07 Nov 2012

Tips for preparing for Windows 8

Planning to upgrade to Windows 8? Here’s how to prepare for roll out. Windows 8 has arrived, delivering a whole new user experience. Its new interface, performance improvements, integrated cloud computing and better security features are set to bring huge benefits to businesses. Microsoft has also provided a range of free upgrade tools which should be all you need to make the move. But also keep in mind the following checklist: Compatibility Check If you are already running Windows 7, you are all good in terms of hardware requirements. Add some extra RAM and an SSD if possible for minimal cost. Windows 8 is more efficient and makes better use of these resources. Spring clean It’s always best to start fresh where possible. Keeping documents but not settings from your old OS is the best strategy. Periodically freeing up disk space is always good practice, and an OS upgrade is a good opportunity. However migrating from Windows 7 to Windows 8, this isn’t as critical as it once was. Back up Properly configured deployment infrastructure using MDT (Microsoft Deployment Toolkit) means this is no longer required. Do it on the boss’s PC anyway – just in case. Use of USMT (User State Migration Tool) and in particular hard link migration gives rise to a quick and efficient upgrade process with no need for excessive network storage. Licensing If you’re already using VAMT (Volume Activation Management Tool) you should find this a smooth process. Microsoft Assessment Nothing beats real world testing with a properly selected pilot group. Planning will only get you so far before you need to try it and see. In particular, in-house developed apps may have issues with IE10. Educate users Windows 8 will be a steep learning curve before additional productivity is obtained. It’s best to speed this up with a quick training session and possibly a cheat sheet for common tasks which are now completely different. For example shutting down, switching between metro apps and standard apps, and finding the control panel. Encourage users to play around with the features so they gain familiarity. Build Momentum Once you get a few installs dotted around the place with the right kind of tech savvy users to get the buzz happening, people will start asking for it. Brennan IT’s beta test group has grown to approximately 15% of all staff. Synergy with SharePoint, Lync and Windows Phone All these Microsoft technologies now work better together. In particular, SharePoint provides a bridge between mobile devices, remote users and the Windows 8 SOE (standard operating environment). Make it fun There are a lot of cool features in Windows 8 that are not completely work related, but still make the experience of using the OS better. One example is the People application that consolidates contacts from a variety of sources, including Exchange, Twitter, SharePoint, Facebook, etc. Moving or upgrading to any new operating system often involves a few teething problems. But by being well prepared, your transition should be as seamless as possible. Are you upgrading to Windows 8? What steps have you taken to prepare? Dougan McMurray is Brennan IT’s IT Manager.