Support for Windows 10 is ending on 14 October 2025. The current release (22H2), which became available in October 2022 is the final one – there will be no more features, no more updates, and of course, no more security patches.
2025 may sound far away, but the reality is that depending on the number of devices within your estate, upgrading to Windows 11 may require large-scale project planning, device replacement, and upgrade deployments that make the deadline a little tight. Also, let’s not forget some of the challenges experienced with wholesale movement to Windows 10, the last time a major OS release was tabled by Microsoft. Many businesses underestimated the flightpath and didn’t get prepared in time. Thankfully, Windows 7 users were thrown a temporary lifeline with extended security updates, but it’s unlikely Microsoft will be wanting to give Windows 10 the same kind of temporary reprieve.
The Windows 11 upgrade hasn’t been met with too much enthusiasm, with some customers feeling like their hands are being forced to fork out for new devices. But amongst all the noise, it’s getting lost that not every business needs to do this.
In this blog, we’ll break down the slightly controversial compatibility specifics, how to plan your business’ path through the changes, and where you need to start.
Do you need to upgrade your OS AND your devices?
When earlier operating systems go end of life in 2025, there are unavoidable hardware compatibly requirements that will determine whether you can upgrade to Windows 11 or not. It is vital that you start planning for this now, as the bitter truth (for many) is that you’ve got two options:
- If your devices are compatible with Windows 11, you can simply upgrade.
- If your devices are incompatible, and you want to continue using PC-based environment, you’re going to need to purchase new Windows 11-friendly devices.
Many are frustrated, because let’s face it, IT budgets often aren’t cut out for a mass replacement of devices, but let’s look at some positives. It’s a good opportunity to re-evaluate whether your users are equipped with the devices and systems they actually need. And some organisations may choose to exploit the upgrade as an opportunity to explore initiatives such as device choice. We’ll also touch on the specific, undeniable benefits of Windows 11 later on.
Of course you could choose not to upgrade, but we haven’t considered it an option because we would strongly advise against it. Doing so would leave your OS unsupported, your user experiences degrading, and your business unprotected and exposed to more risks.
The nitty gritty of device compatibility
Windows 11 has a number of minimum hardware and firmware requirements for the devices on which it runs. In order to be compatible with upgrading to Windows 11, your devices must:
- Be running TPM 2.0. Windows 11 relies on this for features such as Windows Hello which gives added security by verifying your password with your fingerprint or through facial recognition.
- Have Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) installed. Windows 11’s essential inbuilt security firmware, Secure Boot, cannot run on devices that do not have this. Many older devices don’t have it. Trust us when we say you’ll want to upgrade and make use of Secure Boot, which protects your device from any lurking malware each time you load up your PC.
- Be operating at Windows 10 as a minimum. You cannot upgrade from any earlier Windows OS.
If you are using Windows 10, each of your devices can be put through the Windows 11 compatibility checker, but of course if you’re managing a host of devices, this gets a bit trickier. Understanding your current device estate’s compatibility is something that Microsoft recommends organisations manage in bulk through a third party.
What’s the deal with Windows 11?
For those that choose to remain a Microsoft house, it’s safe to say that beyond the necessity, there are some definite improvements you’ll see:
- Sleek, modern design and enhanced, intuitive user experience.
- Improved performance levels.
- Inherent security features to tackle ever-increasing cyber-risk.
- Reduced duration of updates, which can now run in the background without interrupting work.
Many businesses have already made the leap to Windows 11, and they’re enjoying new features and apps such as Focus Sessions, which lets users allocate time to concentrate on a project uninterrupted, and easier phone linking for both Android and iPhone, speeding up productivity as users move more seamlessly between their PC and phone. There are too many new features to list here, but the majority focus around enhancing working life.
Planning the steps to upgrade
Every business will be different, but there are a few core steps that any business will need to undergo to migrate to Windows 11 smoothly:
- Step one is to assess your device estate. What devices need replacing altogether? And which could support Windows 11?
- Once you know what you’re up against, you can start to establish the true cost of your Windows 11 migration and get that budget locked away. Consider how you can unlock the most value from your outgoing devices, such as by leveraging trade-in deals to help support the cost of your new devices. And consider how you can switch out older devices responsibly and securely through services such as secure IT Asset Disposal.
- When you know how many licenses you need, evaluate how you want to procure your Windows 11 licenses. What configuration will allow you to manage your licenses most conveniently and cost-efficiently going forward?
- Then map out your deployment, which must involve giving the same level of deployment experience to those getting new devices as those just getting an OS upgrade. With many users working from home, this could mean remote support and/or arranging shipment and collection of new devices.
Of course, the fewer devices you upgrade, the quicker this process will be, but depending on how many devices you manage, you may find that realistically you’re not far off completing deployment by the 2025 deadline.
Taking the first step to Windows 11
While much of this may not be ‘news’, we’ve hopefully helped you to get a better grasp on what the 2025 deadline could actually mean for your business. If you need some support to plot your path to Windows 11, or just to review and assess your existing environment, we can help. Get in touch here.