Answering the 7 most common questions about Windows 10 deployment

7 frequently asked questions about Windows 10 deploymentWindows 10 is marching toward global adoption. Microsoft announced in January that more than 200 million devices around the world were on Windows 10. And just a few weeks ago, the Department of Defense announced it will transition 4 million machines across all defense agencies to Windows 10 by January 2017.

But a Windows 10 deployment doesn’t always come free of challenges or decisions. In fact, we’re hearing a lot of the same questions from organizations in the middle of a deployment. These organizations are all wondering if they’re in the same boat – are others concerned about Skylake? What’s the best way to wrestle unmanaged devices?

So here are the answers to the seven most common questions we’re being asked about Windows 10 deployments.

1. What does the Skylake announcement mean for me? The Skylake announcement is certainly pushing organizations toward Windows 10. To put it briefly, Windows 7 and 8.1 running on the latest processors (that were codenamed Skylake) will only receive critical security support after July 17, 2018. Failing to transition to Windows 10 will leave your organization at risk of noncompliance as well as reliability and security shortfalls. Although Microsoft developed a patch to address the problem, it also recently announced a specific list of hardware products for which it would support these previous versions of Windows through the date above.

2. What do I need to know about licensing? We’ve written about Windows 10 volume licensing in the past, and it’s still a major consideration for many organizations. But one piece of this licensing puzzle that organizations should consider is how to handle free versions of Windows 10.

Microsoft dangled a carrot in front of IT – a free copy of Windows 10 Pro – to help spur adoption. But this free license stays with the device, and only that device.

If a laptop with this free copy fails, the license is moot. This may not sound like a big deal, but if 100 devices were eligible for a free license, that means an organization will be responsible for 100 additional licenses in the future. That’s why organizations shouldn’t install Windows 10 on an older device nearing its end of life.

3. What servicing model do I need? Organizations choose their service model when upgrading to Windows 10. But many don’t know if Current Branch or Current Branch for Business is best for them, or if Long-Term Servicing Branch (LTSB) is the right choice.

Here’s the major difference between the three: LTSB is a separate edition of Windows 10 that is stripped of many features that are standard in every other version. That’s because it’s a service model for critical machines that need 100 percent uptime, such as devices in hospitals or air traffic control towers. LTSB does receive security updates, but all feature updates for universal applications are excluded because the service model lacks those applications, like Mail, News, and Money.

On the other hand, all universal apps are supported through Current Branch for Business. As part of this model, organizations can defer updates, giving IT the chance to test them on a small number of machines. However, organizations running Current Branch cannot delay updates.

Determine which service model fits for your organization by studying your environment and how applications, features, and security upgrades are performed. Consider how OS images are deployed. If you’re using a system management tool, examine its performance and what improvements you desire.

4. What do I do about unmanaged devices? If there are unmanaged devices in your environment – any hardware not connected to your domain (don’t worry, we all have them) – complete an application inventory. IT will only struggle with Windows 10 deployments if they go into them blind, unaware of what rogue applications are being used and where data is being stored.

There are many tools, such as Microsoft’s Intune, that will conduct an application inventory. Once an inventory is complete, begin migrating those unmanaged devices into your IT environment. After all unmanaged devices are folded in, you can determine how many devices need to be updated as part of the full Windows 10 deployment. It’s also a good opportunity to reconsider device policies and procedures.

5. Will my applications work on Windows 10? The short answer is most likely. To be sure, conduct application compatibility testing before deploying Windows 10.

Application compatibility is critical to know, as it’s unwise to start a company-wide deployment and then learn an application doesn’t work. Before a full transition, IT should do small-scale testing, which will help determine what applications work, what needs SKUs, and what may require a call to the vendor to check on compatibility.

Conducting an application inventory will also help pare down unnecessary applications in your environment (typically, organizations can retire 60 to 70 percent of their application roster and continue business as usual). It’s also wise to determine where the application will live; is it deployed locally or can it be hosted in the cloud? Is it supported by you or the vendor?

6. Do I need to do a full wipe and reload for every machine? I was always a “full wipe and reload” believer, but Windows 10 is a different story. Microsoft engineers optimized Windows 10’s architecture for in-place upgrades. In fact, an in-place deployment is recommended and is considered a best practice, since it will be the method in which Windows 10 delivers all updates in the future.

7. How much end-user training will be necessary? No question, end-user training is always a good idea. Learning the intricacies of a new operating system is usually difficult, and users often become frustrated when they aren’t trained. Because many organizations will be migrating from Windows 7 to the newest operating system, it’s important to train the entire IT staff and department leaders so their knowledge trickles down to the rest of your employees.

Another consideration is your hardware. Remember, Windows 10 has a touch component, so if employees are using hardware with a touch interface, they should be trained on that capability. IT should consider using outside help to build training guides for every level of employee, especially if there is touch-enabled hardware in the environment. Remember, you don’t want your users turning on their computer on Monday morning and have to learn Windows 10 from scratch.

What other questions do you have about moving to Windows 10? Leave a comment below, or contact your SHI representative today.

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