The Case for Windows 11 Will Be Made with Security and Telemetry

Steering a Windows 11 move will be rough without measuring the gains or losses along the way, so says Cambridge, Mass.-based Aternity, a Gold Microsoft partner in Application Development and Cloud Platform.

Windows 10, currently running on nearly 80 percent of the world's Windows PCs, was once touted as Microsoft's "forever OS." That's about to change; Windows 11 is coming on Oct. 5. But the new OS may have to hurdle a lot of institutional hesitation to reach the market status that Windows 10 currently has. Plus, Microsoft's hardware requirements for Windows 11 mean end users running older PCs may be locked out of the upgrade. That will force many organizations to undertake complicated and potentially expensive hardware refreshes in exchange for an OS that looks and acts a lot like Windows 10, at least from the outside.

Fernando Castanheira has seen plenty of Windows migrations. Now CIO of Aternity, Castanheira previously spent 28 years at JPMorgan Chase & Co. as CTO and managing director, helping oversee multiple organizationwide Windows upgrades costing millions of dollars. He says businesses need to be convinced that Windows 11 will be a good investment, and that its benefits go well beyond cosmetic improvements.

"There's got to be a compelling reason to do it," he said in a recent interview with RCP. "Just because it has a slicker UI or a couple things are faster here and there, that's just not good enough."

Investing in Security
The compelling reason for businesses to make the leap to Windows 11, Castanheira suggests, is security. "This whole security angle that Microsoft is talking about -- that might be the driver, because everyone's worried about security today."

With scores of previously office-bound employees now working remotely because of the pandemic, using home networks and non-corporate devices that may be less protected than ideal, security has become a major concern for organizations in the last 18 months. There has also been a spate of high-profile security incidents throughout 2021, including the protracted "Hafnium" attacks on Exchange Server and the ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline. The concern goes all the way up to the White House; in response to these incidents, the Biden administration issued an executive order this summer calling for federal agencies to improve their cybersecurity defenses.

Microsoft has talked up Windows 11's security benefits before (though there's some debate about whether any of those benefits are actually new), and has indicated that its strict hardware requirements are in service of better protection. Three of those hardware requirements are critical for partners and businesses to consider, according to Dan Moss, principal solutions engineer at Aternity:

  • Support for UEFI and Secure Boot
  • TPM 2.0
  • DirectX 12 or higher

"There's going to be a lot higher requirement around hardware, which is really centered at that security level," Moss acknowledged. "You can imagine from a CFO perspective, they're probably going to have their eyebrows raised as they understand that there's going to be a considerable investment that needs to be made to meet those."

Measuring Migration Success
The best way to assure a customer that its Windows 11 migration pays off -- that employees are more productive and the end user experience is better -- is with telemetry, according to Moss and Castanheira.

Many organizations will likely take their time moving to Windows 11, starting first with small pilot groups before rolling it out companywide. They argue that a measured Windows 11 rollout is a good opportunity for IT to cultivate Windows 10 benchmarks that they can then compare to Windows 11 data as their migration progresses.

"Understand where you are today," Moss advised. "What do you have today? How does it perform? How stable is it? And then when you make that move [to Windows 11] and you start doing your early adopters, your pilot groups, et cetera, you can then start to do that comparison."

Aternity's digital experience monitoring (DEM) platform enables this kind of data collection for managed service providers (MSPs). According to the company's site:

Aternity measures actual end user experience for any app on any device. It correlates the three streams of data that constitute true user experience -- user productivity, device health and performance, and app performance, including out of the box business activities for Microsoft productivity apps.

In the case of Windows 11, Castanheira says Aternity's platform can collect data both during and after the migration, giving companies a more complete picture of how their users have been affected by the move. It's the kind of product he says would have made his previous job at JPMorgan Chase much easier.

"How can we measure if our migration -- in my case there was a large investment there -- will be successful or not? The only way to do that is with platforms like Aternity and others in the industry," he said. "I wish I had that 10 years ago."

About the Author

Gladys Rama (@GladysRama3) is the editorial director of Converge360.