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How to begin your migration to Windows 10

Windows 7 reaches the end of its extended support life cycle on January 14, 2020, giving companies that haven’t yet upgraded to a later operating system (OS) little time to prepare. With less than half a year to go, it’s time for organisations to start evaluating their options and formulating a migration plan that will keep any disruption to a minimum. Although larger enterprises — which typically need more time to upgrade — can enrol in Microsoft’s Extended Security Updates for up to three years, they should only consider this service as a last resort because it will be very expensive.

OS migration is often a complex and multifaceted process that takes place over several stages, particularly for larger companies with hundreds of computers across multiple branches. Fortunately, upgrading from one edition of Windows to a higher one has never been easier, and Microsoft has significantly simplified the process of upgrading to Windows 10 with some important architectural changes. Best of all, once you’ve upgraded, Windows 10 looks after itself for the most part with automatic updates requiring minimal user intervention.

So, are your machines ready to be upgraded?

The system requirements for Windows 10 are only marginally higher than they are for earlier versions like Windows 7 and Windows 8.1. In fact, Windows 10 has been designed to run on a wider range of hardware configurations than ever before. There’s even a specialised edition for IoT devices and embedded systems. You’ll need a dedicated CPU or system on chip with a minimum speed of 1 GHz, preferably one that’s compatible with 64-bit instruction sets. You’ll also need at least 2 GB of RAM, although 4 GB is preferable for optimal performance.

Assuming the machines you want to upgrade are already running an earlier Windows version, you’ll need to make sure it’s as up to date as possible. Windows 7 should be running Service Pack 1, while Windows 8 machines should be upgraded to Windows 8.1. Most applications or peripherals that work with Windows 7 should work flawlessly with Windows 10. 

However, to ensure you’re ready to upgrade, consider running the Windows 10 Compatibility Scan. Apps and devices that aren’t compatible with Windows 10 are likely so old that you should replace them anyway. Any further compatibility issues will need to be noted down and addressed before starting the migration.

Another crucial preparational step is to ensure you choose the right Windows 10 architecture type and migration method. For example, if you’re currently running a 32-bit operating system, you won’t be able to do an in-place upgrade. Instead, you’ll need to wipe the device and start from scratch, assuming the machine’s architecture is compatible with 64-bit software. Another potential issue is the computer’s BIOS. If Windows 7 was originally installed on a legacy BIOS, you will need a clean install of Windows 10 to take advantage of the newer and more secure UEFI infrastructure supported by most computers manufactured in the past decade.

Choose your migration tools and procedures

If you already have Microsoft’s System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) tool, you can use it to easily manage Windows 10 migrations across large numbers of devices, even if you need to perform a clean installation on each machine. Regardless of whether you’re going for an in-place upgrade or a clean install, you should always back up any important data first.

If your organisation has hundreds of computers across multiple offices, attempting to upgrade everything at once is far too risky and, in many cases, a practical impossibility. Instead, target different user groups as part of a phased migration process that allows each department to catch up and deploy all the necessary tools. A phased migration should start with a smaller group of users for validation before beginning an organisation-wide rollout.

Are you worried about the impending Windows 7 end of life? Austin Technology can help you migrate to Windows 10 with minimal disruption. Call us today to learn more.

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