After first being announced earlier this year, Microsoft’s latest operating system (OS) Windows 11 was finally made available to a select number of users earlier this month.
The release of a new Windows OS was something of a surprise for many. After all, let’s not forget that when Windows 10 was first launched in July 2015 it was widely heralded as an OS for life, that would bring an end to the cyclical pattern of new Windows OS releases every few years.
The idea was that regular updates and patches would be able to successfully enable new capabilities and plug any security gaps without the need for a complete refresh. This approach has served Microsoft and its users well for over 6 years, but the time has finally come for Microsoft to move in a new direction.
The main driver for this course change is security. While Microsoft has always been able to upgrade Windows 10 with the latest security capabilities, increased demand for the support of device-enabled security features such as encryption and password-less access such as Windows Hello, has seen Microsoft up its game. It’s one of the main reasons why Windows 11 comes with a specific hardware requirement for TPM 2.0 support, a cryptographic PC module that helps to encrypt your data, better protect authentication credentials, and accurately identify and coordinate all software running on your system.
With the main reason for the release of Windows 11 established, one major question remains – should I be considering an upgrade for myself and my users?
As we’ve already highlighted, the Windows 11 release comes in the wake of an increased emphasis on security, so naturally those who are looking to ensure their users enjoy the best-possible levels of inbuilt protection will want to consider an upgrade, especially those working with confidential or sensitive information.
Microsoft’s own internal device tests have shown that the enablement of features such as Device Encryption and Windows Hello, both supported by Windows 11 and TPM 2.0 support, can reduce malware breaches by up to 60%. This is especially prevalent in the current climate, with over 80% of UK businesses falling victim to a successful cyber-attack in 2020/21.
But security isn’t the only reason to consider an upgrade. As you’d expect Microsoft has enhanced the user experience with Windows 11. Central to this is an upgraded user interface designed to deliver a Mac-style experience. This includes a sleek new rounded design style for apps and windows, as well as an improved taskbar.
In a nod to the growth of Microsoft Teams, there’s also a new Teams taskbar integration which will replace the Skype button available with Windows 10. This will allow users to open new chats and make calls via an intuitive pop-up without the need to open up the full Teams app.
With hybrid working becoming more prevalent, there’s also an improved virtual desktop feature that makes it simpler for users to split home and personal desktops on a single device. New localised virtual desktops can be created with ease on a single PC, allowing users to separate specific apps, files and features and ensure that a true work-life balance is preserved. It’s a feature that is especially helpful for those working within a bring your own device (BYOD) policy.
With an improved user experience and a focus on security there are some compelling reasons to make an early upgrade to Windows 11, but that doesn’t mean that you should jump right in.
One of the biggest reasons to consider postponing an upgrade is the TPM 2.0 support hardware requirement. Across a wide ranging and varied device estate it’s likely that some of your older devices don’t include this capability and therefore won’t be capable of upgrading to Windows 11.
This means that to implement an organisation-wide upgrade to the latest OS you will need to consider at least a partial device refresh, something which could prove to be an expensive undertaking at a time when IT budgets are being increasingly stretched.
Following the Windows 11 release Microsoft has confirmed that it will continue to fully support Windows 10 until 2025, giving those who require device upgrades plenty of time to undertake a refresh.
From an operational perspective, it’s also important to consider how the adoption of a brand new OS could impact your users. Understandably there will be a period of testing and refinement for Microsoft which will likely see changes and upgrades to Windows 11 over the next 6, 12 and even 18 months.
As leading analyst Gartner highlighted, any significant changes along the way could see your users having to undergo two or more learning curves to successfully adopt a new OS, especially with many applications and features yet to be fully optimised for Windows 11.
Ultimately the decision to upgrade to Windows 11 is dependent on both preference and individual circumstances. Those keen to access new features faster, benefit from a streamlined user experience, and crucially tap into the enhanced protections supported by Windows 11 should feel empowered to upgrade as soon as they are able.
Equally, those who are happy to stick with Windows 10 for the time being can do so safe in the knowledge that their users won’t be disadvantaged for a few years, with the freedom to implement an upgrade when the time is right for them.
Whatever your situation, our expert team is here to help. To learn more about the capabilities of Windows 11, discuss an immediate upgrade, or get advice on your long-term upgrade strategy, simply get in touch with us.