Windows 10 is now available for consumers, but for IT executives thinking about enterprise deployments, here's what the upgrade path from Window 7 or Windows 8/8.1 looks like.
The first step is to launch pilot projects this summer. For power users or bleeding edge companies that don't want to wait for the full complement of Windows 10 enterprise features, there will be a fall release of Windows 10 Enterprise and Professional Editions.
If you're waiting for the full-featured version, we're talking fourth quarter of this year. And if you're like many enterprises and typically wait until after the first patches and updates, then you're looking at the first quarter of next year.
This review covers Windows 10 Professional, Enterprise and Educational versions. The Educational edition is much like an "Ultimate" release, with all of the features of the Enterprise Edition in a single user-form.
For IT execs, the two big questions are whether a migration to Windows 10 will break anything and whether it has enough new features to make a migration worthwhile.
We installed Windows 10 Pro and Enterprise on a number of different installations, ranging from Windows 7 through 8.1 either as in-place upgrades to bare metal installations or upgrades to VMs. We found that there can be problems if your infrastructure isn't currently rock-solid. If there are current activation problems (usually found on BYOD devices), then you can't upgrade.
Strong pilot tests in an organization's sample of platforms -- especially hosting platforms such as Citrix XenServer upgrade hosts, VMware Horizon View upgraded hosts, and HTML5 remote consoles is strongly suggested prior to an organizational rollout.
One potential problem centers around the browser. If you must use prior editions of Internet Explorer for captive corporate apps, stop here, and do not upgrade as IE11 is mandated -- and the newly added Edge browser, while lovely and fast, is unlikely to suit you and is devoid of plug-ins at this time.
For many, IE11 use is not a problem, but for a handful of organizations with wide-spread IEX apps, changes are needed and piloting IE11 is recommended. Keep in mind that for all Windows 10 Versions, there is no backgrade/uninstall.
Unless you're using the Enterprise Edition, Microsoft's push of fixes, which can include default device drivers, could break user installations. That's why we recommend the Professional Version, which gives IT control over updates.
Otherwise, you need to trust Microsoft's ability to prevent large swaths of scorched PCs. Updates are already out for all versions of Windows 10, and instead of a "Patch Tuesday", they'll arrive quickly.
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