Windows 11 won't wait: ready to make the switch?

08. May 2024, Avatar of Ulrich WiedholzUlrich Wiedholz

Time is of the essence: The imminent end of support for Windows 10 requires a carefully planned migration. As an IT administrator, I am involved in the Win11 migration project at baramundi and want to share some of my practical experiences.

In short

  • Switching to Windows 11 requires a thorough analysis of the hardware requirements and a clean reinstallation to avoid legacy issues.
  • A carefully tested image is crucial, as is communication with key users and other end users to identify errors and improve the user experience.
  • Windows 11 offers advantages such as improved security, performance and user-friendliness, supports the latest hardware and comes with long-term Microsoft support.

The changeover to Windows 11 is an extensive project. We have already discussed why it is never too early to start the Win11 migration. But what is the first step?

The analysis of the hardware requirements is essential before starting any migration. Due to the requirements of Windows 11 (processors, TPM, etc.), some devices don’t support Windows 11. Microsoft regularly updates these requirements so it’s necessary to continuously adapt the analysis. It is crucial to find out how many devices meet the requirements. In our case, many were eligible for the new version. Companies with devices that don’t qualify should prepare for the ongoing renewal of their hardware until 2025.

But how do you handle the actual migration? At baramundi, we opted for a new installation in order to guarantee a clean upgrade. However, this led to new challenges, such as backing up and restoring user groups. But we were able to automate this with the right scripts.

Laying the foundation: The perfect image

For our Win11 migration, it was also crucial to create a carefully tested image before the actual rollout. We had to pay attention to numerous details. For example, the integration of all necessary language packs and the subsequent addition of new features such as Microsoft's Copilot. Another important point for installations directly at the user's workstation is the display of a "maintenance screen" on the lock screen and the simultaneous deactivation of the mouse and keyboard. This prevents users from logging in prematurely during the installation.

Clean out the old and only take the important things with you

We decided against in-place upgrades in order to get everything "clean" on the newly set up computers without legacy issues such as outdated group policies. However, as we recreated the Active Directory object during the installation, it was important first to back up old group memberships in order to restore them after the installation on the newly set up devices. We were able to manage this process efficiently with scripts.

Even though the creation of a single image before the rollout meant a great deal of testing and customization, our approach was worthwhile because we regularly had to prepare for innovations such as Microsoft's Copilot. Test phases based on the ring concept were essential. We first carried out internal tests, which were then extended to key users from various departments to ensure compatibility with third-party software and overall performance.

Test, try and implement together

Interaction with our key users was extremely valuable, as they reported around 20-25 percent of all detected errors. We also asked them how they perceived the update process – for example, whether our pop-up messages were clear and whether there were any unexpected events. Their feedback on the user experience played a crucial role in identifying and fixing issues.

Feedback from our other end users was also of great value as the process continued. During the test phases, we also learned where it makes sense not to set strict standards. For example, we now allow users to choose or change settings for context menus, energy policies, languages and backgrounds via our self-service portal (a sub-category in our self-service kiosk).

Windows 11: A catalyst for innovation

Windows 11 heralds a new era of innovation, such as a range of Group Policy settings that include user-friendly management options. And with innovative features such as Dev Drive and the integration of Copilot, this version of Windows is not just an update but a leap towards a more efficient and innovative future. The powerful Windows Server Active Directory group policies are designed to ensure consistent and secure configuration across all devices. The Microsoft Security Compliance Toolkit, for example, provides a comprehensive list of important security settings for all supported Windows versions, ideal for customizing your own Group Policy Objects (GPOs).

However, even in this context, comprehensive testing of the security settings before implementation in a production environment is essential. With the right software, all of this can be accomplished without any problems.

Security and support in the future too

An early and well-organized migration to Windows 11 provides companies with many advantages. With advanced security features such as hardware isolation and secure boot, admins can significantly improve data protection. The optimized performance of Windows 11 also ensures faster boot times and smoother-running applications to enhance employee productivity. Revised elements such as the Start menu and enhanced multitasking options also improve the user experience. Windows 11 supports the latest hardware, enabling the use of more powerful devices. Microsoft guarantees long-term support and regular updates for Windows 11 so companies can significantly increase their system security and keep their system environment up to date by switching to Windows 11.

Windows 11 migration pays off

Don't wait for the upcoming end of support for Windows 10, take advantage now of the opportunity for growth, innovation and a more efficient future that Windows 11 offers. Read more in our free white paper.

Ensuring a smooth migration to Windows 11

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