Windows 11 is here. It’s glorious but hold your horses!

Windows 11 is here

Windows 11 has arrived with a fresh new look, increased speed and a whole host of new and improved features. However, if your business is looking at Windows 11 and thinking, “we only just got off Windows 7”, now is the time to be thinking about the future.

 

You don’t need to update today of course; you officially have until the 14th of October 2025 to get your estate from Windows 10 to 11. However, as many businesses learnt the hard way with Windows 7, the migration to a new operating system is not all plain sailing.

 

Windows 11 brings its own complications and challenges, when it comes to application support, hardware support and the overall end user experience. All of these can be overcome but only if the business understands them and understands how to combat them.

 

How should you start the roll-out?

Our suggested approach is that from November 2021, a strategic steering group be created within your business to test, run, and live with Windows 11 as their primary business device. The aim of this is to begin to unpick the operating system in your business and ultimately to ensure business functionality.

 

We will recommend that for these users, a spare Windows 10 device is kept in your office to provide to these members of staff in the case of a failure. This will ensure your user can get back working in a short space of time, however as a business you need to start assessing and understanding the impact that Windows 11 will have on the company and then laying the foundations for migrating across to the platform with-in one year from active support (October 2022).

windows 11 surface devices

Why starting early is key for business continuity.

This adoption is crucial because many businesses were impacted negatively by holding onto Windows 7 for far too long past its good end of life. This was in part due to the fact the businesses had not invested the time into ensuring they understood the business change and how to successfully manage this. It is vital that this process is started early, the issues learned and how to overcome these. From this you can then develop a staged team by team plan, alongside the testing to ensure that once a satisfactory level of business support and satisfaction is reached that users begin to migrate over from Windows 10 to 11.

 

The Big Rollout.

We suggest completing the migration in a team by team, location by location and in a phased approach. We would suggest that any business needs to be off Windows 10, 1 year before the end of support in 2025 as you do not want to be in the same potion that many where come the end of Windows 7 support. You must remember that once this date hits any system still on this legacy operating system will be at risk from attack and will increasingly be a target for cyber criminals.

 

If you would like to discuss with myself or any of the Technical Architecture team at Planet IT about how you can get ready for Windows 11 you can reach us using the contact details below.

 

Contact me at – LinkedIn Message James Dell or Email: james.dell@planet-it.net

 

Call 01235 433900 or Email: architecture@planet-it.net

windows 11 launch

Windows 365 – Windows 11 Comes to your Browser!!

Cloud PC Windows 11

Microsoft has just announced a new “Cloud PC” product where users can stream windows devices from anywhere!

When COVID-19 hit, many people in offices were forced to start working from home. Because of this, Microsoft sped up into the development of Windows 365 so people, wherever and whenever, can work more collaboratively.

Windows 365 will work similarly to what we know as game streaming. The computer will be hosted in a data centre, somewhere remotely, and then streamed to local technology.

This means all sorts of devices from anywhere, ranging from family computers in your home to monitors in the office, that runs Windows desktop can leverage Windows 365 and then you can close the session knowing that your data is safe, secure and saved.

Security Is Key

It is way more secure than working on a local PC, as your local PC is most likely full of personal applications, data and untrustworthy applications, which may go against your business practices. Windows 365 then solves multiple problems such as keeping Word documents and important PDFs where they belong, in business cloud storage, and not at risk of exploitation.

Additionally, Windows 365 will have ultra-fast connections to Azure and Office 365 data, which is very useful when it comes to handling data and finding sufficient ways of sharing workload amongst peers.

Microsoft is marketing it as the new way of using a PC, they want to find a way of demonstrating and solving the difficulties of working from home, so as they state, it is a “hybrid Windows for a hybrid world”.

 

So when do we get to see it, and how does it work?

The software will launch in August for business customers of all sizes however under the technical covers of it all, it is built on Azure Virtual Desktop and managed through Microsoft Endpoint Manager (MEM), Microsoft’s cloud-hosted device and application management solution and for those without MEM, tools are directly integrated into the Cloud PC portal. A MEM licence is therefore not essential.

Windows will also use multi-factor authentication capabilities and admins can apply security policies using MEM if needed. Furthermore, Microsoft has designed a custom “security baseline” meaning a set of policies can be applied to Windows 365 as a simple baseline, however, you can modify this to fit your criteria.

There are even plans in the future for an offline mode, though this will not be included in the initial release. When that happens, they would then be supporting an offline mode where the whole virtualisation environment can run locally and be isolated from your local operating system. When your connection gets restored then that workload will automatically move back up into the cloud. In the complex cybersecurity environment we have seen, businesses need a solution that helps their employees collaborate, share and create while also keeping their data secure.

If you want further information about Windows 365 and how this could change your business practices, then please feel free to reach out and get in contact using the details below

Call 01235 433900 or Email : architecture@planet-it.net

 

Harriet Besford

This article was written by 17 year old Harriet Besford, a Didcot Sixth Form student who joined us at Planet IT for a week’s work experience. Harriet has a keen interest in Cyber Security with plans to study it at University. I think from reading this article, you will agree that she has a strong future in this field!

 

It’s Time Your Business Adopted UEM, And This Is Why!

UEM Endpoint Device Management

The way in which we manage our workforces’ devices is changing. Gone are the days of large, overly complicated on-premise management solutions like Quest (Dell) KACE and Microsoft System Centre. With the continued drive of remote working, flexibility and ultimately employee separation our management tools need to change, now.

Luckily, Microsoft where ready for this move to remote management. They and have spent a long time and A LOT of investment in turning the 2011 product of Microsoft Intune into the 2021 product, which is now known as Microsoft Endpoint Manager, a now formidable UEM (Unified Endpoint Management) tool.

Evolution – just in the nick of time

The original Intune product was designed to answer the question of the time: How to we provide some form of management to the changing device landscape? With the launch of new form factors, and splitting operating systems at the time, this EMM (Endpoint Mobility Management) tool focused on delivering the same basic functional control across the spectrum of devices it supported.

Microsoft is not a company to miss a shift in the market. They released that as we moved into the late 2010’s and into 2020’s that business no longer wanted two products, one to manage devices onsite and one to manage them in the cloud. With this they began the process of taking the features from Microsoft’s System Centre Configuration Manager and merging them with the EMM tool, Microsoft Intune.

This process happened just in time to be ready for the world shifting events of Early 2020. The now mature product from Microsoft gave the best of Config Manager, Intune’s EMM and the fringe features of MDM and MAM that the suite had been dabbling with.

intune device management

So, the question then becomes, why are you not using it?

For nearly all business in 2021 Microsoft Endpoint Manager can play a huge part in ensuring:

1. All your devices controlled,

2. Windows is up to date,

3. patches and software are being deployed and managed.

This on its own takes away 3 key functions you may have existing systems in place to support. However, the largest success for Microsoft Endpoint Manager comes in the form of flexibility. Your users don’t need to be on your VPN, in your network or even in your country to get software updates or even new packages.

This is only then strengthened when we look at the white glove, of out of box experience which can be leveraged with Autopilot.

UEM Device managementImagine you never had to build a laptop again!!

Wouldn’t that just be great? Not only that, but imagine that if a device needed to be moved from user to user. Then you could remotely reset and deploy a fresh version of the operating system and all applications to the device, join it to the domain and have it ready to be reused.

Well with Endpoint Manager and Autopilot you can do just that! The core logic behind the approach is that you don’t need to touch a device to get it ready to use.

Now this can either be directly from the factory or on a previously managed device. This will reduce the time to resolution on support issues and ultimately free up you and your team to work on project that are more important.

With this process, gone are the days of creating a gold image having to run sysprep and then trying to configure the Out of Box Experience with an answer file. Microsoft has simplified this down to a steps-based process. This uses the latest image from Microsoft alongside an answer file based on the Microsoft Endpoint Manager interface, not on a text file. This combined gives you a great position to show business improvements from a system implementation.

Where can YOU make improvements?

The biggest question to ask yourself is where could you optimise your;

  • device management,
  • system imaging,
  • software deployments,
  • application installations and updates,
  • operating system updates
  • and device provisioning?

If the answer is that any of these could be improved, then Microsoft Endpoint Manager is the platform you need to be looking into.

These are just some examples of what Microsoft Endpoint Manager can do. I would be remised to say that the above is a fair representation of all that the suite has to offer. The product is massively impressive and continues to develop and grow as Microsoft as a company moves away from the legacy of its on premise-based solutions to a truly cloud driven SaaS approach.

I know taking this step might seem like a leap in certain circumstances. However, I am always available to discuss how you can leverage better device management for your business. As are the rest of the Technical Architecture team at Planet IT

Please feel free to reach out using the contact details below:

Contact me at – LinkedIn Message James Dell or Email : james.dell@planet-it.net

Call 01235 433900 or Email : architecture@planet-it.net

Windows 11. Huge Steps Forward, But The Death Of Many Devices

windows 11

Microsoft have announced Windows 11!

For now, we can ignore the fact that Microsoft promised that Windows 10 was the last Windows version…. and all the other misleading info around this new version even existing. Windows 11 is here, and it has LOTS of improvements and design changes.

However, this article is not to talk about those. As Windows users, we all know that the move from OS to OS can be hard. Businesses struggle to get the user base, applications and configuration from your current version of Windows to a new one. It can be a mammoth task!

You won’t have a choice to keep Windows 10

That said we know Microsoft will ultimately force your hand. In 2025 Windows 10 will lose support and join XP and 7 in the list of operating systems people continue to use even though they are not supported or safe.

The big change with Windows 11 is that a number of hardware items that were previously supported with Windows 10 will no longer be supported. This is what drove me to write this article. It means many businesses will need to replace a lot of machines. So, I wanted to highlight the devices you may have that are now on a limited life span, a ticking clock as it were, to the end of support.

The official Windows 11 requirements:

  • Two Process cores of 1Ghz or higher
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 64GB of Storage
  • TPM 1.2 or higher with Secure Boot Capabilities

Windows 11 devices

What this therefore means, is that Intel’s i3, i5 and i7 processors from the 6th and 7th get are not eligible to update to Windows 11. While on the AMD side all A and Fx Series processors are not supported. Ryzen 1000 and 2000 chips will also not support Windows 11.

Now this is a big change as Microsoft. In the past they have done their best to only remove a small number of devices from support. This was truefor upgrades to Windows 8, 8.1 and 10 all supporting the same devices which could run Windows 7.

What does that mean for my IT estate?

Audit now! You need to understand which devices you have that won’t be supported on Windows 11 and they need to enter a hardware refresh plan in the next 3 years. By 2025, these devices must be replaced.

For many this won’t be an issue. But for some education and small businesses, this is going to be a large finical burden. These changes can also hit companies using custom built PC’s which use hardware which may be from cross generations. There’s a chance these will not support the Windows 11 software.

If you are struggling to understand which devices will and won’t accept Windows 11, there is a tool from Microsoft which will tell you in your device is eligible to run the Windows 11 which you can get here: https://aka.ms/GetPCHealthCheckApp

If you would like to discuss with myself or any of the Technical Architecture team at Planet IT about how you can get ready for Windows 11 you can reach us usin:

LinkedIN: James Dell

Or email james.dell@planet-it.net

install windows 11

Working From Home – Done Right

working from home done right

As we enter a second lockdown across England and the other parts of the U.K. go through their own local restrictions. It has never been more important to have the right working set up in your home office. Long gone is the “it’s only short term” justification. Working from home is here for the long term and with this latest wave of guidelines we look at what equipment you need to make home working successful.

A Decent Sized Monitor

Working on a laptop screen is fine for a few hours, now and again however if you are working for 8 hours a day for the next 4 weeks and possibly beyond on a 13 to 15″ screen you are going to be straining your eyes, potentially hurting your neck as you try to get into the right position to see the screen. The first stage of getting a Display Screen Equipment (DSE) safe working space is having a good size monitor, I find that a screen between 23″ to 27″ is ideal for working day to day, with bigger screens great if you have the space to accommodate it. Try to position your screen at eye level to you’re not looking up or down at it which will strain your next and upper back.

External Keyboard and Mouse

Laptops are an ergonomics nightmare where your hands are stretching over a trackpad onto a smaller keyboard. To reduce the strain on your hands the best option is to get an external keyboard, one that is either Bluetooth or uses a multi adapter like the range from Logitech which allows keyboards and Mice and other accessories to only need a single USB adapter. The keyboard and mouse you get should suit your working needs, if that’s a large marble mouse, an ergonomic mouse or a split keyboard it should reduce the effort you have to go through to use your device all day everyday.

Home working

A Wireless Headset

We are all so use to Microsoft Teams and Zoom now, however the number of calls I join where people are rocking the iPhone headset or even worse a wired set of cheap headphones they got for the gym, the sound is awful and it makes the disconnect of video conferencing worse. What I recommend from personnel experience is you look to get a decent wireless headset designed for video conferencing it will not only make your life easier, to prevents you leaning into the screen because the headphone lead is to short. These devices don’t have to be expensive but nearly all come with active noise cancelling in both the microphone and headphones, which will elevate your conferencing experience.

A good webcam

To pair with your headset an external web camera is always better that the small sensor on the laptops built in camera (if you have one), this allows you to position it above your monitor so that everyone is looking at your face and not up your nose. I have noticed a massive difference between using my web cam vs using my laptops built in device, I feel more relaxed on calls and it allows my posture to remain good throughout.

A Dock

So we are talking about plugging in a monitor, keyboard, headset and doing this in a easy way, well the easiest way to achieve this is by placing all your connections into an easy to attach dock. There are many of these devices from click and lock devices, to USB C and generic 3rd Party port replicators. Find a device that works with your laptop and has the inputs you need to support your monitor and other accessories, this will make it much easier to connect your device should you need to move it that much quicker.

Home working setup

A decent chair

Regardless of if you are working from the dinning room table or a dedicated desk, a key part of setting up a home working environment is the chair, get something that is supportive , adjustable and comfortable. Don’t use your dinning room chair or a breakfast bar stool. These are bad for your posture and could end up making your 8 hours feel like 80.

 

We are in unprecedented times and you may never have considered home working before this year, however the team at Planet IT are here to help. Get in contact today via contact details below if you need advice and guidance on how to make your home working the best it can be;

Contact me at – LinkedIn Message James Dell or Email : james.dell@planet-it.net

Talk to the rest of the team – Call 01235 433900 or Email : enquires@planet-it.net

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