Nov 22, 2021 Panu Saukko

Get Ready for Windows 11 | A Microsoft MVP Review

In this latest collection of blogs, Microsoft MVP, Panu Saukko, will be reviewing our Modern Endpoint webinar series. This fourth and final blog will look at Microsoft 11.

Many enterprises are now thinking how Windows 11 will fit in their IT infrastructure. As such, it is the perfect topic for episode 4, Get Ready For Windows 11, in the 1E Modern Endpoint Management webinar series. Brian Mason and Nathan Ziehnert from Wells Fargo are Bogdan Udrea’s guests, discussing how to get ready for Windows 11. Both Brian and Nathan have a very strong background in endpoint management, especially in larger environments.

The first main question is why Microsoft decided to release Windows 11 after they earlier announced that Windows 10 is the latest Windows operating system. Also, as Nathan points out, Windows 11 came almost out of nowhere. It is amazing how well and how long Microsoft managed to keep Windows 11 a secret. There wasn’t a long public beta period during which customers could’ve provided feedback.

Brian jokingly notes that Windows 11 is being released because Microsoft wants to sell more Surface devices. Personally, I think OEMs have provided a lot of feedback that a new OS version could significantly increase global PC sales. A new Windows version gives Microsoft a good reason to upgrade hardware requirements. For example, Windows 11 finally has only a 64-bit version.

With tighter hardware requirements, customers can utilize more security features on all Windows 11 devices. It is also worth noting that with Windows 10’s weaker hardware requirements, it is possible to deploy Windows 10 without using almost any security features. It is good to notice that Windows 11 doesn’t introduce many security features that are not also present in Windows 10.

Maybe the most controversial Windows 11 hardware requirement is about CPU support. Windows11 requires at  least the 8th generation Intel CPU (with few Intel 7th generation models supported). Many Intel 7th generation CPUs would provide enough performance to run Windows 11 and it has not been very clear which security improvements 8th generation really brings. Luckily, time will fix the old hardware issues when organizations replace their old hardware in the next few years.

Traditionally, drivers caused headaches with operating system upgrades, but it seems that the upgrade from Windows 10 to Windows 11 will be an exception. Most existing Windows 10 drivers will work with Windows 11.

The new Windows 11 UI is the first thing that the users will notice. Depending upon when organizations deploy Windows 11 on their computers, the users might see the new UI for the first time, or they might have already used Windows 11 on their personal devices. The central position of the new Start menu is a big change. I like the new default Start menu location: it is easier to access. Start menu also now contains links to recently used documents.

The Windows 11 UI doesn’t currently provide the same customization options that is present in the Windows 10 UI. Brian assumes that Microsoft will fix most UI limitations in a future version. I sincerely hope that too. Guests also emphasize that organizations should minimize the changes to
the default UI.

Brian and Nathan expect that organizations will not start Windows 11 migration projects soon. There are still almost 4 years before Windows 10 will be out of support (October 14th, 2025). I’m hoping that organizations have learned from the earlier operating system upgrade projects and understand the need to start the project early. Personally, I see that in 2022 you should start doing Windows 11 testing. After Windows 11 22H2 is released, the first real deployments should start in
2023. Then the mass deployments should be finished in 2024 and in 2025 the final problematic devices can be handled. Four years fly by so quickly so if you start testing Windows 11 in 2023 and the deployments after Windows 11 23H2 release, you will be in hurry!

Luckily, the upgrade process from Windows 10 to Windows 11 is much simpler than from Windows 7 to Windows 10. Microsoft promises that Windows 10 applications will work with Windows 11. They have the App Assure program in which Microsoft will help for free to address app compatibility issues that customers might face. Windows 365 is Microsoft cloud based PC that could be useful in the migration process for testing. It could be a quick way to test how Windows 11 looks like. Unfortunately, the price of Windows 365 is the main blocker for large-scale deployment for many organizations.

If you are utilizing Autopilot, you need to check with your OEM vendor to learn when they will start providing new PCs with Windows 11 and how the customer can make sure that their new devices have Windows 10 if they are not ready for Windows 11.

One very good piece of advice from the webinar guests is that deploying Windows 10 security features now is one of the best ways to be ready for Windows 11. A bonus is that your environment is also more secure in the process!

Windows 11 is coming and you should start preparing for it!

If you’re keen to see the webinar for yourself, you can watch it on-demand today! If you’re keen to hear more from Panu, you can check out the other blogs in his series here.