Cookie cutters are simple and produce uniform shapes with little effort. They’re great for baking but terrible for your IT strategy. Even for something that seems as simple as Microsoft Windows 7 and Server 2008 End of Support (EOS) planning.
Right now, we’re in the sunsetting period for Windows 7 and Server 2008. Proactive small business owners are preparing and capitalizing on opportunities afforded by the end of support. Just about everyone is jumping on Windows 10.
Microsoft has bolstered Windows 10 for this mass migration, doubling down on security efforts and pushing new initiatives that make the cloud more accessible and intelligent for businesses.
What’s New on Windows 10
Since its release in July of 2015, Microsoft has increasingly made Windows 10 its most cloud-friendly operating system, leveraging the cloud to bolster productivity, security, analytics, accessibility and mobility. Particularly for businesses.
The newest versions of Windows 10 have Application Guard, Exploit Guard and a more comprehensive Advanced Threat Protection, all using the cloud to help businesses thwart attacks, gain critical insight into their individual threats and reduce the impact of realized attacks. The cloud-based security features also make it easier to manage identity, with multifactor authentication and single sign-on options.
Beyond security, the cloud is enhancing the Windows 10 experience. With applications like Teams and Office 365, there is more collaboration and built-in productivity features that cater to different work needs and feature cool new technology like Windows Ink.
Which Windows 10 You Need for Your Business
The level of functionality, security and features you get depends partially on your license. Here are a few differences in the Windows 10 license options:
- Not intended for business use
- Cannot join with Azure active directory
- Unable to easily upgrade to Professional or Enterprise
- Too-basic security features will leave your business exposed
- New, cost-effective license options for front-line employees or kiosks
- Cloud-ready, secure sign-in
- Easier-to-share devices for multiple user profiles
- Full device control and management
- Designed for small businesses
- Essential security features
- Azure active directory-ready
- Full compatibility with the cloud, including Azure
- In-depth, robust identity management and Advanced Threat Protection
- Flexible deployment, update and support options
- Comprehensive analytics, device and app management and control
Unfortunately, some business owners purchase Windows 10 Professional when they should be using Enterprise or vice versa. Many businesses don’t know about S-Mode, which will offer significant savings for devices that don’t need all the capabilities of Pro or Enterprise but require the basic security and functionality of Windows 10 Make sure you have the right Microsoft 365 licensing.
One Florida-based client recently approached us to help them acquire new hardware to comply with HIPAA and wanted better security and devices for new employees. They were running Windows 7 on equipment that had been in the field for 3 to 5 years. At that age, devices that are used in such a way are at the end of their life cycle, likely contain junkware or malware.
To address their need to comply with regulatory requirements and improve operations, Nortec updated the devices employees were using and installed Windows 10 Enterprise. We used the cloud for implementation because it was the easiest, least disruptive method.
Had we simply installed Windows 10 on all devices, it would have created an environment where only some devices had the latest security features and could be centrally managed. All of the older machines would struggle to run the new operating system, causing lags, delays and potentially catastrophic data loss.
Now, management of all technology is consolidated and centralized. Devices can be tracked and kept secure in a way that was not possible with the old hardware and operating systems.
Another client has a completely different set of circumstances. They are a larger organization and a cloud-based migration wasn’t practical. They also had access to Configuration Manager, an on-premise tool developed by Microsoft to push out software to all their devices.
By leveraging their existing Configuration Manager, Nortec created an easier transition with minimal downtime. Like the previous client, they gained access to advanced security features like Windows Defender Credentials, Application Guard and Advanced Threat Protection.
How do I know I’m working with the right provider to migrate to Windows 10?
Find IT experts with a strong track record managing desktop, server and cloud migrations. Starting with our own migration to Windows 10, we’ve implemented the operating system since it first came out in 2015.
Look to see if the provider is Microsoft certified, meaning they have deep knowledge of Microsoft products and their operation. As a Gold Partner, we know the training and experience required for these standards.
Is it disruptive?
If your provider has a migration plan in place disruptions will be minimal. At Nortec, we test the proof of concept and apply project-management principals to reduce downtime.
What red flags do I need to watch for?
One-size-fits-all solutions are the biggest indication you need to find another IT provider. As the two cases above demonstrate, businesses have different resources and needs. A managed IT provider should be able to roll out scenarios accordingly.
What else do I need to ask about Windows 10 migrations?
Check to see what support is offered during the move, particularly if you know your company needs on-site assistance. Make sure your provider can offer what you need.
With Windows 7 ending support in under a year, the time to plan your migration is now. Contact Nortec to get support and guidance from one of Microsoft’s most trusted partners.