A new version of Windows always leaves IT leaders with questions about when to upgrade. The upcoming release of Windows 10 is adding urgency to this issue and you have a lot to think about between now and July 29. Windows 10 becomes available as a free upgrade for Windows 7 SP1 and Windows 8.1 users on the 29th, and you may have some workers who have already signed up for the update. The question is, have you made the right preparations for the next big Windows release? Here are six things you need to think about when making your upgrade decision:
1. Microsoft Really Wants You to Upgrade
Microsoft is maintaining support for multiple operating systems and must account for all of their various Windows iterations and ecosystems from the past few years or so. This has frustrated developers, confused customers and had an adverse effect on Microsoft's ability to get a foothold in the mobile market. Microsoft is offering the upgrade for free to encourage the bulk of their user base to migrate to their latest release with a generous time limit on the free Windows 10 license (one year) to entice people to move quickly.
Some experts think Microsoft will get desperate and extend the timeline, but either way, it's clear that Microsoft is pushing users to make the switch to Windows 10. You may want to keep this in mind, as the benefits of getting a free upgrade could outweigh the risks of service disruptions and saving the hassle of having to pay for an inevitable update a few years from now.
2. Do Your Users Know What's Going On?
For the past few weeks, you may have noticed a "Get Windows 10" icon pop up in your taskbar. This icon is a part of Microsoft's soft-launch campaign to get users to commit to an upgrade for the new operating system. The problem is, you could run into a scenario where your users have already signed up for the upgrade without a management or IT approval. You need to create a clear policy on what users are expected to do, communicate expectations and even consider adjusting administrative procedures to prevent users from making upgrades without permission.
3. What Does the Upgrade Process Actually Look Like?
Users can sign up for the upgrade at any time between now and the release date. Microsoft will gradually make the upgrade available to users who have signed up. Once Microsoft has made the update available, users can sit on it until they are ready to make the switch, and initiate when convenient.
4. What About Your Remote Workers?
Not everybody working for a company may work from the office or use a company owned device. How do you create policies for personal devices that are used for work remotely? Will your apps and services properly function if remote workers make the upgrade on their own? What about individuals who upgrade their phone's operating system? You have to be ready to support employees using personal devices for work, or create clear, enforceable policies that control the Windows 10 upgrade.
5. Do You Really Care About What Windows 10 Offers?
We could talk about plenty of features that come with Windows 10, but they all boil down to a simple principle - take the performance of Windows 8, but attach it to a much more palatable interface that brings back classic start menu functions and similar capabilities. You'll also get access to a new web browser, Microsoft Edge, which is poised to replace Internet Explorer. It's important to take a close look at what Windows 10 is really offering relative to what your users care about.
6. Is Your Service Desk Ready?
If you choose to make an organization-wide upgrade, you should be ready to support users with self-service tools and similar benefits that enable them to make the change with minimal oversight. You can simplify that process and leave your support team to focus on troubleshooting. In that vein, your service desk also needs to be prepared to handle an influx of tickets from users running Windows 10 outside of the office.
Windows 10 gives you plenty to think about. Be sure to have a game plan ready for your organization once the upgrade goes public.