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Prepare for the Upgrade to Windows 11

The upgrade is inevitable, but you have time, and you have options.

  • Windows 10 is going EOL in 2025.That is closer than you think.
  • Many of your endpoints are not eligible for the Windows 11 upgrade. You can’t afford to replace all your endpoints this year. How do you manage this Microsoft initiated catastrophe?
  • You want to stay close to the leading edge of technology and services, but how do you do that while keeping your spending in check and within budget?

Our Advice

Critical Insight

Windows 11 is a step forward in security, which is one of the primary reasons for the release of the new operating system. Windows 11 comes with a list of hardware requirements that enable the use of tools and features that, when combined, will reduce malware infections.

Impact and Result

Windows 11 hardware requirements will result in devices that are not eligible for the upgrade. Companies will be left to spend money on replacement devices. Following the Info-Tech guidance will help clients properly budget for hardware replacements before Windows 10 is no longer supported by Microsoft. Eligible devices can be upgraded, but Info-Tech guidance can help clients properly plan the upgrade using the upgrade ring approach.


Prepare for the Upgrade to Windows 11 Research & Tools

1. Prepare for the Upgrade to Windows 11 Deck – A look into some of the pros and cons of Microsoft’s latest desktop operating system, along with guidance on moving forward with this inevitable upgrade.

Discover the reason for the release of Windows 11, what you require to be eligible for the upgrade, what features were added or updated, and what features were removed. Our guidance will assist you with a planned and controlled rollout of the Windows 11 upgrade. We also provide guidance on how to approach a device refresh plan if some devices are not eligible for Windows 11. The upgrade is inevitable, but you have time, and you have options.

2. What Are My Options If My Devices Cannot Upgrade to Windows 11? – Build a Windows 11 Device Replacement budget with our Hardware Asset Management Budgeting Tool.

This tool will help you budget for a hardware asset refresh and to adjust the budget as necessary to accommodate any unexpected changes. The tool can easily be modified to assist in developing and justifying the budget for hardware assets for a Windows 11 project. Follow the instructions on each tab and feel free to play with the HAM budgeting tool to fit your needs.


Prepare for the Upgrade to Windows 11

The upgrade is inevitable, but you have time, and you have options.

Analyst Perspective

Upgrading to Windows 11 is easy, and while it should be properly investigated and planned, it should absolutely be an activity you undertake.

“You hear that Mr. Anderson? That is the sound of inevitability.” ("The Matrix Quotes" )

The fictitious Agent Smith uttered those words to Keanu Reeves’ character, Neo, in The Matrix in 1999, and while Agent Smith was using them in a very sinister and figurative context, the words could just as easily be applied to the concept of upgrading to the Windows 11 operating system from Microsoft in 2022.

There have been two common, recurring themes in the media since late 2019. One is the global pandemic and the other is cyber-related crime. Microsoft is not in a position to make an impact on a novel coronavirus, but it does have the global market reach to influence end-user technology and it appears that it has done just that. Windows 11 is a step forward in endpoint security and functionality. It also solidifies the foundation for future innovations in end-user operating systems and how they are delivered. Windows-as-a-Service (WAAS) is the way forward for Microsoft. Windows 10 is living on borrowed time, with a defined end of support date of October 14, 2025. Upgrading to Windows 11 is easy, and while it should be properly investigated and planned, it should absolutely be an activity you undertake.

It is inevitable!

P.J. Ryan

Research Director, Infrastructure & Operations

Info-Tech Research Group

Executive Summary

Your Challenge

  • Windows 10 is going EOL in 2025. That is closer than you think.
  • Many of your endpoints are not eligible for the Windows 11 upgrade. You can’t afford to replace all your endpoints this year. How do you manage this Microsoft-initiated catastrophe?
  • You want to stay close to the leading edge of technology and services, but how do you do that while keeping your spending in check and within budget?

Common Obstacles

  • The difference between Windows 10 and Windows 11 is not clear. Windows 11 looks like Windows 10 with some minor changes, mostly cosmetic. Many online users don’t see the need. Why upgrade? What are the benefits?
  • The cost of upgrading devices just to be eligible for Windows 11 is high.
  • Your end users don’t like change. This is not going to go over well!

Info-Tech's Approach

  • Spend wisely. Space out your endpoint replacements and upgrades over several years. You do not have to upgrade everything right away.
  • Be patient. Windows 11 contained some bugs when it was initially released. Microsoft fixed most of the issues through monthly quality updates, but you should ensure that you are comfortable with the current level of functionality before you upgrade.
  • Use the upgrade ring approach. Test your applications with a small group first, and then stage the rollout to increasingly larger groups over time.

Info-Tech Insight

There is a lot of talk about Windows 11, but this is only an operating system upgrade, and it is not a major one. Understand what is new, what is added, and what is missing. Check your devices to determine how many are eligible and ineligible. Many organizations will have to spend capital on endpoint upgrades. Solid asset management practices will help.

Insight summary

Windows 11 is a step forward in security, which is one of the primary reasons for the release of the new operating system.

Windows 11 comes with a list of hardware requirements that enable the use of tools and features that, when combined, will reduce malware infections.

The hardware requirements for Windows 11 enable security features such as password-less logon, disk encryption, increased startup protection with secure boot, and virtualization-based security.

Many organizations will have to spend capital on endpoint upgrades.

Microsoft now insists that modern hardware is required for Windows 11 for not only security but also for improved stability. That same hardware requirement will mean that many devices that are only three or four years old (as well as older ones) may not be eligible for Windows 11.

Windows 11 is a virtualization challenge for some providers.

The hardware requirements for physical devices are also required for virtual devices. The TPM module appears to be the biggest challenge. Oracle VirtualBox and Citrix Hypervisor as well as AWS and Google are unable to support Windows 11 virtual devices as of the time of writing.

Windows 10 will be supported by Microsoft until October 2025.

That will remove some of the pressure felt due to the ineligibility of many devices and the need to refresh them. Take your time and plan it out, keeping within budget constraints. Use the upgrade ring approach for systems that are eligible for the Windows 11 upgrade.

New look and feel, and a center screen taskbar.

Corners are rounded, some controls look a little different, but overall Windows 11 is not a dramatic shift from Windows 10. It is easier to navigate and find features. Oh, and yes, the taskbar (and start button) is shifted to the center of the screen, but you can move them back to the left if desired.

The education industry gets extra attention with the release of Windows 11.

Windows 11 comes with multiple subscription-based education offerings, but it also now includes a new lightweight SE edition that is intended for the K-8 age group. Microsoft also released a Windows 11 Education SE specific laptop, at a very attractive price point. Other manufacturers also offer Windows 11 SE focused devices.

Why Windows 11?

Windows 10 was supposed to be the final desktop OS from Microsoft, wasn’t it?

Maybe. It depends who you ask.

Jerry Nixon, a Microsoft developer evangelist, gained notoriety when he uttered these words while at a Microsoft presentation as part of Microsoft Ignite in 2015: “Right now we’re releasing Windows 10, and because Windows 10 is the last version of Windows, we’re all still working on Windows 10,” (Hachman). Microsoft never officially made that statement. Interestingly enough, it never denied the comments made by Jerry Nixon either.

Perhaps Microsoft released a new operating system as a financial grab, a way to make significant revenue?

Nope.

Windows 11 is a free upgrade or is included with any new computer purchase.

Market share challenges?

Doubtful.

It’s true that Microsoft's market share of desktop operating systems is dropping while Apple OS X and Google Chrome OS are rising.

In fact, Microsoft has relinquished over 13% of the market share since 2012 and Apple has almost doubled its market share. BUT:

Microsoft is still holding 75.12% of the market while Apple is in the number 2 spot with 14.93% (gs.statcounter.com).

The market share is worth noting for Microsoft but it hardly warrants a new operating system.

New look and feel?

Unlikely

New start button and taskbar orientation, new search window, rounded corners, new visual look on some controls like the volume bar, new startup sound, new Windows logo, – all minor changes. Updates could achieve the same result.

Security?

Likely the main reason.

Windows 11 comes with a list of hardware requirements that enable the use of tools and features that, when combined, will reduce malware infections.

The hardware requirements for Windows 11 enable security features such as password-less logon, disk encryption, increased startup protection with secure boot, and virtualization-based security.

The features are available on all Windows 11 physical devices, due to the common hardware requirements.

Windows 11 hardware-based security

These hardware options and features were available in Windows 10 but not enforced. With Windows 11, they are no longer optional. Below is a description and explanation of the main features.

Feature What it is How it works
TPM 2.0 (Trusted Platform Module) Chip TPM is a chip on the motherboard of the computer. It is used to store encryption keys, certificates, and passwords. TPM does this securely with tamper-proof prevention. It can also generate encryption keys and it includes its own unique encryption key that cannot be altered (helpdeskgeek.com). You do not need to enter your password once you setup Windows Hello, so the password is no longer easy to capture and steal. It is set up on a device per device basis, meaning if you go to a different device to sign in, your Windows Hello authentication will not follow you and you must set up your Hello pin or facial recognition again on that particular device. TPM (Trusted Platform Module) can store the credentials used by Windows Hello and encrypt them on the module.
Windows Hello Windows Hello is an alternative to using a password for authentication. Users can use a pin, a fingerprint, or facial recognition to authenticate.
Device Encryption Device encryption is only on when your device is off. It scrambles the data on your disk to make it unreadable unless you have the key to unscramble it. If your endpoint is stolen, the contents of the hard drive will remain encrypted and cannot be accessed by anyone unless they can properly authenticate on the device and allow the system to unscramble the encrypted data.
UEFI Secure Boot Capable UEFI is an acronym for Unified Extensible Firmware Interface. It is an interface between the operating system and the computer firmware. Secure Boot, as part of the firmware interface, ensures that only unchangeable and approved software and drivers are loaded at startup and not any malware that may have infiltrated the system (Lumunge). UEFI, with Secure Boot, references a database containing keys and signatures of drivers and runtime code that is approved as well as forbidden. It will not let the system boot up unless the signature of the driver or run-time code that is trying to execute is approved. This UEFI Secure boot recognition process continues until control is handed over to the operating system.
Virtualization Based Security (VBS) and Hypervisor-Protected Code Integrity (HVCI) VBS is security based on virtualization capabilities. It uses the virtualization features of the Windows operating system, specifically the Hyper-V hypervisor, to create and isolate a small chunk of memory that is isolated from the operating system. HVCI checks the integrity of code for violations. The Code Integrity check happens in the isolated virtual area of memory protected by the hypervisor, hence the acronym HVCI (Hypervisor Protected Code Integrity) (Murtaza). In the secure, isolated region of memory created by VBS with the hypervisor, Windows will run checks on the integrity of the code that runs various processes. The isolation protects the stored item from tampering by malware and similar threats. If they run incident free, they are released to the operating system and can run in the standard memory space. If issues are detected, the code will not be released, nor will it run in the standard memory space of the operating system, and damage or compromise will be prevented.

How do all the hardware-based security features work?

This scenario explains how a standard boot up and login should happen.

You turn on your computer. Secure Boot authorizes the processes and UEFI hands over control to the operating system. Windows Hello works with TPM and uses a pin to authenticate the user and the operating systems gives you access to the Windows environment.

Now imagine the same process with various compromised scenarios.

You turn on your computer. Secure Boot does not recognize the signature presented to it by the second process in the boot sequence. You will be presented with a “Secure Boot Violation” message and an option to reboot. Your computer remains protected.

You boot up and get past the secure boot process and UEFI passes control over to the Windows 11 operating system. Windows Hello asks for your pin, but you cannot remember the pin and incorrectly enter it three times before admitting temporary defeat. Windows Hello did not find a matching pin on the TPM and will not let you proceed. You cannot log in but in the eyes of the operating system, it has prevented an unauthorized login attempt.

You power up your computer, log in without issue, and go about your morning routine of checking email, etc. You are not aware that malware has infiltrated your system and modified a page in system memory to run code and access the operating system kernel. VBS and HVCI check the integrity of that code and detect that it is malicious. The code remains isolated and prevented from running, protecting your system.

TPM, Hello, UEFI with Secure Boot, VBS and HVCI all work together like a well-oiled machine.

“Microsoft's rationale for Windows 11's strict official support requirements – including Secure Boot, a TPM 2.0 module, and virtualization support – has always been centered on security rather than raw performance.” – Andrew Cunningham, arstechnica.com

“Windows 11 raises the bar for security by requiring hardware that can enable protections like Windows Hello, Device Encryption, virtualization-based security (VBS), hypervisor-protected code integrity (HVCI), and Secure Boot. These features in combination have been shown to reduce malware by 60% on tested devices.” – Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, Computerworld

Can any device upgrade to Windows 11?

In addition to the security-related hardware requirements listed previously, which may exclude some devices from Windows 11 eligibility, Windows 11 also has a minimum requirement for other hardware components.

Windows 7 and Windows 10 were publicized as being backward compatible and almost any hardware would be able to run those operating systems. That changed with Windows 11. Microsoft now insists that modern hardware is required for Windows 11 for not only security but also improved stability.

Software Requirement

You must be running Windows 10 version 2004 or greater to be eligible for a Windows 11 upgrade (“Windows 11 Requirements”).

Complete hardware requirements for Windows 11

  • 1 GHz (or faster) compatible 64-bit processor with two or more cores
  • 4 GB RAM
  • 64 GB or more of storage space
  • Compatible with DirectX 12 or later with WDDM 2.0 driver
    • DirectX connects the hardware in your computer with Windows. It allows software to display graphics using the video card or play audio, as long as that software is DirectX compatible. Windows 11 requires version 12 (“What are DirectX 12 compatible graphics”).
    • WDDM is an acronym for Windows Display Driver Model. WDDM is the architecture for the graphics driver for Windows (“Windows Display Driver Model”).
    • Version 2.0 of WDDM is required for Windows 11.
  • 720p display greater than 9" diagonally with 8 bits per color channel
  • UEFI Secure Boot capable
  • TPM 2.0 chip
  • (“Windows 11 Requirements”)

Windows 11 may challenge your virtual environment

When Windows 11 was initially released, some IT administrators experienced issues when trying to install or upgrade to Windows 11 in the virtual world.

The Challenge

The issues appeared to be centered around the Windows 11 hardware requirements, which must be detected by the Windows 11 pre-install check before the operating system will install.

The TPM 2.0 chip requirement was indeed a challenge and not offered as a configuration option with Citrix Hypervisor, the free VMware Workstation Player or Oracle VM VirtualBox when Windows 11 was released in October 2021, although it is on the roadmap for Oracle and Citrix Hypervisor. VMware provides alternative products to the free Workstation Player that do support a virtual TPM. Oracle and Citrix reported that the feature would be available in the future and Windows 11 would work on their platforms.

Short-Term Solutions

VMware and Microsoft users can add a vTPM hardware type when configuring a virtual Windows 11 machine. Microsoft Azure does offer Windows 11 as an option as a virtual desktop. Citrix Desktop-As-A-Service (DAAS) will connect to Azure, AWS, or Google Cloud and is only limited by the features of the hosting cloud service provider.

Additional Insight

According to Microsoft, any VM running Windows 11 must meet the following requirements (“Virtual Machine Support”):

  • It must be a generation 2 VM, and upgrading a generation 1 VM to Windows 11 (in-place) is not possible
  • 64 GB of storage or greater
  • Secure Boot capable with the virtual TPM enabled
  • 4 GB of memory or greater
  • 2 or more virtual processors
  • The CPU of the physical computer that is hosting the VM must meet the Windows 11 (“Windows Processor Requirements”)

What’s new or updated in Windows 11?

The following two slides highlight some of the new and updated features in Windows 11.

Security

The most important change with Windows 11 is what you cannot see – the security. Windows 11 adds requirements and controls to make the user and device more secure, as described in previous slides.

Taskbar

The most prominent change in relation to the look and feel of Windows 11 is the shifting of the taskbar (and Start button) to the center of the screen. Some users may find this more convenient but if you do not and prefer the taskbar and start button back on the left of your screen, you can change it in taskbar settings.

Updated Apps

Paint, Photos, Notepad, Media Player, Mail, and other standard Windows apps have been updated with a new look and in some cases minor enhancements.

User Interface

The first change users will notice after logging in to Windows 11 is the new user interface – the look and feel. You may not notice the additional colors added to the Windows palette, but you may have thought that the startup sound was different, and the logo also looks different. You would be correct. Other look-and-feel items that changed include the rounded corners on windows, slightly different icons, new wallpapers, and controls for volume and brightness are now a slide bar. File explorer and the settings app also have a new look.

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams is now installed on the taskbar by default. Note that this is for a personal Microsoft account only. Teams for Work or School will have to be installed separately if you are using a work or school account.

What’s new or updated in Windows 11?

Snap Layouts

Snap layouts have been enhanced and snap group functionality has been added. This will allow you to quickly snap one window to the side of the screen and open other Windows in the other side. This feature can be accessed by dragging the window you wish to snap to the left or right edge of the screen. The window should then automatically resize to occupy that half of the screen and allow you to select other Windows that are already open to occupy the remaining space on the screen. You can also hover your mouse over the maximize button in the upper right-hand corner of the window. A small screen with multiple snap layouts will appear for your selection. Multiple snapped Windows can be saved as a “Snap Group” that will open together if one of the group windows are snapped in the future.

Widgets

Widgets are expanding. Microsoft started the re-introduction of widgets in Windows 10, specifically focusing on the weather. Widgets now include other services such as news, sports, stock prices, and others.

Android Apps

Android apps can now run in Windows 11. You will have to use the Amazon store to access and install Android apps, but if it is available in the Amazon store, you can install it on Windows 11.

Docking

Docking has improved with Windows 11. Windows knows when you are docked and will minimize apps when you undock so they are not lost. They will appear automatically when you dock again.

This is not intended to be an inclusive list but does cover some of the more prominent features.

What’s missing from Windows 11?

The following features are no longer found in Windows 11:

  • Backward compatibility
    • The introduction of the hardware requirements for Windows 11 removed the backward compatibility (from a hardware perspective) that made the transition from previous versions of Windows to their successor less of a hardware concern. If a computer could run Windows 7, then it could also run Windows 10. That does not automatically mean it can also run Windows 11.
  • Internet Explorer
    • Internet Explorer is no longer installed by default in Windows 11. Microsoft Edge is now the default browser for Windows. Other browsers can also be installed if preferred.
  • Tablet mode
    • Windows 11 does not have a "tablet" mode, but the operating system will maximize the active window and add more space between icons to make selecting them easier if the 2-in-1 hardware detects that you wish to use the device as a tablet (keyboard detached or device opened up beyond 180 degrees, etc.).
  • Semi-annual updates
    • It may take six months or more to realize that semi-annual feature updates are missing. Microsoft moved to an annual feature update schema but continued with monthly quality updates with Windows 11.
  • Specific apps
    • Several applications have been removed (but can be manually added from the Microsoft Store by the user). They include:
      • OneNote for Windows 10
      • 3D Viewer
      • Paint 3D
      • Skype
  • Cortana (by default)
    • Cortana is missing from Windows 11. It is installed but not enabled by default. Users can turn it on if desired.

Microsoft included a complete list of features that have been removed or deprecated with Windows 11, which can be found here Windows 11 Specs and System Requirements.

Windows 11 editions

  • Windows 11 is offered in several editions:
    • Windows 11 Home
    • Windows 11 Pro
    • Windows 11 Pro for Workstations
    • Windows 11 Enterprise Windows 11 for Education
    • Windows 11 SE for Education
  • Windows 11 hardware requirements and security features are common throughout all editions.
  • The new look and feel along with all the features mentioned previously are common to all editions as well.
  • Windows Home
    • Standard offering for home users
  • Pro versus Pro for Workstations
    • Windows 11 Pro and Pro for Workstations are both well suited for the business environment with available features such as support for Active Directory or Azure Active Directory, Windows Autopilot, OneDrive for Business, etc.
    • Windows Pro for Workstations is designed for increased demands on the hardware with the higher memory limits (2 TB vs. 6 TB) and processor count (2 CPU vs. 4 CPU).
    • Windows Pro for Workstations also features Resilient File System, Persistent Memory, and SMB Direct. Neither of these features are available in the Windows 11 Pro edition.
    • Windows 11 Pro and Pro for Workstations are both very business focused, although Pro may also be a common choice for non-business users (Home and Education).
  • Enterprise Offerings
    • Enterprise licenses are subscription based and are part of the Microsoft 365 suite of offerings.
    • Windows 11 Enterprise is Windows 11 Pro with some additional addons and functionality in areas such as device management, collaboration, and security services.
    • The level of the Microsoft 365 Enterprise subscription (E3 or E5) would dictate the additional features and functionality, such as the complete Microsoft Defender for Endpoint suite or the Microsoft phone system and Audio Conferencing, which are only available with the E5 subscription.

Windows 11 Education Editions

With the release of a laptop targeted specifically at the education market, Microsoft must be taking notice of the Google Chrome educational market penetration, especially with headlines like these.

“40 Million Chromebooks in Use in Education” (Thurrott)

“The Unprecedented Growth of the Chromebook Education Market Share” (Carklin)

“Chromebooks Gain Market Share as Education Goes Online” (Hruska)

“Chromebooks Gain Share of Education Market Despite Shortages” (Mandaro)

“Chromebook sales skyrocketed in Q3 2020 with online education fueling demand” (Duke)

  • Education licenses are subscription based and are part of the Microsoft 365 suite of offerings. Educational pricing is one benefit of the Microsoft 365 Education model.
  • Windows 11 Education is Windows 11 Pro with some additional addons and functionality similar to the Enterprise offerings for Windows 11 in areas such as device management, collaboration, and security services. Windows 11 Education also adds some education specific settings such as Classroom Tools, which allow institutions to add new students and their devices to their own environment with fewer issues, and includes OneNote Class Notebook, Set Up School PCs app, and Take a Test app.
  • The level of the Microsoft 365 Education subscription (A3 or A5) would dictate the additional features and functionality, such as the complete Microsoft Defender for Endpoint suite or the Microsoft phone system and Audio Conferencing, which are only available with the A5 subscription.
  • Windows 11 SE for Education:
    • A cloud-first edition of Windows 11 specifically designed for the K-8 education market.
    • Windows 11 SE is a light version of Windows 11 that is designed to run on entry-level devices with better performance and security on that hardware.
    • Windows 11 SE requires Intune for Education and only IT admins can install applications.
  • Microsoft and others have come out with Windows SE specific devices at a low price point.
    • The Microsoft Surface Laptop SE comes pre-loaded with Windows 11 SE and can be purchased for US$249.00.
    • Dell, Asus, Acer, Lenovo, and others also offer Windows 11 SE specific devices (“Devices for Education”).

Initial Reactions

Below you can find some actual initial reactions to Windows 11.

Initial reactions are mixed, as is to be expected with any new release of an operating system. The look and feel is new, but it is not a huge departure from the Windows 10 look and feel. Some new features are well received such as the snap feature.

The shift of the taskbar (and start button) is the most popular topic of discussion online when it comes to Windows 11 reactions. Some love it and some do not. The best part about the shift of the taskbar is that you can adjust it in settings and move it back to its original location.

The best thing about reactions is that they garner attention, and thanks in part to all the online reactions and comments, Microsoft is continually improving Windows 11 through quality updates and annual feature releases.

“My 91-year-old Mum has found it easy!” Binns, Paul ITRG

“It mostly looks quite nice and runs well.” Jmbpiano, Reddit user

“It makes me feel more like a Mac user.” Chang, Ben Info-Tech

“At its core, Windows 11 appears to be just Windows 10 with a fresh coat of paint splashed all over it.” Rouse, Rick RicksDailyTips.com

“Love that I can snap between different page orientations.” Roberts, Jeremy Info-Tech

“I finally feel like Microsoft is back on track again.” Jawed, Usama Neowin

“A few of the things that seemed like issues at first have either turned out not to be or have been fixed with patches.” Jmbpiano, Reddit user

“The new interface is genuinely intuitive, well-designed, and colorful.” House, Brett AnandTech

“No issues. Have it out on about 50 stations.” Sandrews1313, Reddit User

“The most striking change is to the Start menu.” Grabham, Dan pocket-lint.com

How do I upgrade to Windows 11?

The process is very similar to applying updates in Windows 10.

  • Windows 11 is offered as an upgrade through the standard Windows 10 update procedure. Windows Update will notify you when the Windows 11 upgrade is ready (assuming your device is eligible for Windows 11).
    • Allow the update (upgrade in this case) to proceed, reboot, and your endpoint will come back to life with Windows 11 installed and ready for you.
  • A fresh install can be delivered by downloading the required Windows 11 installation media from the Microsoft Software Download site for Windows 11.
  • Business users can control the timing and schedule of the Windows 11 rollout to corporate endpoints using Microsoft solutions such as WSUS, Configuration Manager, Intune and Endpoint Manager, or by using other endpoint management solutions.
  • WSUS and Configuration Manager will have to sync the product category for Windows 11 to manage the deployment.
  • Windows Update for Business policies will have to use the target version capability rather than using the feature update referrals alone.
  • Organizations using Intune and a Microsoft 365 E3 license will be able to use the Feature Update Deployments page to select Windows 11.
  • Other modern endpoint management solutions may also allow for a controlled deployment.

Info-Tech Insight

The upgrade itself may be a simple process but be prepared for the end-user reactions that will follow. Some will love it but others will despise it. It is not an optional upgrade in the long run, so everyone will have to learn to accept it.

When can I upgrade to Windows 11?

You can upgrade right now BUT there is no need to rush. Windows 11 was released in October 2021 but that doesn’t mean you have to upgrade everyone right away. Plan this out.

  • Build deployment rings into your Windows 11 upgrade approach: This approach, also referred to as Canary Releases or deployment rings, allows you to ensure that IT can support users if there's a major problem with the upgrade. Instead of disrupting all end users, you are only disrupting a portion of end users.
    • Deploy the initial update to your test environment.
    • After testing is successful or changes have been made, deploy Windows 11 to your pilot group of users.
    • After the pilot group gives you the thumbs up, deploy to the rest of production in phases. Phases are sometimes by office/location, sometimes by department, sometimes by persona (i.e. defer people that don't handle updates well), and usually by a combination of these factors.
    • Increase the size of each ring as you progress.
  • Always back up your data before any upgrade.

Deployment Ring Example

Pilot Ring - Individuals from all departments - 10 users

Ring #1 - Dev, Finance - 20 Users

Ring #2 - Research - 100 Users

Ring #3 - Sales, IT, Marketing - 500 Users

Upgrade your eligible devices and users to Windows 11

Build Windows 11 Deployment Rings

Instructions:

  1. Identify who will be in the pilot group. Use individuals instead of user groups.
  2. Identify how many standard rings you need. This number will be based on the total number of employees per office.
  3. Map groups to rings. Define which user groups will be in each ring.
  4. Allow some time to elapse between upgrades. Allow the first group to work with Windows 11 and identify any potential issues that may arise before upgrading the next group.
  5. Track and communicate. Record all information into a spreadsheet like the one on the right. This will aid in communication and tracking.
Ring Department or Group Total Users Delay Time Before Next Group
Pilot Ring Individuals from all departments 10 Three weeks
Ring 1 Dev Finance 20 Two weeks
Ring 2 Research 100 One week
Ring 3 Sales, IT Marketing 500 N/A

What are my options if my devices cannot upgrade to Windows 11?

Don’t rush out to replace all the ineligible endpoint devices. You have some time to plan this out. Windows 10 will be available and supported by Microsoft until October 2025.

Use asset management strategies and budget techniques in your Windows 11 upgrade approach:

  • Start with current inventory and determine which devices will not be eligible for upgrade to Windows 11.
  • Prioritize the devices for replacement, taking device age, the role of the user the device supports, and delivery times for remote users into consideration.
  • Take this opportunity to review overall device offerings and end-user compute strategy. This will help decide which devices to offer going forward while improving end-user satisfaction.
  • Determine the cost for replacement devices:
    • Compare vendor offerings using an RFP process.
  • Use the hardware asset management planning spreadsheet on the next slide to budget for the replacements over the coming months leading up to October 2025.

Leverage Info-Tech research to improve your end-user computing strategy and hardware asset management processes:

New to End User Computing Strategies? Start with Modernize and Transform Your End-User Computing Strategy.

New to IT asset management? Use Info-Tech’s Implement Hardware Asset Management blueprint.

Use Info-Tech’s HAM Budgeting Tool to plan your hardware asset budget

Build a Windows 11 Device Replacement Budget

The link below will open up a hardware asset management (HAM) budgeting tool. This tool can easily be modified to assist in developing and justifying the budget for hardware assets for the Windows 11 project. The tool will allow you to budget for hardware asset refresh and to adjust the budget as needed to accommodate any changes. Follow the instructions on each tab to complete the tool.

A sample of a possible Windows 11 budgeting spreadsheet is shown on the right, but feel free to play with the HAM budgeting tool to fit your needs.

HAM Budgeting Tool

Windows 11 Replacement Schedule
2022 2023 2024 2025
Department Total to replace Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Left to allocate
Finance 120 20 20 20 10 10 20 20 0
HR 28 15 13 0
IT 30 15 15 0
Research 58 8 15 5 20 5 5 0
Planning 80 10 15 15 10 15 15 0
Other 160 5 30 5 15 15 30 30 30 0
Totals 476 35 38 35 35 35 35 38 35 50 35 35 35 35 0

Related Info-Tech Research

Modernize and Transform Your End-User Computing Strategy

This project helps support the workforce of the future by answering the following questions: What types of computing devices, provisioning models, and operating systems should be offered to end users? How will IT support devices? What are the policies and governance surrounding how devices are used? What actions are we taking and when? How do end-user devices support larger corporate priorities and strategies?

Implement Hardware Asset Management

This project will help you analyze the current state of your HAM program, define assets that will need to be managed, and build and involve the ITAM team from the beginning to help embed the change. It will also help you define standard policies, processes, and procedures for each stage of the hardware asset lifecycle, from procurement through to disposal.

Bibliography

aczechowski, et al. “Windows 11 Requirements.” Microsoft, 3 June 2022. Accessed 13 June 2022.

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