How to Coordinate Windows Updates With IT Asset Management

Published on September 21, 2021 by

Paul Deur

If you manage your enterprise Windows updates, the news that Microsoft is moving away from Windows-as-a-Service may fill you with dread. There is some good news however. Microsoft is lengthening support for each of its Windows 11 updates to 36 months so you'll have some leeway on when to roll out. But, if you want your end users to leverage the latest features, you may need to continue with annual Windows servicing.

You may have already resigned yourself to going through the pain and effort of rolling out updates annually or every other year – or maybe you have decided to incorporate the cost of hiring additional help. After all, we know that we need to apply some effort to understanding how your applications will react. (Find out more in our blogs about how to and test applications ahead of Windows updates.) But if you don’t have unlimited time, headcount, or budget – and let’s face it, who does right now? - you’ll probably be looking for ways to simplify.

One way of doing that is to integrate Windows servicing within your IT asset management program. In any year you are likely to replace a proportion of hardware – perhaps about 1/3rd of all your end users’ machines will be nearing end of life. But that’s just part of the story. Read on to find out what to look out for to integrate Windows Servicing in your IT lifecycle management program to reduce your stress and effort.

Step 1: Get to know your environment

Ahead of your Windows update (whatever your schedule) think about what hardware you want to replace. Run network and systems scans using your systems management tools to see what’s on the system and what components are installed. Remember you’ll only see what’s currently on the network so if you are managing a global roll out you may want to run system scans at different times of the day. And don’t forget that remote working is going to make it harder as more people flex their working hours. To get a more complete list you’re going to have to look at what’s in your CMDB and analyze the data.

Step 2: Identify machines nearing end-of-life

You aren’t going to rollout a Windows update to machines that are near end of life (EOL) when you can deliver a new machine with the update already installed. Identify which machines you plan to replace to exclude them from the Windows migration 

Step 3: Find out which machines don’t meet update requirements

It’s not just end-of-life you need to look out for, you should understand what’s required of your hardware components to successfully roll out the update – whether that’s free memory, which BIOS version is needed, or any other requirement. Microsoft has released the system requirements for Windows 11 so you can begin checking the compatibility of your assets if you are thinking of upgrading in the near future.

Filter your source data based on those requirements and decide whether you can put in place simple fixes, or if you should replace those assets. 

Step 4: Create a process for hardware refresh

If you don’t have one in place already, you need to create a plan that incorporates:

  • Communicating with end users who are affected by the hardware refresh program. Given that many people are still working remotely at this time it’s a good idea to confirm shipping details and their specific hardware requirements.
  • Communicating with the IT technicians who will build, box, and ship the machines.
  • Sending a follow-up email to end users to provide them with set-up instructions as well as a reminder(s) on how to return old equipment.
  • Incorporating returned machines and other assets into your IT asset disposition (ITAD) process.

Step 5: Repeat the process

Microsoft has already announced it will continue supporting at least one Windows 10 semi-annual channel until October 2025, so given that Windows 10 was available for two years before Windows 7 became EOL, feature updates could continue through 2023. But as already mentioned, with Windows 11 feature updates supported for 36 months, you may have more time.

Knowing this you can decide when you will roll out Windows updates throughout your organization – and while you may have a few early adopters that updates are rolled out to – overall, it’s likely you’ll wait a few months after Microsoft issues new features to ensure any blips are ironed out. If you’re managing your hardware asset lifecycle program manually, and you don’t have the resources to manage a hardware refresh alongside the rollout, you’ll likely want to start the hardware program a few months ahead of time. 

Adopt automation to further simplify the process

By incorporating this process into your IT lifecycle management program, you'll be able to reduce some of the effort associated with Windows updates. To reduce the effort even further, leverage the capabilities of a digital platform conductor.  

See how you can leverage ReadyWorks to cut 50% of manual tasks as you integrate Windows Servicing in your IT lifecycle management program.  Schedule a demo today.