Eleven months—that’s the amount of time organizations running Windows 7 have to migrate to Windows 10. On Jan. 14, 2020, Microsoft will end support for the operating system—it will no longer provide bug fixes, critical security patches, updates or other support.1
Considering what goes into an OS upgrade, 11 months is not much time at all. OS migrations are always complicated endeavors but moving to Windows 10 is different. It’s more transformation than migration—Windows 10 marks the beginning of a new servicing model, “Windows as a service,” which provides security and reliability fixes at least once a month, plus smaller feature updates two times per year. Organizations must take action now.
With migrations, especially to Windows 10, proper planning is key to project success. Here’s an overview of what to expect:
- Choosing releases and managing update cycles. One of the first steps in a Windows 10 migration—wrapping the brain around “Windows as a service”—may just be the hardest. It requires organizations to change the way they approach deploying updates. It will take time and help from experts for business leaders to determine what works best for their organization—and to learn how servicing branches, deployment rings, feature updates, quality updates, out-of-band updates, Patch Tuesdays, and B, C, and D releases all work together.2
- Conducting extensive testing, running pilots and collecting feedback. Ensuring the applications people rely on are compatible with the new version is critical. In previous Windows versions, this kind of testing was one-and-done. With continuous servicing of Windows 10, it will be an ongoing process.
- Taking care of users throughout the entire process. Communication, training and support are key to ensuring Windows 10 migration success—before, during and after a migration, and before, during and after every update. Users must know what changes are coming and when, how the new OS will affect their work processes, where they can get training and support, and how they can use the software to be more productive and innovative. Notable differences between Windows 7 and Windows 10 include:
- Start menu: When Microsoft removed the Start menu in Windows 8, riots nearly broke out on message boards across the world. Microsoft was paying attention—it brought the feature back in Windows 10 and expanded and improved its functionality. Today’s Start menu includes supercharged search, voice controls, live tiles, and many customization options.
- Microsoft Edge: Internet Explorer is (nearly) dead! Long live Microsoft Edge! Edge is the default web browser on Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile, replacing IE 11 and IE Mobile. For people who have used IE since it was first released in 1995, this change could be jarring. With a bit of guidance, however, they can get up and running with Edge quickly.
- Settings in general: Other notable differences include changes to settings—in the control panel, for wireless networks, for domains, and more.
Migrating from Windows 7 to Windows 10 is, without a doubt, a major undertaking. Planning the rollouts, running pilots and testing, deploying the new OS, and training users can take six months to a year to complete. January 2020 will creep up quickly. Will your organization be ready?
Photo by Ryan Baxter – cropped from Flickr, CC BY 2.0
1. Microsoft will offer paid Windows 7 Extended Security Updates (ESU) through January 2023 on a per-device basis, with the price increasing each year. Windows 7 ESUs will be available to Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Enterprise users with volume-licensing agreements, and will be discounted for users with Windows Software Assurance, Windows 10 Enterprise or Windows 10 Education subscriptions.
2. In response to public requests, Microsoft published a primer on its monthly Windows 10 quality update servicing cadence and terminology.
Jen is an award-winning journalist who writes about workplace productivity and technology for Vitalyst. She believes in the power of using plain language, especially when writing about technology, and lists “achieving and enabling clarity” among her life goals.