Five things to consider when planning your Windows 10 migration

With just seven months to go until Microsoft switches off support for Windows 7 on 14 January 2020, many businesses are in the process of migrating to the latest version of the OS.

But around 36% of all PCs in active use are still currently running Windows 7. This means that when support ends and patches stop being pushed out, businesses run the risk of leaving their systems vulnerable to exploits and malware.

So whether you're still considering how to approach a migration, or have got everything under way, here are some tips and factors to consider when looking to migrate to Windows 10.

Download now1: Get the right team in placeThe right number of people to help with a migration depends on the size of your workforce and what needs migrating. Larger organisations are likely to need a combination of project managers within the IT team, a project leader, and some Windows specialists to help out. In some cases, software developers and consultants may be needed to handle any non-standard or bespoke apps the company uses.Smaller businesses, or those without the in-house skills may need to outsource. This may be a more expensive option but will save money in the long run, especially with removing the security risks presented by old operating systems.2: Assess what you haveRunning a complete audit on your existing IT systems, infrastructure and applications may seem like a daunting task, but it will help immeasurably when planning a migration. Identifying which machines are still running Windows 7 will give an accurate picture of the scale of the project. See related  What to do if you're still running Windows 7 Windows 10 release date, features, devices and free upgrade: Windows PowerToys customisation project returns in open source guise Part of the assessment should also include exploring which applications these machines are running, and whether there are any potential compatibility issues with moving them to Windows 10. An audit can be a catalyst for streamlining hardware in the business. There may be old PCs in the mix that are hampering productivity, or there may be opportunities to replace desktops with laptops to help workers with flexibility.3: Evaluate migration optionsThere are a number of options available for migration, and businesses can use a mixture of approaches, depending on what works best for them. Here are the three most common ways:In-place upgrades: This is the most common option, where existing Windows 7 machines are upgraded to Windows 10 through a software update. For upgrading a fleet of computers this way, consider using Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) or System Center Configuration Manager to automate the update process.Re-imaging: This is where the existing systems are wiped clean and Windows 10 is installed based on a pre-prepared image. This option means different images can be created for different teams so that each one gets the optimal setup quickly and easily.PC refresh: Instead of upgrading existing machines, a migration could be an ideal opportunity to bring in new devices running Windows 10 already. These can be purchased directly, or through a device as a service subscription scheme. A PC refresh can be a good option if older machines no longer meet business requirements, and can be a starting point for introducing devices more suited to flexible working.4: Run tests before deployingWhether you're migrating just using one of the above options, or are looking to use a blend, it's important to pilot each approach on a small number of PCs. This is especially important to check that there won't be compatibility issues with business-critical applications or other pitfalls when doing a larger-scale migration.Testing and monitoring should continue for a while after migration just in case there are any issues that arise. This may also highlight areas that staff may need training on, or new features they will need to be taught how to use.'The IT Pro guide to Windows 10 migration' explores how to plan your migration from Windows 7 and ensure it's a successful transition. Download it here.

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5: Communicate with staff

Once you've got an idea of the scale of the migration, put a plan in place and make sure to communicate this clearly to end-users. This will help them plan around key deadlines and mitigate the impact of any downtime.

Before migration it is also worth ensuring that user data and preferences are backed up, to help with a smooth transition to the new setup.

Your migration to Windows 10 may well be simpler than you might think, but having these plans and processes in place will make it much easier to anticipate and deal with any issues that may arise.