4 steps to prepare for the Windows 11 hardware fleet

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It’s no surprise that Microsoft’s rollout of Windows 11 is still sweeping the headlines, particularly now as the new operating system will first become available in a few short weeks. Windows 11 will begin rolling out October 5 to eligible Windows 10 PCs, and PCs that come pre-loaded with Windows 11 will start to become available for purchase.

So, what does that mean for devices that have been deemed non-eligible?

We briefly tackled the topic of the new hardware requirements and recommended to start seriously thinking about the hardware fleet as the first action item you should take when preparing for the rollout. A straw poll we conducted on LinkedIn back in July showed that just over half were in a ‘do nothing’ mode at the time – likely since it was so close to the time of the Windows 11 announcement – while 31% of respondents were already thinking ahead, particularly about the tougher hardware requirements, and were looking at their existing devices to see which ones will need upgrading or replacing to support Windows 11.

While you may have time, now is not the time to wait

While Windows 10 will continue to be supported until 2025, it’s clear that you shouldn’t wait to replace hardware as part of scheduled refreshes. If the last year-and-a-half has taught us anything, it’s that we need to do everything we can now to prepare for the unexpected. What we do know is that we’re still navigating a global chip shortage, which is expected to persist into 2022. We’re also unsure of what next year will look like – we could very well be in the same situation that we’re in now where we need to get hardware orders in at least 18-20 weeks in advance of desired in-hands date.

The best advice we can give for organizations looking to prepare the hardware fleet for Windows 11 is to look further down the road and really consider what you’re going to do – and how you’re going to get there. The good news is moving to Windows 11 is easier than moving from Windows 7 to 10. On approved hardware running Windows 10, the upgrade to Windows 11 will be similar to a feature update for Windows 10. And with a coordinated plan to upgrade existing hardware to move to Windows 11, you will benefit from advanced security during a period of emerging malware, ransomware, and vulnerability threats.

For the move to Windows 11, think of the minimum required TPM 2.0 chip as Fort Knox – the security chip that holds all the important keys. With Windows 10, you could have any version of TPM, and Microsoft didn’t have standardization in place. Now that’s all about to change, bringing better security to protect both consumer and business workloads from sophisticated malware and threats.

So, as the clock ticks down to the debut of Windows 11, corporate fleet managers can’t afford to ignore the upcoming changes to hardware purchasing, upgrades, and maintenance that this major update will drive.

Four steps to prepare for the Windows 11 hardware fleet

Begin to strategize a phased approach to introducing Windows 11 into your environments by considering these four steps:

Step 1: Forecast what devices will, and will not, meet the hardware requirements

Once you become familiar with the minimum hardware requirements for Windows 11, we recommend running the Windows 11 readiness application using the PC Health Check App to see if your existing devices meet the requirements.

  • Download the PC Health Check App
  • Scan the system
  • Identify whether the device is compatible to run Windows 11

The same goes for the devices you plan to buy. For many organizations, they’ve already identified the device they plan on rolling out for the next three years. If it doesn’t meet the requirements, deviate now and course correct. You’ll need to start purchasing other devices that do meet the requirements, and you’ll need to do it sooner rather than later.

Step 2: Actively plan your device refresh

For the reasons mentioned above – coupled with supply chain challenges and the skyrocketing demand for end-user computing devices as a result of hybrid and remote working models – you should act now to replace and upgrade your hardware. Look 3-5 years down the road and make sure you’re thinking about your business priorities. For example, think about how many people you might be hiring, when you anticipate fully moving over to Windows 11, and work backwards to make sure you get your orders in time. Wait times for any device right now are incredibly lengthy – we’re advising our customers to order 6-9 months in advance to be on the safe side.

SHI works closely with our customers to help overcome device shortages where we can, and to help cope with them where we cannot. Working closely with our experts in hardware, configuration, and end-user computing, we have compiled a simple four-step plan for organizations who are considering their device refresh program.

Step 3: Identify training opportunities

Think about how quickly you’ll want to adopt Windows 11 across your organization. With a significantly different user experience, chances are there will be a learning curve for your end users. Consider working with a partner to host Windows 11 readiness workshops to get your users comfortable with all the new features and how they can leverage the new operating system to empower productivity.

Step 4: Consider enrolling in the Windows 11 Insider Program

To give your users a bit of a head start, you could consider enrolling in the Windows 11 Insider Program for Business using devices that currently meet the hardware requirements. This allows you to begin testing your management and applications and gives you a chance to see if everything is working correctly. For example, with the introduction of new security features in Windows 11, you can see if your current security applications work under Windows 11 and work with SHI to get an understanding as to whether or not you need certain security software.

Another benefit to this is the Windows 11 Inside Program for business has a feedback hub for certain features that Microsoft can look at, which gives customers the opportunity to have a voice in Windows 11.

Following feedback from the Windows 11 Insider community and various testing, Microsoft ended up making a small number of additions to the compatible processor list and identified a set of PC models that meet the principles while running on Intel 7th Gen processors that they had not originally included in their minimum system requirements.

While Windows 10 will continue to be supported until 2025, the time is now to prepare for Windows 11, and 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.

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 transitions to Windows 11.