An Engineer’s Perspective: What to Consider When Migrating to Windows 10

By Angelina McIntyre | Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Migrating to Windows 10 can be the first step in introducing a new world of end-user computing. The plans you put in place today will have implications for years to come, so it is necessary to develop a roadmap that supports your business. Windows 10 is indeed a major change, but the roadblocks involved with change shouldn’t stop teams from implementing it if needed.

I’m an SCCM/VDI engineer with over 25 years of experience in the IT industry. Over my career, I’ve developed and deployed SCCM to networks comprised of over 23,000 devices across multiple platforms. In my work, I assess, design and implement desktop management and SCCM support services in large enterprise environments. Since Windows 10 was released, I’ve helped numerous organizations migrate to the OS. To provide information on this topic, this blog is a summary of the benefits and drawbacks to Windows 10.

The use case for moving to Windows 10

A new world of unified endpoint management is on the way. Here are some top reasons to move to Windows 10:

  1. Microsoft is phasing out older version and changing its future release structure- Microsoft announced that Windows 10 is the last release of Windows. Per this change, the company plans to continually create updates for Windows 10 instead of releasing major version revisions. Additionally, Microsoft has stopped the OEM (original equipment manufacturer) purchased for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1. This also forces folks to move to Windows 10 sooner.
  2. Older versions of Windows are losing support– Though it was a sturdy OS, Windows XP is no longer supported by Microsoft, and Windows 7 is quickly nearing end of life. There has been little adoption of Windows 8.1 in the enterprise setting. Additionally, more home users have quickly adopted Windows 10 and are looking for it at work.
  3. Windows 10 opens the door to broad end-user computing needs– IT teams can use Windows 10 to completely reconsider end-user computing. Compatibility with enterprise mobility management tools makes unified management of all endpoints – mobile or not – a possibility. A new world of unified endpoint management is on the way.
  4. Windows 10 has a new UI– Many users prefer the new features and UI of Windows 10. The OS has a metro-style UI and some new features, such as improved action items, tablet mode, other interfaces optimized for touch screens and additional methods to manage updates. Additionally, based on consumer demand, the Windows Start menu is back. The Start menu provides some familiarity to users experienced with older versions before Windows 8.1.
  5. More integrated cloud capabilities– Because this is Windows-as-a-Service, you can now add your Windows 10 to cloud environments, such as Microsoft Azure. More and more businesses are relying on cloud infrastructure. Windows 10 opens the doorway for this strategy.
  6. Improved security measures– With data being a sensitive and important asset to many businesses, IT security continues to be important. Windows has many security features, such as Enterprise Data Protection, Passport, Windows Defender, Virtual Secure Mode, Device Guard, Windows Hello, Azure Rights Management and other trusted apps. Although some of these features were available in earlier versions of the OS, they are now more integrated into Windows 10.
  7. Better driver support- Windows 10 has newer drivers to support newer hardware. Therefore, many organizations will benefit from access to the new drivers, especially as they update their enterprise devices.

The case against Windows 10

Now, for the drawbacks. Here are some reasons people may avoid or delay a migration to Windows 10:

  • Implementation costs: The costs of migrating operating systems can be daunting, and there is confusion about new features, making a business case difficult for some.
  • Legacy technology depends on older software– Organizations may depend on previous versions of Windows because of legacy applications. For instance, you cannot use older versions of Internet Explorer with Windows 10, and some web applications only work in older versions of Internet Explorer. If migrating to Windows 10, businesses will need to verify that all applications work in the new Windows 10 environment.
  • Cortana security risk- Though Windows 10 has many great security features, the OS has some security downsides. For example, Cortana, which is only available with Windows 10, is automatically enabled by default. Enterprises will need to consider disabling Cortana due its potential for the unauthorized sharing of sensitive data. If this problem is not managed, it would result in a HIPPA violation for most hospitals.
  • Loss of update control– When it comes to managing Windows updates, Windows 10 may give you a loss of control. The software features automated updates to the OS, some editions of Windows 10 can delay updates, and Microsoft is moving toward controlling updates as a service.
  • Updates and management are different with Windows 10– Windows-as-a-Service means that updates and ongoing management have become more complicated. This complication refers to the CB, CBB and LTSB options when managing updates and features within Windows 10. Teams will need to decide which servicing plan is right for them.

Planning the migration

Previous versions of Windows – such as Windows 8 – could be skipped in hopes of a better version in the future. Windows 10 is different because Microsoft has positioned it as the last release, with frequent updates replacing major named revisions. Following this change, it may be necessary for organizations to migrate to Windows 10 well before their current version’s end of life. By taking the time to plan and migrate at the right time, teams can gain access to new capabilities and can avoid potential problems from rushed upgrades.

It’s not a matter of “if” but “when” to migrate to Windows 10. To make sure migrating to the new OS does not cause problems for the business, planning a migration to Windows 10 can be all about timing and making sure operations aren’t impacted by the change. Stay tuned for another blog on deploying Windows 10.

Please share your thoughts on the reasons and planning processes around migrating to Windows 10 in the comments below. If you would like to speak to an expert about the migration process, contact my team at the following address: http://www.t2techgroup.com/t2-contact/.

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About the Author
Angelina McIntyre, SCCM Engineer

Angelina has over 25 years of experience in the IT industry. She currently works at T2 Tech Group, where she assesses, designs and implements SCCM and VDI Infrastructure for large enterprises. Organizations she’s worked with previously include St. Jude Medical Center, Novell Network Infrastructure, Providence Health & Services, the CSU Office of the Chancellor and Unisys Corporation.

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