Actions you should start taking now to prepare for Windows 11

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Since the announcement of Windows 11 back in June, Microsoft’s new operating system (OS) has been generating a lot of attention – even more so now, coming off the heels of Microsoft Inspire last week, when Panos Panay, Microsoft’s Chief Product Officer, pointed out that now is the right time to introduce Windows 11.

Whether or not the introduction of Windows 11 was a surprise is up for debate. For many, the change came as a bit of a surprise, as back at its Ignite conference in 2015, Microsoft had indicated Windows 10 would be the last version of Windows. For others, though, it was clear that Microsoft had no choice but to improve upon the security of their OS given the emergence of new types of malware, ransomware, and other vulnerabilities out there. And what better way to reinforce your commitment to new ways of securing the OS than by giving it a new name?

Beyond the name, though, what’s really provoking debate are the new more demanding hardware requirements, particularly the need for a Trusted Platform Module 2.0 chip. Individuals and companies that purchased low-cost devices in 2020 to support a suddenly-remote workforce realized their still-new hardware may have had an older TPM chip – or none at all.

While the new hardware requirements seem to be dominating the headlines around Windows 11, keep in mind that there is no immediate deadline for Windows 10 users to upgrade. Microsoft has confirmed that Windows 10 will continue to be supported until 2025 – which means there is ample time to prepare. Organizations can take their time to plan a phased approach to introducing Windows 11 into their environments as they replace hardware as part of scheduled refreshes.

For many organizations, such refresh plans are already underway – and in many cases are being revised – due to the ongoing shortage in end user computing devices that first began last year.

Should you be doing anything now to prepare for the Windows 11 rollout this early?

To put our finger on the pulse of SHI customers, we conducted a straw poll on LinkedIn recently, asking what they were currently planning to do around readiness for Windows 11.

  • Just over half (51%) are in a ‘do nothing’ mode right now. This is entirely understandable given the recency of the announcement from Microsoft. However, that might not be the smartest move, as we’ll discuss shortly.
  • 32% of respondents are already thinking ahead, particularly about those tougher hardware requirements, and are looking at their existing devices to see which ones will need upgrading or replacing to support Windows 11.
  • 11% are already working with a partner like SHI to plan ahead.
  • 7% are actively considering Desktop as a Service solutions.

The big takeaway here is that there’s time to prepare. While it might make sense to hold off until we wait for more details, there’s still quite a lot you should be doing now in preparation, even if you don’t have an immediate migration plan.

What you must start thinking about now to prepare for Windows 11:

  1. The hardware fleet

As the clock ticks down to the holiday-season-2021 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. Start thinking about:

  • Your existing computers that will – and will not – support the upgrade
  • Whether it’s worth updating or not
  • What the hardware minimums are (recommended and realistic) and how to best navigate them
  • What training may/may not be required/recommended
  1. Budget priorities

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

And as companies spin up their budget planning process this summer, now is the time to better understand how the arrival of an entirely new Windows version will impact hardware maintenance and acquisition plans – and how you’ll pay for it all.

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.

  1. Software licensing

You’ll need to know if your software licensing is up-to-date. Ideally, this should be a regular IT activity, but all too often it’s not. And while this gap is a problem at any time, it’s especially problematic when a major operating system update looms, as licensing must be addressed before major platform/OS decisions/migrations are made.

On the plus side, it’s a prime opportunity to identify the unnecessary spending that often crops up over time when you’re so busy running the shop that you don’t forensically dig down into your licensing – and end up buying way more than you need. This is a once-in-many-years opportunity to drive budget efficiency and ensure maximum visibility into license compliance efforts. It also opens a window for IT to partner with the business on better understanding business forecasting and strategy.

  1. Tighter Teams integration

While Microsoft didn’t include this feature prominently in its June demo, it’s clear that Teams will be tightly baked into every aspect of the new operating system.

This has significant implications for organizations that both have and have not (i.e. maybe they’re using Zoom or Webex or some other video sharing/collaboration platform) standardized on Teams as their collaboration toolset of choice.

This would be important any time, of course: Microsoft’s decision to bundle certain apps into its operating systems can seriously influence what we use for years, and how. Internet Explorer stands out as a generational example. But it’s especially critical now after a year-plus of most of us working from home, and as companies everywhere plan their return-to-office (RTO) strategies.

As hybrid work styles become permanent parts of the work landscape, Teams integration becomes something that must be on IT’s radar – and you’ll want/need to get ahead of it before Windows 11 gets here.

  1. Consider virtual environments

The Windows 11 announcement contains a notable exception to the significant hardware requirements for virtualized instances. This means organizations running Windows on a virtual desktop using VDI technology or via DaaS can install or upgrade to Windows 11, even on older devices.

As workforces become more remote, many organizations are already making the shift to VDI as a way to extend computer hardware life.

  1. Adopt a hybrid environment to test Windows 11

If you’re not already doing so, you should start testing Windows 11 while still on Windows 10. Leading up to the release later this year, customers should be testing all of their Group Policy and Mobile Device Management (MDM) policies, applications, third party single sign-on (SSO) solutions, etc. Now more than ever, app testing is critical since there will no longer be a 32-bit version of Windows. If your organization has legacy apps, now is the time to determine how to retire those apps or find an alternative to leverage your legacy apps, such as VMware Workspace ONE.

While there’s still a lot of time left, this upgrade is one of those things you don’t want to leave until the last minute. The key to any successful transition is planning ahead, making sure you’re focused on addressing the right business priorities and outcomes all while making data-informed decisions to guide you through the process.

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.