Windows 11 is here: Is your software licensing up to date?

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In an ideal world, your organization would always be running the latest version of each approved software application in your environment, enabling your end users to take advantage of the latest feature sets – and providing some semblance of comfort to your IT team.

Unfortunately, there’s often a gap between the software releases and corporate adoption – and this lag is magnified when a major operating system like Microsoft Windows is updated. While the introduction of Windows 11 is a boon to the current technology landscape, it’s also a reminder that your organization needs to review and address software licensing prior to making major OS decisions – because when your licensing is up to date, you know you’re receiving up-to-the-minute security patches to guard against threats.

This is an ideal time to identify and eliminate the unnecessary spending that often builds up over time. Your IT team is tasked with a slew of more urgent priorities, and it’s easy to skip the forensic analysis of your licensing and just renew – but this often results in bloated expenditures that you don’t need, chipping away at your budget for actual necessities. The Windows 11 launch should serve as a reminder that reviewing your licensing compliance often brings the overall costs down, enabling you to direct those funds elsewhere.

Windows 11 licensing impacts: What you need to know

Windows 11 is available now as a free upgrade for eligible Windows 10 PCs and on new PCs. To check if your current Windows 10 PC is eligible for the free upgrade to Windows 11, visit Windows.com to download the PC Health Check app.

If your device is not yet eligible, don’t worry – eligibility will expand based on factors such as hardware eligibility, device age, and reliability metrics. By mid-2022, Microsoft expects all eligible devices to be offered this upgrade opportunity, and they are working with hardware manufacturers to ensure any Windows 10 PCs you buy today are ready for the upgrade to Windows 11.

For volume licensing customers who use Windows Enterprise, additional licensing upgrades will be necessary. However, if you have active Software Assurance on your Windows Desktop OS licensing, an active Windows E3/E5 subscription, or an M365 suite bundle that includes Windows Desktop OS, you will be entitled to upgrade to Windows 11 Enterprise upon general availability.

Windows 11 lifecycle changes from Windows 10

Windows 11 will have an annual feature update cadence, a change from the semi-annual schedule of Windows 10. The OS feature updates are slated for release in the second half of the calendar year and will come with 24 months of support for Home, Pro, Pro for Workstations, and Pro Education editions.

Windows 11 will also come with 36 months of support for Enterprise and Education editions, continuing to provide additional time and flexibility for the validation and at-scale deployments common on these editions.

Still on the fence about the move? You have options

If you’re happy with Windows 10 and experiencing some doubts about the unknown landscape of a new operating system, we have good news. Microsoft has made a virtual “undo” button available to you, which should offer some peace of mind.

Here’s how it works: once you have upgraded to Windows 11, you’ll have ten days to move back to Windows 10 while keeping files and data that you brought along with you. After that ten-day period, you will need to back up your data and do a “clean install” to move back to Windows 10.

And if your concerns are linked to older hardware, you don’t have to worry about being abandoned by the OEM just yet. SHI is already helping customers map out their device planning and training strategies so businesses can continue to equip their users for success into 2022 and beyond – but for organizations with older PCs that cannot be upgraded to Windows 11, sticking with Windows 10 is the right choice until you’re ready to purchase new end user devices. Microsoft will support Windows 10 through October 14, 2025.

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.

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