Get your Windows 11 upgrade budget priorities in order now
Even if Microsoft’s newest OS doesn’t cost you a penny, you still need to have a solid plan in place

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Once you’ve figured out whether Windows 11 is going to be in scope for you and your organization* you’ll need to work it into your IT budget.

And as you embark on your budget planning process, now is the time to better understand how the introduction of an entirely new version of Windows into your environment will impact hardware maintenance and acquisition plans – and how you’ll pay for it all.

You can probably get Windows 11 for free

You’re not dreaming: if your current end user devices have Windows 10 installed, or if you have just purchased new PCs, the upgrade to Windows 11 is complimentary. However, not all devices running Windows 10 are capable of receiving the Windows 11 upgrade. To check if your current Windows 10 PC is eligible for the free upgrade to Windows 11, visit Microsoft’s Windows 11 home page to download the PC Health Check app.

Not sure which version of Windows your organization is using? Windows 10 was released in July 2015, so if you’ve purchased new end user hardware in the past six years, your organization is likely eligible to make the move to Windows 11 right now.

Unfortunately, the free Windows 11 upgrade offer from Microsoft only applies to hardware that already had Windows 10 installed. If you’re still relying on an older version of Windows, it’s likely time for a hardware upgrade, too.

For Volume Licensing customers who use Windows Enterprise, additional upgrade licensing will be necessary. But if you have active Software Assurance on your Windows Desktop OS licensing – that is, an active Windows E3/E5 subscription or an M365 suite bundle that includes Windows Desktop OS – you will be entitled to Windows 11 Enterprise.

Adjacent costs to keep in mind

Once you’re ready to migrate to Windows 11, keep in mind that there are a slew of additional costs that may apply to your organization. Even if the actual operating system upgrade doesn’t show up as a line item on your budget, you’ll need to account for the following potential expenditures:

  • Outdated hardware. Even if your end user devices are eligible for the Windows 11 upgrade, now is a good time to take stock of your refresh timelines. How old are your laptops and PCs? Does it make sense to invest in new hardware instead of updating the OS on machines that are slated to be retired within the next 12 months?
  • Incompatible software. You may find that some of the mission-critical applications your end users rely on to conduct business are not compatible with Windows 11. Or if they are, you’ll need the most current version. You’ll want to compile a list of all the software your employees use, and research where each title stands with regards to Microsoft’s new OS.
  • Tools that rely on Internet Explorer. After more than twenty years, Internet Explorer is being retired in favor of Microsoft Edge. The legacy browser will be gone for good in June 2022, and with that expiration date nearing, it isn’t even included with Windows 11. If you have any internal tools that rely on Internet Explorer, you’ll need to make alternate arrangements to perform these functions.
  • Migration technicians. Who will perform the migration to Windows 11? Your own technicians? Contractors? A service provider? If you have a sizable end user fleet, there may be significant expenses incurred during your migration period for these services.
  • End user training. Once Windows 11 is installed on everyone’s machine, you may want to invest in end user training. A new operating system requires relearning how to perform certain functions, and you may find it worthwhile to offer a virtual tutorial, rather than leaving your employees to flounder while they get used to the new look and feel of their computers.

Bottom line: It’s never too early to prepare for Windows 11, or to figure out how it will influence your hardware, software, and training spend.

Our experts are here to help you plan, purchase, deploy, train, and manage your way through this significant update. Contact us today or reach out to your SHI Account Executive for guidance and support as your organization maps out a route to Windows 11.

*Hint: yes! Because even if you’re not refreshing your entire laptop fleet with new-build Windows 11 machines, you’ll need a game plan, and you’ll need to communicate it to stakeholders who are already asking for guidance