Many businesses are now at an inflection point when it comes to Windows, Microsoft’s widely used operating system. Microsoft’s product lifecycle policy means only the latest versions of Windows 10 are still supported, and even those versions are coming to their end-of-support deadlines. There are also functionality and business considerations that are bringing Windows 11 migration projects into sharper focus.
Are you ready, though? What do you need to think about, what do you need to do, and what decisions do you need to make to ensure a successful organisation-wide migration to Windows 11?
Our Windows 11 planning guide will give you an overview, but there is an important point to address at the outset.
Automate as Much as Possible
Migrating to Windows 11 is a big undertaking that will only be made more difficult if you use manual processes. Completing Windows 11 migration tasks manually will take up huge amounts of time while also restricting the capacity of your technology resources. More errors will also be made, and the user experience will suffer.
Automation is the key to success for any Windows 11 migration project, particularly in modern organisations that have complex technology environments.
Planning for a Windows 11 Migration
One of the first things you should do in any Windows 11 migration project is to define the scope to understand who and what will be impacted:
- Who – who are the users that will be impacted?
- What – what devices and applications will be impacted?
You then need to audit the devices across your organisation to ensure compatibility with Windows 11. It sounds on the surface like a mind-bogglingly complicated task, but tools like Access Symphony make it effortless. With Symphony, you will get Windows 11 readiness reports on all the devices in your technology environment.
This readiness report will show you the hardware that is not compatible, so will need to be replaced.
At this point in the process, it is important to factor in VDI migration elements. For example, are you replacing incompatible hardware with a virtual desktop or another physical machine? Do you want to take the opportunity of a Windows 11 migration project to move even more users to virtual desktops?
You also need to assess the applications that are used across your organisation to identify apps that present migration risks. Tools like Access Capture can bring automation to this part of the project too, including automating the testing of apps for Windows 11 suitability.
The aim is to identify apps that will fail to migrate or that will cause performance issues once migrated. There is more on this in the next section.
The apps that present risks to your Windows 11 migration will need to be repackaged. Again, this is a process that can be largely automated with a tool like Access Capture. However, in terms of planning your migration project, it is beneficial to prioritise your efforts, particularly for apps that require input from your technical resources to repackage.
You should focus on mission-critical apps first. These are the apps that are fundamental to the operation of your business.
You will also have apps that can be categorised as important, such as apps that maintain productivity levels. You should focus on these apps once you have completed the mission-critical apps.
The least important apps (those that will have no impact on the business if they are not available) should be dealt with last.
Take time in the planning stage of your project to evaluate the tools and protocols you will use for the Windows 11 migration. For example, will you use the same application format as you have used previously or will you change to a more modern format such as MSIX? Will you use SCCM, Intune, or take a hybrid approach? How will you use automation tools like Access Capture to reduce errors and make the migration process more efficient?
Getting users involved in the process as much as possible will help prepare them for the migration to Windows 11. This includes communicating with users, so they are aware of what is happening. You can also get feedback and provide training. By getting users involved, you will improve the user experience while also reducing the number of support tickets your technical resources have to deal with.
Let’s start this section with a “don’t” – don’t plan the stages of a Windows 11 deployment based on department or similar non-technical classification. You should think users, devices, and apps, not departments or similar business structures.
Developing a ring structure is a best practice standard for Windows 11 migration projects. A ring structure involves defining deployment groups of users and devices. The idea is to keep the rings small initially before getting broader as the project progresses. An example recommended by Microsoft has three rings or deployment groups:
- Preview ring – restricted to people with high levels of IT competence to help with design, planning, and evaluating the Windows 11 migration.
- Limited ring – where you expand the deployment of Windows 11 to more devices and users, focusing on those that are representative of the wider organisation.
- Broad deployment ring – where you deploy Windows 11 across the entire organisation using learnings from the two smaller and earlier rings.
When planning for a Windows 11 migration, it’s important not to neglect post-migration monitoring and support. You will need to monitor devices and apps to identify performance issues that need to be rectified, and users will need ongoing help and support. Staying with one of the main themes of this blog, you can automate large parts of the monitoring and support effort with a tool like Access Symphony, but it is beneficial to plan for this in the early stages of your project.
While a Windows 11 migration is a large undertaking, it doesn’t have to be difficult, resource-intensive, or time-consuming. With careful planning and automation tools like Access Capture and Symphony, the process can be seamless, downtime can be all but eliminated, and the user experience can be improved.