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Migrating to Windows 10: A breath of fresh air?

With Microsoft unveiling its latest operating system earlier this summer, many businesses are faced with a difficult choice about whether or not to take the plunge and migrate to Windows 10.

It’s a decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly, and it seems that many companies are hesitant about making the move. A recent survey found that 71 per cent of businesses polled were looking to wait at least six months from its release date before migrating (opens in new tab).

It’s no surprise, particularly with Microsoft’s somewhat turbulent history when it comes to new releases. Microsoft, however, appear to have learnt from past mistakes and Windows 10 promises to offer a more user-friendly experience, with the capabilities to function effortlessly across different platforms.

A gateway to cloud and user-friendly IT

The first step in the upgrade process is to understand what benefits the new OS will provide. For fans of previous Microsoft operating systems, namely Windows 7 and 8, its latest release is nothing less than a natural progression. Combining the strengths of its predecessors, Windows 10 offers end users a host of benefits, which, in short, allow for a better and more productive user experience.

From an IT infrastructure perspective, Microsoft looks to overcome the shortcomings seen in Windows 8. For example, the system’s security has been greatly improved, and includes valuable features to safeguard corporate networks and data security, such as Device Guard and Windows Hello.

A major strength is that Windows 10 works across all platforms, helping to further streamline operations. As businesses continue to use consumer-grade devices, such as tablets and smartphones, on a day-to-day basis, Microsoft has ensured that performance isn’t compromised, creating an all-encompassing OS geared towards a more natural way of working. Windows 10 is consistent and secure across platforms, helping to improve operations for end users in the long-term.

The latest research from the Cloud Industry Forum (CIF) (opens in new tab) shows the overall cloud adoption rate in the UK now stands at 84 per cent. With this figure set to rise, Windows 10 is built with this in mind, acting as a gateway to cloud innovation. Businesses seeking to reap the rewards of working in the cloud should look no further than Microsoft’s new OS, as it allows for increased flexibility, mobility and workplace collaboration.

Windows 8 was seen as a bridge too far for many users, as they were taken out of their comfort zone with a lack of OS familiarity. Because of this, many businesses, and indeed consumers, have waited for the ‘next big thing’ to replace Windows 7. With 50 million users (opens in new tab) already making the decision to migrate, many believe that Windows 10 is indeed ready for prime time.

Enterprise migration – what’s involved?

For consumers, upgrading to Windows 10 is a simple transition, and automatically occurs in the backdrop if using Windows 7 or 8. For businesses, however, the changeover poses a more complex challenge, although Microsoft has committed to making the process as pain free as possible with ‘zero touch deployment’.

One area that does require some thought, especially for businesses that rely on a range of applications, is compatibility and application testing. Although Microsoft has stated that all Windows 7 and 8 apps will be compatible with the new system, issues relating to functionality may still arise, which need to be considered and planned for in advance.

The new system may present a learning curve for some, particularly those who are well accustomed to Windows 8. With fundamental changes, including where features are to be found, it may take them some time to get used to the new system. End user training could be useful for some, to ensure that they know how to get the most from Windows 10.

As a whole, however, the new OS is actually more intuitive, and, to an extent, very similar to Windows 7, which a lot of users will already be comfortable with.

How long will it take to migrate?

In our experience, Windows 10 migration (opens in new tab) is relatively straightforward, with the majority of time being spent on the planning and design phases. Migration, of course, does require a certain degree of upheaval, and, because of this, you need to get it right first time. End users are often reluctant to change, so need to witness, first hand, how the new system can help to enhance their working lives.

Timescales are dependent on each project’s requirements. Migration may take a matter of days, weeks or months, depending on the scale of the project and size of the enterprise. A business should allow for more time if they are looking to take advantage of cloud-based services.

How to go about successful migration

It‘s important for businesses to identify key stakeholders, as changing an OS can fundamentally alter working styles. Based on these stakeholders’ needs, a business can target the ‘evangelist’ end users who can help influence the design of the new OS.

Before rolling out to a wider-audience, it is useful to test the new system on some early adopters, allowing them to evaluate it based on their needs, which can then be applied business-wide. Users should also be encouraged to take advantage of Windows 10’s cross platform compatibility, which will help to improve productivity and efficiency.

Windows 10: worthy of the hype?

With a continuous cycle of development, Windows 10 is more streamlined then ever, as Microsoft moves away from major upgrades to a release process based on ad hoc, incremental updates. Through small and subtle changes, the end users’ experience is enhanced, as they find something new to improve performance. These incremental changes help keep things fresh and interesting, evolving the user experience for the better.

As enterprises continue to embrace the consumer model, technology is evolving from consumer-grade products, which are now used on a day-to-day basis and have the capabilities to function effectively within a business environment.

All indicators point favourably in the direction of Windows 10, as it makes its claim as the next big operating system.

With the adoption of cloud-based services, additional security, increased mobility and flexibility and a straightforward migration process, Windows 10 promises to improve the experience for both end users and businesses alike.

Colin Prime-Moore is Chief Technology Officer at Ultima Business Solutions (opens in new tab)