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4 tips for handling the upgrade process to Windows 10

To ensure a smooth upgrade to Windows 10, IT should take advantage of helpful tools such as the Microsoft Management Console to test Windows 10 application compatibility.

A transition to Windows 10 can cause confusion for IT and users alike, forcing both groups to change certain procedures and habits.

With the looming end of extended support for Windows 7 and Windows 8, more organizations are going to have to upgrade their desktops to Windows 10.

IT has a lot of work to do during the transition period, so it should keep these four tips in mind to ease the upgrade process to Windows 10.

Think about a clean install

A major concern users have about OS upgrades is personal data loss. Whether it is a folder with essential documents or an image file that serves as a screensaver, users want their data to transfer during the upgrade process to Windows 10.

To keep users happy after the transition, an upgrade install, which installs the new OS without needing to uninstall the previous OS and which maintains the incumbent settings and preferences, may sound like the simplest and easiest option. The problem is, any bugs the OS was experiencing or excess data users don't need will also come along for the ride.

The alternative is a clean install, which installs entirely new Windows 10 desktops. A clean install does offer some under-the-radar benefits to an organization during the upgrade process to Windows 10. For example, it gives IT a fresh start when it comes to maintaining desktops. As a result, any persistent issues, such as bugs from the previous version of the OS, will no longer occur, saving IT time in the long run. However, this process does put user data in harm's way because once IT completes the installation, there is no way to salvage old data.

If an organization provides its users with virtual desktops, a clean install provides even more value because IT can deploy configurations and application permissions to the new Windows 10 desktops with ease.

Prepare for compatibility issues

During the upgrade process to Windows 10, users might run into compatibility issues. The Windows 10 hardware requirements, such as a minimum 1 GHz processor, a Windows Display Driver Model 1.0 and at least a DirectX 9 graphics card, are built to accommodate endpoints that can run Windows 8, but that does not guarantee compatibility across the board with Windows 10.

Device drivers from a previous OS and legacy virtual private networks (VPNs) can both cause Wi-Fi connectivity issues. Because VPNs are so common for securing remote users' workstations, Microsoft set up the Windows Update Troubleshooter to help IT determine if the VPN is at fault. If not, a device driver is likely the culprit.

Apps that run without any problems in Windows 7 and Windows 8 will, generally speaking, run well on Windows 10, but this is by no means a guarantee.

Apps that run without any problems in Windows 7 and Windows 8 will, generally speaking, run well on Windows 10, but this is by no means a guarantee. IT should take an application inventory and test each of its organization's apps for Windows 10 compatibility before the upgrade process to Windows 10. If an application is incompatible with Windows 10, IT should consider finding a replacement or hosting the app themselves.

Take advantage of Group Policy Objects

IT must apply new settings for access and configurations to desktops after completing the upgrade process to Windows 10. Group Policy Objects, which are settings that define users' interactions with the company network, are essential for IT to regain full control of its user groups.

IT professionals that want to change desktop configurations must use the Group Policy Editor tool in the Microsoft Management Console to edit the policies and save the changes. IT can define user groups by establishing settings for each of them, such as muting Microsoft account notifications, establishing logon settings, editing lock screen settings and more. If IT pros deploy one golden image, their job is much easier because they only have to define the settings for a single desktop.

IT can use Group Policy Objects to take control back from automatic updates. IT professionals can also limit users' interactions with the Windows store.

Ensure desktops have the latest updates

IT often defers updates for management reasons or to maintain a consistent user experience. When it comes time to run an in-place upgrade, however, IT must forgo this practice and deploy all the updates. For organizations running Windows 8 desktops, this includes deploying all Windows 8.1 updates, as well. Without all the updates, the in-place upgrade cannot run successfully.

IT can use Windows Analytics to test desktops to ensure that each one has all the necessary feature and security updates. IT can use the Upgrade Readiness tool, which notifies IT directly through the Windows Analytics interface of any desktops that aren't up to date. This saves IT from asking users to check their desktop version or IT having to manually check each desktop with a remote access tool.

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