We are now about seven months away from a critical deadline for every state and local government agency with PCs, which basically means all of them: Jan. 14, 2020.
After that date, government agencies will need to pay Microsoft to deliver regular security patches for Windows 7 devices, since the software giant will no longer issue regular security updates for the platform. Meanwhile, Windows 10 offers agencies a wide range of new security features.
Alan Shark, the Public Technology Institute’s executive director, tells StateTech in a recent interview that the PTI members he has spoken to say their local government’s Windows migration efforts are on solid footing.
“Many already had a refresh schedule for PCs and laptops and are taking the date very seriously,” Shark says. “Most people have thought it through well in advance of the deadline.”
What if you don’t make it? Extended support will be available, but comes at a per-device cost that will increase until the support expires at the end of January 2023. (Note: Internet Explorer 11 remains compatible with Windows 10, but it’s the last version of that browser, which is being replaced by Microsoft Edge.)
That’s why it is critical for state and local government IT leaders to accelerate their migration plans if they haven’t already done so. Here are some best practices for making the migration easier on you and your IT staff.
Top Tips for Windows 10 Migration
The first and most important migration task for IT leaders is to conduct an inventory of every PC, endpoint and piece of software (including those applications users have downloaded without your knowledge) to determine which pieces of IT equipment need to be migrated to Windows 10. Some PCs can be upgraded to Windows 10, but some will be so old that the agency will need to purchase new equipment with Windows 10 already installed.
IT leaders need to determine how many Windows 7 users they have, how capable they will be of moving to Windows 10 and whether their roles are so critical that their work cannot be interrupted by the migration. Microsoft offers toolkits and other analytics to assist IT teams with this task. After that, IT leaders should select and create a pilot group of users who can start testing how Windows 10 performs and how they interact with it.
Once all of the kinks have been ironed out and agency staff feels comfortable using the platform, IT leaders can start plans for actual deployments. The rollouts should be staggered so IT experts and hardcore beta users go first, followed by less experienced users. Crucially, you should avoid deploying Windows 10 to mission-critical staff in the middle of a project. Another best practice Microsoft recommends is the use of deployment rings, which can make the rollout process smoother. Under this methodology, each ring includes users from a variety of departments so that problems limited to one department can be seen more quickly and affect only a few people at a time.
Moving to Windows 10 is a major undertaking, but it’s one that all agencies need to start pursuing with alacrity if they haven’t already. These tips can help get your agency started and make the migration a smooth one.