What to expect with Windows 11

Published on June 30, 2021 by

Paul Deur

Microsoft has announced the launch of the next generation of Windows. Following much industry speculation, it’s now confirmed that Windows 11 is on the horizon. But how long will Windows 10 be supported? What new features will be made available in Windows 11? What tools will you need to manage updates? And what can you expect when Microsoft releases it to everyone? We’ve laid out everything we know now to help you prepare your enterprise IT environment.

Productivity, Creativity and Gaming: Here’s what we know about Windows 11

Following an unprecedented 18 months in which many of us merged our home and business lives, Microsoft says that with Windows 11, it has built a “space that feels familiar where you can create, learn, play, produce, and maybe most importantly - connect - in all new ways.” Recognizing how reliant we have become on our devices, Microsoft says Windows 11 will help make us more ‘productive and creative’, but it is also becoming more consumer and gaming focused.  

Microsoft describes it as the most secure Windows yet. And perhaps with a nod to the anxiety and burnout many have experienced during the pandemic, Microsoft intends the experience of Windows 11 to inspire a sense of ‘calm’. Microsoft is also introducing features that may help to create some much-needed separation between our home and work lives even as homeworking continues.

New sounds, designs and rounded corners – here’s what we know about the Windows 11 OS:

  • The user interface gets a facelift with a more natural, streamlined, distinctly Apple-like feel and a centered start menu “dock”.
  • It’ll be easier to personalize your view with Windows widgets, while snap layouts will allow you to tailor multiple screens to fit any device for better multi-tasking.
  • Android apps will be easier to download via the Microsoft Store for any device and you’ll seamlessly move between devices with the same look and feel, picking up where you left off.
  • Snap groups sitting in your taskbar will allow you to group apps for different projects so you can switch tasks and manage interruptions better.
  • Microsoft Teams will be integrated to streamline work allowing users to share documents without opening the Teams app.
  • You’ll be able to create separate desktop views for different parts of your life – work, home, gaming, and school – grouping the apps you need during every part of your day.
  • You can expect a faster experience over your devices – including start up and browsing – and better battery usage.
  • Choose how you interact: type, touch, voice, click or write.
  • Microsoft Store is redefined, and it will be easier for developers to bring new apps to the store.

Availability and Support for Windows 10

Windows 11 will be made available ‘by the holidays’ – so probably November or December. A pre-release will be available first for developers to test and certify before it’s available to all. Microsoft says that ‘most devices purchased in the last 18-24 months will be compatible with Windows 11.’ You can verify Windows 11 requirements to find out what is compatible and feed into your hardware refresh program ahead of your update.

What do we know about support for Windows 10? On the Windows 10 Home and Pro page, Microsoft says it will ‘continue to support at least one Windows 10 semi-annual channel until October 14, 2025’. Windows 10 was available for two years before Windows 7 was declared end of life so it’s likely that Microsoft will still deliver Windows 10 feature updates through 2023.

The Windows 10 spring 2021 update was a small one, and Microsoft has now said it will deliver Windows 10 version 21H2 with “new updates to current features that enable hybrid work like Universal Print and enhancements to management and deployment features like Windows Autopilot.” If, like many others you’re updating your enterprise annually, you may want to start preparing now for the next Windows 10 update.

Managing updates in Windows 11

Microsoft will deliver feature updates once per year during the second half of each year as well as regular monthly quality updates providing security updates and bug fixes. It says “since Windows 11 is built on the same foundation as Windows 10, you can use the same deployment capabilities, scenarios, and tools—as well as the same basic deployment strategy that you use today for Windows 10. You will need to review and update your servicing strategy to adjust for changes in servicing and support for Windows 11”.

Microsoft suggests the strategy, at a high-level, should include:

  • Creating a deployment plan.
  • Defining readiness criteria.
  • Evaluating infrastructure and tools.
  • Determining application readiness.
  • Defining your servicing strategy.

During the livestream Microsoft said Windows updates will be smaller, lighter, and more efficient – making them easier to install. That probably sounds like music to your ears but as we all know, nothing is ever that simple. It’s going to take some time to prepare and train teams on the new features. And given the focus on increasing productivity, it’s possible you may be asked to evaluate and rollout Windows 11 sooner than later. But it’s clear that as you prepare for the fall Windows 10 update, you should be keeping an eye on how the new features in Windows 11 will affect your enterprise IT environment.

Plan for success

For any Windows update, planning is critical:

  • Get a clear view of all your moving parts and dependencies between your users, systems and applications by collating data from your tools, databases, directories and spreadsheets.
  • Given that your sources will likely have conflicting data (tools aren’t always that up to date) you are going to have anomalies and data gaps that you need to clean up. Talk to users and managers to find out more.
  • Define a testing plan for your applications. We suggest limiting pre-testing to critical applications and using software pilots to validate others and cut testing time.
  • Prepare your schedule by working with teams to understand blackout days and define your wave rollout plan.
  • Identify any hardware that is due for replacement to exclude from updates.

If you’re doing things manually, it’s going to take time to prepare your enterprise for the next Windows 10 update and for Windows 11. Given how long it takes to collate and clean information, you will always be working with old information that can adversely impact your project. So, what can you do to aid success?

Adopt intelligent automation using ReadyWorks

ReadyWorks automates 50% or more repetitive tasks to take the hassle out of any Windows deployment. By connecting to and orchestrating your systems, tools, databases, and directories you can:

  • Access a single, centralized view of project data, updated in real time whenever changes are made to your source data.
  • Prioritize data sources to reduce anomalies and leverage automated workflows triggered by gaps in the data to find the information and complete your view.
  • Access dependency maps showing how all your project components interact and identify readiness for deployment – so you can better plan for testing and roll out.
  • Leverage a self-service portal to cut the time you spend manually communicating with users on scheduling and validation activities.
  • Benefit from automated team, system and tool tasks triggered by events and dates to cut the hassle of your rollout, including sub-projects such as hardware refresh programs and end user communications.
  • Implement automated mitigation plans to address issues as your roll out progresses.
  • Access databases and dashboards that allow you to create links to real-time reports in minutes to dramatically cut reporting time.

With ReadyWorks you can cut through the clutter to manage your upcoming Windows 10 updates and gain a clear view of your enterprise environment to prepare for Windows 11.