I remember when I was growing up in the land of Windows XP. There were about a thousand different ways to deploy Windows and all of them were hard. Then came the transition to Windows 7 (we'll look beyond Vista, although I ran it at a company and it was fine sorta). It took organizations YEARS to deploy Windows 7. The reasons are varied but they can all be broken into groups of application compatibility, don't fix what ain't broke and, my favorite, money. Of those reasons one stood above them all - it...was...hard. Drivers, MDT, WDS, SCCM, PXE, Drivers, HTAs, VBScript, Sysprep, Drivers, USMT, MBAM, Task Sequences, Drivers and...did I mention Drivers?
It was easier to just stay put. Companies that finally got off of Windows XP and onto 7 (I just finished helping a company last week wrap their Windows 7 deployment up) and they were exhausted. Tons of money, tons of time, tons of problems. And there it was - Windows 7 in all its glory. A reason to celebrate! A modern operating system that looked and felt very similar to XP. Just one problem. Windows 7 was released in 2009. A few things have happened since then. For example, mainstream support has already ended for it! Add to that, the Internet got really scary and companies started getting hacked so often that my wife and I just roll our eyes when we get a letter telling them all of our financial or medical information has been stolen again.
Microsoft had a choice. Adoption in the business world for 8 wasn't happening, so they did the best thing they could - figure out how to get people from 7 straight to 10 without the pain experienced from XP to 7. The alternative was to let Windows ride off into sunset. The end result? This is where you insert a drumroll:
It is the recommendation from Microsoft that all computers in a business be in place upgraded from Windows 7 or Windows 8. You do not have to reimage your PCs!
What the what? Yep, you heard that right campers - one of Microsoft's main accomplishments with Windows 10 is that applications and hardware compatibility are the same and you can upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10 by upgrading in place. No - not just can - YOU SHOULD. Why? Because imaging is hard! Well, to be fair, it too has gotten fantastically better and deploying a Windows 10 image is about a bagillion times easier than before. There is also a new deployment option that I'll talk about next time, but for today, know that getting onto Windows 10 is easy and it will work with your existing apps. You already have your computers just so with their printers, drivers, apps, GPOs, etc - just roll it out and do it quickly. Then you will be able to take advantage of all of the great new capabilities and features. But those capabilities and features (of which I will highlight many in the coming weeks) are not the reason for upgrading with all due urgency. Why roll it out now? The internet is a much different place than when Windows 7 came out and the security stance of Windows is light years ahead of where 7 was. We'll spend whole blog entries on the how and why soon, but for now, just know - Windows 10 is the most secure operating system on the planet and it has been designed to be serviced in a way that can adjust its stance as the threat landscape evolves. More on that next time.