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Win10 Migration Survey Reveals 2018 Challenges

Jeremy Moskowitz, Group Policy MVP, offers an interesting survey covering Windows 10 migration challenges. It’s entitled “The 2018 State of Windows 10 Migration Challenges Report.” (Sign-up link for download: registration required.) The survey involves over 500 organizations from over 30 countries, of which 80% of respondents came from the USA. By size, 41% of organizations were SMBs (1-500 employees), 13% had 501-1000, 24% had 1001-5000, and 22% employed 5001 persons or more. The top 10 verticals covered include an interesting mix. 23% came from education, 13% government, 10% finance, 9% manufacturing, the same (9%) for professional services. Also 8% came from technology, 7 % healthcare, 6% non-profit, and 5% each for consumer and energy & utility outfits. All in all, this Win10 migration survey reveals 2018 challenges that organizations face today (and tomorrow).

With over 500 organizations reporting in, the survey tilts toward education (23%) and goverment (13%) which together represent over 1/3 of all respondents, about 7% behind their aggregate percentage of GDP (42.9%).

How Win10 Migration Survey Reveals 2018 Challenges

The survey breaks migration into four phases: (1) Planning to move, (2) Pilot only, (3) Mid-migration, and (4) Nearly complete. Here’s how organizations break down in terms of these categories, by organization size:

There’s a surprising degree of parity across all organization sizes, particularly for phases 1 and 2 (planning and pilot, respectively).

Surprisingly, the smallest organizations report the highest degree of completion. Nearly half (42%) of them are already nearing completion or have finished the migration process. Thus, only between 1/4 and 30% of organizations across the board remain in the planning phase. The rest have launched the migration process. Thus, they are somewhere on the continuum from pilot projects through nearly (or completely) done. Moskowitz observes on page 4 that “It’s promising to see such low percentages of organizations still in their planning phases — it means most orgs are taking the upcoming lack of support seriously.”

Listing Key Migration Challenges

A list of challenges that organizations face during the migration process includes the following:

Win10 file or application associations

This refers to linkage between a file extension or type and an application. This is what supports double-clicking a file in Explorer to launch an appropriate application. Certain specific associations caused migration issues. These include .pdf, .html (and associated Web files), multimedia (players), Adobe Acrobat, line of business applications, and miscellany. Surprisingly, a majority of organizations choose to manually update individual systems or leave this task to users.

Standardizing Win10 Start Menu and Taskbar

This involves tailoring the environment to facilitate user productivity and ease of access to key applications. A majority of organizations surveyed rightfully see this as an important element in the migration process. For most organizations this includes Office apps, a browser, various line-of-business applications, and department or job role specific applications. Many organizations solve these issues with group policy settings. Overall, the emphasis is on automating configurations as much as possible.

Standarized Win10 image deployments

Image deployments take teams of 2-5 people, and take from 25-52 hours per person to build and test initial images. Add 17-40 hours per person to repeat the process when images must be rebuilt or modified. Typically, this occurs  in the wake of feature upgrades or significant cumulative updates. Thus, this involves significant resource allocations and expenditures. Typical image manipulations include (1) removing non-essentials apps (79%), (2) hardening security (58%), setting up BitLocker (45%), adding printers (43%), miscellany (26%), and turning off (!) Hyper-V (19%).

Local Admin rights reduction or removal

In efforts to boost security, organizations are getting more serious about role-based security and controls. Increasingly, this means revisiting the issue of what Moskowitz calls “whether [or not] to assign local admin rights to low-level users” (pg. 10). He finds that a majority of organizations (57%) still do this, trending upward with the size of the organization “to allow some assignment of local admin rights” (pg. 10). In fact, the reasons for delegation are varied. They include allowing software installation (51%), granting UAC-based elevation of privileges (43%), miscellany (42%), the ability to run admin-level scripts (27%), installing printers (22%), and installing fonts (9%). There’s a great deal more discussion of this topic in the report, which makes for interesting reading.

Net-Net and Takeaways

Indeed, Moskowitz’s report is worth downloading and reading. This goes double for IT pros who work for organization in earlier phases of the migration journey. It might just help them anticipate and deal with common issues more readily and expeditiously. I say this, even though obtaining the report requires registering with the site, and agreeing to accept ongoing email communications from It also further validates two of my recent suppositions. First, it confirms that the wave of upcoming Win10 migrations is nowhere near its peak. Second, it supports the idea that hardware refreshes for a move to a new OS are also likely to continue for some time.

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