Migrating from Windows 10 to 11: how to make the transition easier?

When Channel 4 launched on November 2,1982, the first programme it screened was Countdown, hosted by Richard Whiteley and Carol Vorderman. Forty-two years and over 8,000 episodes later, it’s still one of the most popular daytime game shows in Britain (holding a Guinness World Record for its longevity).  Contestants race to do word and mathematical tasks before the Countdown clock tick, tick, ticks to a climactic end (a tune written by the late Alan Hawkshaw, famous for also composing the music for Grange Hill and Cadbury’s Milk Tray adverts). 

The clock is also very much ticking down for organisations running Windows 10. In just 17 months time – on October 14, 2025 specifically – Microsoft will terminate Windows 10 support, meaning that security updates won’t be provided to users.  Yes, you can pay for Extended Support Updates (this is not designed to be a long term solution) but it’s pricey at $61 per user in the first year, doubling in year 2 and again in year 3, resulting in a whopping $244 annual support cost per desktop.  

Doing nothing is not an option.  If you’re not up-to-date with the latest security patches, you’ll potentially leave your organisation open to catastrophic vulnerabilities.  You only need to remember what happened to the NHS in May 2017 when patient care was disrupted at around 80 Trusts and 595 GP surgeries due to the WannaCry malware attack. This exploited computers running legacy Windows XP, as well as those using unpatched Windows 7 software.  

The latest OS transition is complicated by the fact that Microsoft has really homed in on security and upped the ante on the hardware needed, putting in place stringent requirements for Windows 11 to run.  Not only are there minimum specifications in terms of RAM, disk space and CPU (you’ll need endpoints with a 64-bit processor), but devices require secure boot support and have to run a chip called TPM2.0 (Trusted Platform Module) – a secure crypto processor designed to carry out cryptographic operations. 

Well-respected analysts, Canalys, therefore estimate that 240 million PCs globally could become e-waste as they lack the right hardware to run Windows 11. If you wanted a visual illustration of this, they say that if these PCs were all folded laptops, stacked one on top of another, it would make a pile 600 km taller than the moon.

We’ve all been here before. A significant OS change– remembering that Windows was introduced nearly 40 years ago in 1985 and has since undergone 10 or so significant updates – means substantial work for IT departments.  

Any migration – and it doesn’t matter what it is (Windows 10 to 11, VDI to DaaS or Windows to Mac) – is always costly, time consuming and complex. There’s planning, testing applications will work (doing so-called ‘smoke tests’), migrating everything, getting user feedback, followed by QA checking to fix issues and training. This all needs to be done without causing downtime otherwise employee productivity and business as usual activities are impacted.  It’s at least a year’s work for larger organisations. 

Considering that there are three main phases involved in major OS migrations – assessment, migration and optimisation – the good news is the world has moved on considerably over the years with comprehensive, feature-rich tools now available to help simplify the process which drastically saves time, money, and frustration.   

 

1. Assessment

Before any Windows 11 installation can start, IT departments need to carefully assess the devices and software they’ve got given most organisations have heterogeneous computing environments.  This covers a raft of things:

  • How many devices are deployed and from which vendor(s)?
  • What hardware are they running? 
  • Do they have the all-important TPM2.0 chip? 
  • Do they have enough disc space?
  • What’s the battery status and health?
  • Do they have the right level of processor and RAM? 
  • What applications are people actually using day-to-day versus what’s been deployed? 
  • Are there enough licences for these applications? 
  • Are users having performance issues? 

Historically, this was primarily a laborious manual process.  Today, you can automate the analysis of this by deploying ControlUp and – within minutes – collect detailed information about the devices, applications and performance of your estate. This accelerates the assessment phase such that informed decisions can be made quickly about what needs to happen regarding the migration. 

Simply put, ControlUp helps customers understand what devices will run Windows 11, what devices could be repurposed (with a solution like IGEL OS for example), and what devices need to be changed and bought net new. 

In addition, we provide insight into the software employees actually use day-to-day and therefore what applications need to be tested carefully moving forward if they are to continue to work. Here we partner with firms like AppCure or Rimo3 who do the application testing.  

There’s also a strong argument that – as you go about a migration– it’s good practice to review and consolidate applications in use. So, for example, if a company has been paying an annual application licence fee for 1,000 people, but the analysis shows only 750 use the software, it’s an opportunity to scale down to save money. Our software provides this kind of insight.  

2. Migration 

To do the actual migration, Microsoft Intune or technologies from Avanti are typically used to push out the new OS, irrespective of whether the user is office based or working from home. Where ControlUp adds value here is twofold. First, gathering user sentiment feedback from employees through surveys. This helps IT departments assess the success from deployment by asking staff questions like:

  • How did the migration go?
  • Did everything work correctly?
  • Were there any issues experienced during the migration phase? 

Second, we offer tools within our platform so that technical staff can remote manage and remote control a user’s desktop to review and fix issues. This can get really granular, with ‘remote shell’ functionality allowing the actual configuration of a device (there’s also no need to buy third party tools like TeamViewer to do this).  

3. Optimization

Without doubt, operating system migrations cost money. For organisations running the current version of Windows 10 – and which meet the hardware specification requirements – the actual software upgrade to Windows 11 is free.  But once you factor in the time to do all the planning, app testing and migration work, the hidden and actual costs are considerable, especially if you have to buy new hardware.  

To get the most out of this investment, therefore, organisations should be looking to optimise and transform how they manage their estates, with laser focus on digital employee experience management. This is our raison d’etre. 

By rolling out ControlUp as Windows 11 goes in, customers get significantly more visibility and understanding of their IT such as:

  • How are their desktop and app environments performing?
  • What’s the employee experience like?
  • How are devices functioning? 
  • Where are bottlenecks and issues?

This allows IT departments to be more proactive and responsive to staff needs, reduces support tickets and ultimately puts them in better control of their whole end user compute environment rather than it controlling them. 

Back to the Countdown show. In one of the games, contestants are given vowels and consonants which they have to order to make the longest word possible. It’s time now for all organisations to get their affairs in order too if they are to effectively, quickly, and safely adopt Windows 11.