months since launch, outpacing Windows 7 by 145% in the same timeframe.

Windows 10 certainly offers many advantages for corporate and enterprise users. It provides a single application model across all devices and a new way to secure devices and corporate data. For most businesses, security improvements are the main reason for the migration, the second most-often-named reason for the deployment is cloud integration capabilities. While the IT staff will like the security and management tools, the end users will enjoy the return of the Start menu and the unified platform for all devices (PC, tablet, phone or game console).

However, migration to a new OS is a significant project for many and although Microsoft has attempted to reduce the strain of rolling out Window 10, it remains a tricky job. Organizations should not wait too long before starting the migration project, as the deadline for Windows 7 support is set to January 2020 and the migration process can often take 18 months or more.

Overcoming the challenges: plan, inventory, monitor and analyze your success!

Organizations will face a number of significant challenges while performing mass migrations: training for end users, compatibility issues with both hardware and software assets and performance impacts. The central problem is the complexity of coordinating large numbers of disparate people and devices while ensuring controlled and secure OS deployments. Ultimately, if IT teams are facing negative user experiences associated with the migration process, or if they have end users who are already unhappy, this will negatively impact adoption Windows 10 and will also reflect badly on the IT Operations team responsible for deploying it. Let’s take a look at the impacts of the migration and some recommendations to streamline the process:

Work environment

Windows 10 is about user experiences rather than new features. It aims to present a common and scalable UX through a single OS that runs across a wide variety of devices while returning some level of control to users. The UX is supposedly intuitive and users will generally adapt with little or no training. But businesses will have to analyze the different features (e.g. revamped Cortana) to understand the security implications and whether they should enable or block them in a corporate setting. New policies should also be in place to separate business from personal data.

Budget

How much is it going to cost and do I have the budget? Even if the upgrade to Windows 10 will be free for most, it can still be costly, as the organization will spend time and money to test and deploy it. According to Forrester, businesses have spent $1,000 per user on average to upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7. While the cost of moving to Windows 10 will probably be smaller, it could still be a significant amount for any large company. What is more important, the application migration process was the most expensive part of that upgrade, and it will be a large investment this time as well. By budgeting and monitoring the quality of the service before, during and after the Windows migration, a company will be able to reduce costs and measure the success of the project.

Single application model on multiple devices

With Windows 10, Microsoft is expanding universal Windows apps by moving to a single merged store across all devices. It therefore wants to create new opportunities for enterprise developers, with the ability to extend legacy Win32 and .NET applications into the Windows app store. The preparation for migration should begin with a deep understanding of the organization’s resources and a full inventory of the assets is essential: both hardware (e.g. devices, model, CPU, memory, peripherals, etc.) and software assets (e.g. applications, drivers, patches, etc.) should be listed thoroughly and updated into the CMDB. This will be used to identify issues in compatibility, and help prioritize which system, service and task deployment activities should be performed first. Organizations should also work with the developers of critical applications to understand their intention for supporting Win32 and universal Windows apps in the future.

Emerging capabilities with new technologies

Windows 10 support a number of emerging capabilities for developers and enterprises to exploit over the next decade. For example, it is extending the Cortana personal assistant across the whole device landscape, providing a natural way to interact with applications and services. Also, Surface Hub, this wall-sized all-in one device, represents a new class of computing asset for Microsoft and will probably have a significant impact on how we think about meetings in the future. Finally, HoloLens is another example of Microsoft innovation on how we interact with computing. This new augmented reality computing device headset could replace multiple monitors in a workspace and enable virtual displays to pop up dynamically as needed. Organizations should explore the impacts that these new interaction models will have on office planning, application design and hardware procurement. They should brainstorm on how users should be equipped in the future and on applications to which innovative technologies could bring significant advantages as it matures and becomes more widespread.

Manually performing OS migrations on thousands of devices is simply not practical or cost-effective. A much more effective approach is to adopt an automated OS deployment that enables centralized configuration, scheduling and implementation of the new OS. Nexthink offers a Windows 10 Library Pack for you to plan and measure the success of the migration project. All phases of the migration are covered in the prebuilt dashboards which can be customized to suit your organization’s needs. This tool will help IT operations to control the migration centrally and get a rapid feedback on the productivity, device and application performances while monitoring closely the success of the process and business activities.

If you are looking for more practical advice and best practices from experts who have performed successful Window 10 migrations, watch our on-demand webinar Three Steps to a Worry-free Windows 10 Migration here. The session, featured Nexthink’s co-founder Vincent Bieri and Patric Kähli, System Manager at Bühler AG. During this webinar, they discussed how you can better plan, execute and measure a successful Windows 10 Migration with exclusive insights and useful tips from past experiences.