When considering an operating system upgrade, whether it’s Windows 11 or any Windows operating system, there is a process you can follow to evaluate whether the change is a good idea. . Maybe you’re worried you won’t meet the Windows 11 requirements or the migration process could cause downtime. Maybe you’re curious about what will be involved in an upgrade. Whatever your concern, you keep coming back to one question—is moving to Windows 11 worth your time and money?
While Windows 11 comes with the benefits of better security and features that can improve employee productivity, all operating system upgrades (whether Windows 11, another Windows operating system, or even macOS) come with risk and costs for your business. To make an educated decision about whether to upgrade, you should know what your business is getting into.
Why should or shouldn’t you upgrade? What costs are involved? Will the transition to Windows 11 hurt staff productivity? If your mind is reeling with questions, this article will cover everything you need to know about upgrading to Windows 11 and highlight four key considerations to help you make a smart decision.
If you’re a long-time Windows user, you probably know not every OS update is worth the effort. Afterall, updating all your business computers can be time consuming, expensive, and rife with problems. To make the best decision, knowing the differences between Windows 10 and 11 is critical.
Windows 11 is built on the same foundational architecture as Windows 10. Many users have called it a features upgrade and Microsoft technically could have delivered all these new features in semi-annual updates instead of as a new OS. Below are key reasons why you may or may not want to upgrade.
Now that you have some ideas of why you should or shouldn’t upgrade, the next question is, can you upgrade? While Windows 10 was designed to operate on older hardware, relatively newer hardware is needed for Windows 11. Here is an overview of some of the key Windows 11 minimum requirements:
Once you’ve confirmed your hardware and systems meet the Windows 11 requirements, your next concern is likely your apps. Will they be compatible with Windows 11?
As Windows 10 and 11 have similar operating systems, most apps that work with Windows 10 will be compatible with Windows 11. However, it’s wise to be certain that your apps will work in the new OS. To ensure compatibility, Microsoft offers two solutions:
Regardless of whether you use the Microsoft solutions above, testing app compatibility in a virtual machine beforehand is highly recommended. If you discover an app compatibility issue after upgrading to Windows 11, it’s not too late to change your mind. You have 10 days to roll back the OS to Windows 10.
As with previous OS releases, Microsoft provides a free Windows 11 upgrade for all users who have a legal license. However, just because the OS update is free, doesn’t mean there aren’t any costs.
Transitioning to the software will come with IT department labor expenses and potential consultant fees. You’ll also have more subtle costs, like reduced productivity as employees adapt to the OS and downtime from possible hiccups in the months following your upgrade. Formal Windows 11 staff training also comes at a cost, but it could reduce employee adaptation time, which could save your business money in the long run. And don’t forget, if you don’t meet the Windows 11 hardware requirements, you’ll also have new equipment expenses.
So when considering cost, think of your return on investment. As mentioned, Windows 11 is more of a features upgrade. However, some of those features—like Windows 11’s new Focus mode—have productivity benefits that could improve staff output. The OS’s security benefits (more on that soon) could also save you money by preventing a costly breach.
Lastly, there’s something to be said about upgrading your business to the newest OS. You’ll have access to the most up-to-date security patches and feature upgrades. And you can tell clients and prospects your business uses the latest technology, which can improve your image in the eyes of customers.
Whether Windows 11 is worth the cost really depends on how you define your return on investment. If the above benefits provide your company enough value, upgrading to Windows 11 may be a good idea.
Below are some of Widows 11’s key security features:
As with any upgrade to new technology, you could face issues during the transition process. In fact, from our experience at Leverage IT, problems with upgrading to Windows 11 are common and should be expected. Things break, printers don’t work, and applications won’t open or run properly. All of these issues could damage your business, hurting employee productivity, lowering staff morale, and causing frustration company wide.
If your business suffers a problem like above, how will you handle it? Will you roll back to Windows 10? If so, you’ll have wasted all that time and money for nothing. While each business must decide on its own whether to upgrade, Leverage IT recommends to stay put and stick with Windows 10. Windows 11 for business doesn’t provide enough value to justify the cost, downtime, and potential problems that will likely arise during the upgrade process.
However, if you still believe upgrading to Windows 11 is the right choice, we highly recommend waiting till you purchase new hardware. Because the operating system in new hardware was installed, certified, and validated by the manufacturer, it translates to much less problems as you transition your company to the new OS.
Remember, support on Windows 10 will be offered till 2025, meaning you could wait to see if a better OS upgrade is released and skip Windows 11 altogether. For example, Leverage IT never adopted Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 as a standard because of all its functional problems.
While the choice is ultimately up to you, consider the four points in this article and decide what’s best for your organization.
If you still believe there is business value in Windows 11 and upgrading will reap a return on investment, you may be wondering how to go about it. Below are some hypothetical steps you could take to envision how the process will go.
Create a deployment plan: Think about how you can prepare your helpdesk, early adopters, and your entire organization for the Windows 11 transition. You can provide training or helpful resources for your staff and update scripts and manuals for your helpdesk. If you’re concerned about potential problems during the migration, plan to go through a test process. Upgrade one system, test it completely by running all applications and processes in your environment, and then move on to the next. However you decide to upgrade, devise a plan that accounts for all the parties, technology, and moving pieces involved in the transition.
Identify incompatible hardware: Checking the compatibility of your hardware is critical to your Windows 11 migration. If you discover much of your hardware doesn’t meet the minimum Windows 11 requirements, you may decide to skip the upgrade altogether due to the costs of purchasing new equipment. For that reason, it pays to assess the compatibility of your hardware early so you avoid wasting time if you decide Windows 11 isn’t worth the new equipment investment.
Identify incompatible applications: While many applications will work with Windows 11, you may have apps that won’t. If you discover a critical application doesn’t meet the Windows 11 requirements or isn’t compatible, you can decide to find a work-around app or roll back your upgrade.
Assess your data risks: As with any technology transition, data loss is a real possibility. While the chances of losing data during a Windows 11 upgrade is unlikely, some businesses may have greater risk due to their system configurations and the type of hardware and applications used. To prevent data loss, backup your data beforehand.
Set a timeline: A Windows 11 upgrade is like any technology project, which means it should have a timeline. Creating one will help minimize the costs of your transition, identify project milestones to keep you on track, and ensure the upgrade is completed in a timely manner so as to not disrupt other projects in the pipeline.
By now, you should have a clearer idea of whether Windows 11 for business is right for you. You’ve weighed the reasons to upgrade or not, considered the Windows 11 requirements, and envisioned how you would transition to the new OS. If you’re still worried or unsure about how to move forward, Leverage IT is here to help.