10 key warnings for your Windows 10 migration

8. Your Win7 machines can likely handle the shift — but watch out for drivers

I hear a lot of complaints from organizations that tried to upgrade to Win10 but hit a stumbling block and quickly returned to Win7. They’re once burnt and twice shy, don’t want to head down that trail again, and for good reason.

If you’ve encountered problems making the move, and you’re caught between a rock and a hard end of lifetime deadline, keep two things in mind. First, at least in my experience, drivers are responsible for a lot of the angst. Make sure you have the right drivers (and firmware!) before you try again. Many hardware manufacturers refuse to update their drivers for Win10 — they stand to make more money by convincing you to buy a new machine (or new version of their product), rather than provide a free update for an older one. Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do about it, other than vote with your pocketbook.

Second, the Win10 installer is getting better. If you bounced off the version 1507 installer (that’s for the original version of Windows 10 “RTM”), you’re going to find the upgrade to 1703 (Creators Update) or 1709 (Fall Creators Update) may go much more smoothly.

It’s quite unusual for a working Win7 machine, with updated BIOS and Win10 drivers at hand, to crash and burn on an upgrade to Win10 1703.

9. Don’t try to go cold turkey

There will be many people — perhaps a majority, and especially your most experienced users — who don’t want to dump the old, familiar machine and its quirks, replacing it with a new operating system, or even a flashy new machine. Bribing a stalwart Win7 user with a fancy new tablet may not be the best approach.

Several times, I’ve seen a gradual approach work better. When influential users are given the option of running with their old machine at the same time they’re trying out a new machine, they’ll frequently find themselves migrating to the new machine, even if they feel more comfortable in Win7. The biggest impetus I’ve seen: They start using Win10 outside of work, and warm up to using it at the office.

Lots of carrots. Hold off on the sticks.

10. Expect everything to change, quickly

The concepts, terminology and approaches of “Windows as a Service” have all changed in the past couple of years. Some of the defining aspects of Windows as a Service, as it was first defined, no longer exist. There’s no Current Branch for Business, for example, nor is there a coherent Windows Update for Business framework. Both of those concepts were tossed away in the past few months, compliments of a handful of official blog posts.

You can think of the morphs as Microsoft making it up as they go along, or adapting to changing circumstances. Or you can view it as a result of stumbling to do something that’s never been done before. Regardless of the backstory, what you know now about Windows 10 may well become obsolete in the next few months.

Unlike the days of XP and Win7 and 8.1, when you had a major shift at most every few years, the future won’t be so stable.

That means you have to keep up to date. No, you don’t have to don a Mixed Reality headset (although you may enjoy it!). No need to consult Cortana or ink a web page in Edge, write a Linux program, use emojis (much less animojis) or remix a story. Running the latest beta builds will drive you nuts, guaranteed, but that’s always been the case.

The world’s changing fast. Even with Windows.