Microsoft presented a preliminary version of its new operating system, Windows 11, last week in a roughly forty-five minute long video announcement. This is the first official confirmation of a new operating system from Microsoft since the release of its previous operating system, Windows 10, in 2015. Windows is arguably the most widely employed operating system for both personal and business use. Thus, the update will likely affect everyone's daily lives, even if they don't immediately switch to Windows 11 upon its release. Windows 11 is slated for release during the holiday season of 2021--no official release date has been announced--, and any enterprise that already uses a Windows platform to do their business will need to keep a few things in mind when deciding to upgrade.
Changes to Expect
According to the announcement video, many of the changes one can expect to see in the new OS stem from the upending of people's daily routines following the COVID-19 outbreak. When the CDC and state governments implemented their 'shelter in place' mandates, many professionals had no choice but to work out of their homes, forcing them to rely more heavily upon their computers to do business and communicate. Even for those people who did not migrate their work lives to their screens, the risk of spreading the virus forced the cancellation of many social events and recreation activities. This inevitably limited people's in-person interactions with each other. With this in mind, Windows 11 plans to implement numerous changes to make thriving in this new way of life easier.
These changes include an updated user interface, which will supposedly make it easier to work in multiple Windows at once. Moreover, it will allow users to create customized desktops to better silo and organize their work and private lives. The operating system itself is also touted as being the most energy efficient OS that Microsoft has ever produced, allowing users on laptops to work for longer periods of time before having to recharge their batteries. Routine windows updates will be up to 40% smaller than updates on prior systems, and they will update in the background, potentially getting rid of the need for disruptive reboots and waiting times for large update files. Windows 11 also supports integrations with numerous third-party developers, including Android and Adobe, and the OS will now seamlessly connect to the Microsoft Teams app, making communication between loved ones and colleagues easier. Lastly, Microsoft claims that Windows 11 will be the most secure OS to date, with a whole host of modernized security protocols.
Things to Consider
Naturally, any company will go out of its way to convince its customers that it has the best product. Panos Panay, Microsoft's Chief Product Officer and part of the team that made the announcement last week, even characterized the system's revised user interface as, "modern, fresh, clean, and beautiful." Still, there are some things that any business needs to consider when updating to a brand new OS.
New operating systems, especially ones that make large-scale revisions to their interface and features, often come with a learning curve. If the revisions are too in-depth, it may even entail a fresh round of staff training or professional development. When Microsoft released Windows 8 in 2012, they revised the system's user interface to resemble interfaces from operating systems on mobile devices. For those users who had become familiar with the interface from prior Windows platforms, this new layout proved to be so different that it required users to buckle down and spend time learning how to navigate it, either on their own or from a trainer. That's time that could have been used on more productive activities. Thankfully, Microsoft learned their lesson and reverted to a user interface that better resembled its predecessors with Windows 10.
Moreover, new operating systems run the risk of not being compatible with older hardware, and businesses who rely on older hardware may run the risk of incurring new expenses to update it before IT developers produce programs and codes to the make the OS backwards compatible. The same holds true for older software.
Lastly, migrating to a new OS, at least when the promotional period has ended, can be costly. Overall, it's important that any business owner weigh the costs and benefits of changing operating systems. Is the upgraded security worth the time it takes to download and install the new system? Are you willing to provide training for employees who may struggle with the new interface? How do you make sure all of your existing hardware and software is usable in the new system?
Fortunately, contracting with a managed IT provider can make this transition easier. They can audit your current equipment and software and assess if you're ready to make the change. They can also provide training for employees who struggle with the new interface and provide reliable backups for your files in the event something catastrophic happens during the transition.
To learn more about managed IT services from Titan Tech, click here. If you would like to watch Microsoft's announcement video yourself, visit their YouTube page. You can also read a textual summary of their announcement on their website.
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