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Windows 10 upgrade – Part 2

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I know what you’re thinking.

If you are following the developments of Windows 10 on the Internet you might have noticed that Microsoft have now released the first major update referred to as Threshold 2. This updates the version of Windows 10 to 1511 and brings quite a lot to the table. If you read my previous article on Windows 10, you may well be wondering if now is the time to upgrade. The short answer is not yet, but the long answer is, if you have considered all of the factors, then yes.

Windows 10 remains a hot topic, having taken computers around the world by storm, with a high volume of installed copies, and a significant spike following the recent update, but is it ready for your environment?

Let’s look at the facts:

  • Windows 10 is free
  • Microsoft’s latest update swayed more people towards the upgrade due to the following improvements:
    • Performance
    • Visual tweaks
    • Added IT-level management tools
    • Bug fixes
    • Increased control over Windows Updates (selected versions only: Professional & Enterprise)

If you read my article on Windows 10 a while back, I strongly advised against upgrading. Mainly because the system was untested, unstable and full of bugs. Even though the product is far from complete and is yet to be considered reliable, it certainly gives us something to think about. Especially given that Windows 10 is already installed on over 110 million PCs including 12 million business PCs worldwide.

Can one update, really offer so much potential? Quite possibly. Let’s cover all the major points which may have prevented you from upgrading until now.

Moving to Windows 10 from the perspective of an IT Administrator:

Upgrade is a thing of the past.

One of the biggest downfalls of Windows 10 was the activation process. This worked in a very bizarre way whereby you had to activate Windows 7 / 8 / 8.1 and then install Windows 10. Users were unable to perform a clean installation of Windows 10 using a key from previous versions of Windows (7/8/8.1). However, this has finally been fixed with the latest update, and activation now works the way it was supposed to right from the start. This gives IT administrators the ability to deploy clean installations of Windows 10 in a business environment using a valid Windows 7 / 8 / 8.1 licence key.

Microsoft made the installation / upgrade easier by releasing the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool. This allows you to create a bootable Windows 10 media (USB/DVD) or upgrade your computer directly.

Please note that installing Windows 10 on desktop computers may be easier than on laptops, as they often come with UEFI BIOS which makes the installation tricky, although not impossible. If you change the hard drive settings in the BIOS to Legacy you’ll be able to wipe your drive and install Windows 10. However, please note this will remove all your current partitions, including the recovery one.

Personally, I didn’t care about losing the recovery partition, after all I don’t want to go back to Windows 8.1 ever again, do you?

Who is in control? We are.

Microsoft Windows Update was another reason why a lot of companies decided not to go ahead with Windows 10. Windows Update was fully automated, with your IT team having almost no control over what and how it was updated. This has changed with the release of the latest Threshold 2 update.

The new feature is called Windows Update for Business and it allows your IT to control the deployment of updates within your organisation with features such as staggered deployments or scaling deployments with network optimisations. The update is done using the new Windows Group Policy settings which can be enforced using Active Directory, but it is possible to achieve the same result on your own unmanaged PC with no domain required.

Needless to say, it is only available for business editions of Windows 10, i.e. Professional, Enterprise or Education. Additionally there is Windows Store for Business, a new service that allows a flexible way to find, manage and distribute apps to Windows 10 devices – both Windows Store and custom business apps.

One computer, one telephone, my tablet and me.

Nowadays using more than one device has become standard practice, making services such as Mobile Device Management increasingly important. With the entire family of Windows devices, including PCs, tablets, phones and IOT under one roof, all your apps and data are synced safely and securely. In addition, the secondary service Azure Active Directory Join, enables your IT to maintain one directory, allowing users to use a single login and securely move their Windows settings and data across all Windows 10 devices.

Move to Windows 10 from the perspective of a user:

The new update for Windows 10 brought something for everyone, not just your IT. For end users there is the overall visual and performance improvements (up to a 30% increase compared to a Windows 7 machine), bug fixes and features such as integrated Skype and your virtual assistant Cortana. Another useful feature, especially for those of you who are using 2-in-1 laptops like Surface, is the update allows users to install apps on external storage devices.

To upgrade or not to upgrade, that is the question.

Windows 10 turned over a new leaf with the latest update and so many improvements, making it difficult to say no to the upgrade. It is after all, the most popular and fastest growing version of Windows in a decade, able to turn your old computer into something new(er) and give it a new lease of life.

If your computer is compatible with Windows 10 (see here) and meets the minimum hardware requirements, three key factors should be considered before upgrading:

  1. Current applications used on the network – do you have software or applications that may not be compatible?
  2. Your server (Domain Controller) – do you have an old or new(ish) server that is running or capable of running Windows Server 2012 R2?
  3. Computers – are your computers in the office up-to-speed with enough memory and storage space?

Conclusion

Windows 10 is an operating system that is fast, fresh, light and a pleasure to work with. I wouldn’t go back on my personal machine and can’t wait to upgrade the Windows 7 machine I use at work, having avoided Windows 8 and 8.1. That being said, with the recent events and the ever growing cybercrime, security comes first therefore discuss the upgrade with your IT and if you have even a shadow of a doubt, do not keep it to yourself.  After all, we are here to answer any questions you may have.

References

http://news.softpedia.com/news/threshold-2-boosts-windows-10-adoption-496476.shtml

http://www.expertreviews.co.uk/software/operating-systems/1401617/how-to-clean-install-windows-10-and-create-boot-media

https://blogs.windows.com/windowsexperience/2015/11/12/first-major-update-for-windows-10-available-today/

http://www.zdnet.com/article/how-to-take-control-of-windows-10-updates-and-upgrades-even-if-you-dont-own-a-business/

https://channel9.msdn.com/events/cxo-next-summit/cxo-next-summit-2015/why-how-what-windows-10-for-the-enterprise?cr_cc=200710786&wt.mc_id=usdx_evan_newsletter_misc_itpro_owned_0_0_0&MC=Windows&MC=SecSys&MC=MSAzure&MC=DevOps&MC=MsgCollab

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Jakub Wawrzacz

Jakub proudly combines almost 20 years working in the IT industry with a long-held passion for words. Having previously written content for an online computer news website and computer magazine in Czech, we’re giving him the opportunity to pursue his love once more, by writing for our very own blog.

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