All Windows versions eventually come to the end of their life when Microsoft stops providing updates. Of course, there are performance, security, and feature benefits to migrating to a newer Windows operating system. That said, it is also a technical reality that updating must take place at some point.
How do you make sure your Windows 11 migration goes smoothly? What are the steps you need to take?
It all starts with proper planning. You also need the right tools to support your IT team and users across the organisation. The deployment process has to be scheduled and implemented effectively, and you need to continuously monitor performance post-installation, providing fixes to issues when required.
The aim is to ensure a Windows 11 migration process that minimises risks as far as possible. This especially applies to the risk of business interruption caused by machines, applications, or systems becoming unavailable due to a problem with the migration.
What about the steps you need to take? Here is an overview.
Start With the Data – Understand the Project Scope
The first step in the Windows 11 migration process is to get an understanding of who and what will be impacted by the initiative. In other words, collecting information on all the devices, applications, and users in your organisation.
You can do this manually using spreadsheets, but it will be a cumbersome and time-consuming process that is prone to error.
The best approach is to use a tool like Access Symphony to automate the data collection process, giving you complete oversight of what and who will be impacted by the migration. This information helps with planning, and it is useful if problems occur later in the process where certain machines require a hardware refresh.
Plan and Prepare – Hardware and Apps
Once you have a detailed overview of your IT estate, the next step is to assess and mitigate the risks that exist in your Windows 11 migration plan. Specifically, this means identifying the hardware and apps that will fail to migrate properly or will suffer significant performance issues post-migration.
As above, going through this process manually is incredibly time-consuming. In fact, in some situations, the time it takes to manually identify and mitigate risks makes this an impossible task, as changes in IT are constant. In other words, you can be in a position where you have mitigated a risk, but that mitigation action becomes out-of-date before the migration takes place.
Again, the solution comes from technology, where automated systems, AI algorithms, and solution databases work through the hardware in your organisation and the apps you depend on. The aim is to identify everything from missing information to the security compliance of TPM chipset versions to the readiness of users and apps for the Windows 11 migration.
The risk mitigation steps you will need to take as part of this process include replacing hardware that is at the end of its life, upgrading hardware, and re-packaging apps that fail the testing process.
With Access Capture, for example, virtual machines running Windows 11 can be created, with the platform smoke testing apps to check for build stability on the new OS, in addition to performance testing, functional testing, etc. You can even develop workflows that enable end-users to also be involved in the testing process.
This testing process will give you instant oversight of the applications that are compatible and those that are not. Access Capture then has the capability to autonomously re-package most of the apps that fail testing using MSIX or another format, making them Windows 11 ready. Your team can then focus its time and energy where it is needed most, i.e., the high-priority apps that require manual intervention.
Schedule and Deploy – Pressing the Red Big Button
By this point, you should have up-to-date data on your entire IT estate that reflects the mitigation actions you implemented in the previous step. The next step is to schedule and then action the deployment of the Windows 11 migration.
Communicating with users is a key part of this process to ensure they are aware of what is happening and why, and to ensure the schedule minimises any potential impact on business operations. Tools like the Signal feature in Access Symphony can help with this stage of the Windows 11 migration process.
Post-Migration – Monitor, Support, and Maintain
Post-migration, you can again use tools like Access Capture to re-test app stability, functionality, and performance on the new platform. Having real-time monitoring capabilities is also highly advantageous, as your IT team can continuously check for stability and performance issues, including unique and tricky issues such as broken outlook profiles and problems with personalisation settings within particular apps.
Automatic or manual fixes can then be applied to the issues that arise. With a tool like the FixEngine feature in Access Symphony, new fixes automatically go into the database so they can be proactively or reactively applied to other users, enhancing stability across your IT estate.
Effective Windows 11 Migrations
Migrating to new operating systems is both an unavoidable necessity and a beneficial initiative. The complexity of completing the migration doesn’t usually rest with the operating system itself, but instead the vast and complex nature of your IT environment.
Automation is a crucial component of making Windows 11 migrations (and similar migrations) a success. Automated tools won’t replace your IT team, but they will allow your team to concentrate on planning, preparation, and communication tasks, as well as the more complex technical tasks that require human intervention.
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