How can you ensure your applications are compatible in Windows 10?

By Richard Bond, Esteem's Pre-Sales Architect

In recent months, we have seen a significant rise in the number and size of organisations looking to take the next step in their desktop transformation and move to Windows 10. Indeed, with the announcement of Windows-as-a-Service, and Windows 10 being dubbed as 'the final upgrade', it's no wonder businesses are looking to make the move. But as the size of the organisation increases, so does the complexity of such endeavours.

The Windows-as-a-Service concept is driven by continual system updates that increase the functionality and security of the product over time. This ongoing update requirement can cause compatibility concerns for organisations with complex application estates. This risk can be partially mitigated by enrolling devices on to various service branches which control the frequency of updates provided by Microsoft - allowing organisations to delay their installation while testing is performed. The "Current Branch for Business" option delays updates by a number of months after rollout to consumers, while the "Long Term Service Branch" removes the OS from receiving updates for the supported lifetime of a product. This particular branch is intended for embedded systems that perform mission critical workloads and is dependent on the organisation having Software Assurance from Microsoft.

Understanding all these changes introduced by Windows 10 and preparing your organisation for a desktop transformation project can be a daunting process that requires consideration of a range of issues, including:

  • Image Creation
  • Platform and Application Delivery
  • Ongoing Management
  • Identity and Security
  • Application and Hardware Compatibility

This final item, compatibility testing, can be addressed by using a free tool currently in preview from Microsoft. Windows 10 Upgrade Analytics preview can help evaluate your IT estate both before, and after upgrading to assess software and hardware compatibility against the current release of Windows 10.

The Windows 10 Upgrade Analytics preview forms part of the Operations Management Suite (OMS) - Microsoft's cloud based analytics tool to help organisations gather insights into their IT estate telemetry and metrics. Setup of the service is relatively straight forward:

  • Register for a OMS tenant and add the Upgrade Analytics solution
  • Generate a unique ID to tie your devices to the tenant
  • Allow telemetry traffic through your firewall
  • Deploy the relevant Windows update
  • Run the deployment script on required endpoint

The tool will take several minutes to run on each machine and data will show up in the OMS dashboard within 48 hours. The report will then provide the following information:

  • Up-to-date application and driver inventory, including usage data
  • Information about known application and driver issues as well as guidance on how to mitigate them
  • A way to track whether an application or driver is ready for Windows 10 in your organisation
  • Per-Device readiness information which you use to target devices for Windows 10 deployments

There are a couple of 'gotchas' to be aware of from the tool. It only works on Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 and requires a non-authenticated proxy to send the telemetry to the cloud service. However, as a free tool that gives an overview of the task ahead in migration, it's worth checking out.

Of course, understanding your current environments compatibility status with Windows 10 is only part of the process. Further work in application consolidation, OS imaging, deployment planning and end user engagement are all vital to ensuring a successful desktop transformation project.

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