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With Windows 10 going away, time to get serious about Windows 11

Well, it’s official: Microsoft has announced that Windows 10 22H2 will be the last released version of Windows 10.

Though Windows 10 will officially be supported until October 2025, businesses will need to make a lot of budgetary decisions between now and then. The hardware mandates of Windows 11 mean many firms will be squeezing out every last minute of support from their Windows 10 investment. Current estimates are that nearly 70% of Windows users still deploy Windows 10, and I know that many will be betting (and hoping) that Microsoft provides some sort of lifeline to extend our use of Windows 10 — much as the company did with Windows 7.

While many argue that hardware purchased in the last several years can easily support Windows 11, the reality is that some of it just won’t cut it. With just over two years to go, many users might want to review their needs, deployment methods, and even whether we’re going to continue using traditional desktops.

There are other issues with Windows 11, one brought about by Microsoft when it changed in the menu and control systems, the other coming from the gamer and IT professional communities.

When I roll out Windows 11 to someone, invariably the first thing they ask is, “Where did cut and paste go?” The biggest change in the Windows 10 user Interface involved the right-mouse-click options. Cut and paste are still there, in plain sight — if you’re used to seeing the icons that stand for cut and paste. Once users realize where those commands are located, they make the migration accordingly. The shift was intentional by Microsoft. But clearly there wasn’t a complete break from legacy menu systems and control panels. Microsoft, after all, realizes that many tools still hook into the Control panel. Thus, while one camp wants Microsoft to rip out every trace of the old UI and become modern, the reality is that Microsoft knows it has to go slow with any transition; too many of us build integrations into legacy controls. 

This led to the creation of third-party tools to tweak the menu system. But it also triggered an unwelcome side effect: more bugs in the operating system. As Raymond Chen points out, Microsoft saw issues in the telemetry data it collects and released a warning in the Windows 11 patching information. After the installation of KB5023774 or later updates, Windows devices with some third-party UI customization apps might not start up. (ExplorerPatcher and StartAllBack, in particular, were affected.)

Windows 11’s reputation has also been affected by the gamer community and by more experienced Windows users. Gamers often push operating systems with various overclocking tweaks or tools to increase performance — tools that often rely on unapproved adjustments. Show me a thread on reddit that discusses an issue with Windows 11 performance after the installation of the latest monthly updates, I’ll show you someone who runs various games on the platform. (It’s rarely an IT admin complaining about thousands of business desktops.)

Windows 11’s higher security requirements don’t always play well with some games. I’ve recently seen specific versions of Windows designed  to cater to the gaming community and disable Windows updates and Windows Defender. While users will now be warned when they disable these core parts of the operating system, this is clearly a situation where people choose to disable security updates because they think they create problems.

IT pros also have affected the reputation of Windows 11 because they’ve been slow to upgrade. It’s understandable: Windows 11 is a disruptive platform, from its mandatory hardware requirements to its emphasis on security, from its changes to the menu system to those right-mouse-click changes. Many businesses, including mine, have slowed the upgrade process. Like many firms, we will have to buy our way into the move to Windows 11 instead of simply deploying a feature release.

The announcement that 22H2 will be the last feature release for Windows 10 should now allow companies to shift resources from feature release management to Windows 11 deployments. This is a good time for businesses to reevaluate deployment methodologies, management tools and long-term plans. Should your next server be a physical server? Should your next software purchase envision a cloud deployment? Should you use Intune to manage systems rather than Windows Software Update Services? Should you move to Autopilot for your deployment needs?

You now have a bit more than two years to figure out what changes you need to make. The clock is ticking.

Copyright © 2023 IDG Communications, Inc.

This story originally appeared on Computerworld

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