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Managed service providers (MSPs) should expect to see an increase in support calls around Oct. 5th now that Microsoft has let it be known this week that it plans to start making Windows 11 available on that date.

While it’s unlikely there will be a wholesale migration to Windows 11 overnight, it is inevitable that some end users will either download it because, in many respects its an update to Windows 10, while others will acquire new PCs that come pre-loaded with Windows 11.

Removing headaches for end users

Most of the changes provided in Windows 11 are largely cosmetic, however the changes that are being made are likely to confuse some end users. Microsoft is attempting to improve the overall user experience in anticipation of the fact that many more people will be working both from home and in the office on a more regular basis. That necessitates not only adding new capabilities, but moving around some features and capabilities that already exist in Windows 10.

From an MSP perspective, Microsoft is promising that Windows 10 features such as Microsoft Endpoint Manager, cloud configuration, Windows Update for Business, and Autopilot will also be carried forward. Microsoft has also noted that the Home and Pro Editions of Windows 11 will be updated annually with 24 months of support, and support for Enterprise and Education editions will last 36 months after an update.

Microsoft will also continue to make available App Assure, a service that helps customers with 150 or more users fix any app issues they might run into, at no additional cost. There’s also Test Base for Microsoft 365, an automated application testing tool that is currently available in preview.

Finally, Microsoft is making additional strides with security. Windows 11 is touted as being Zero Trust ready and secure by design, with new built-in security technologies such as hardware-based isolation, encryption, and malware prevention turned on by default. Microsoft is also making it easier to abandon passwords using Windows Hello for Business. There will also more PCs that make use of secured-core PCs that leverage firmware to make them more resilient to malware.

Expect to manage Windows 10 and Windows 11

Microsoft, however, is not moving on from Windows 10 immediately.  A Windows 10, version 21H2 is expected any day and both Windows 10 and Windows 11 devices can be managed via Microsoft Endpoint Manager.

At first blush, upgrading to Windows 11 looks like it will be less traumatic than previous major upgrades to a Windows operating system. However, many MSPs are already challenged by the need to manage multiple versions of Windows that are still running at some customer sites.

Just about everyone has seen at least one point-of-sale (PoS) system that is still running Windows XP regardless of what level of support may no longer be provided. More challenging still, many clients also have various Apple platforms and devices that need to be supported alongside Android phones and even the occasional Linux workstation.

Of course, the more diverse the types of endpoints there are, the more likely it becomes that an organization is going to turn to an MSP for help. Organizations that are able to maintain a standard operating system are typically not in need of much further assistance, so at the very least MSPs might want to encourage some Windows 11 experimentation.

In the short term, that may increase support costs for MSPs. Over the long term, however, Windows 11 is just one more endpoint that will, like all the rest, prove to be good for business.

Photo: Jacob Lund / Shutterstock

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Mike Vizard

Posted by Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard has covered IT for more than 25 years, and has edited or contributed to a number of tech publications including InfoWorld, eWeek, CRN, Baseline, ComputerWorld, TMCNet, and Digital Review. He currently blogs for IT Business Edge and contributes to CIOinsight, The Channel Insider, Programmableweb and Slashdot. Mike blogs about emerging cloud technology for Smarter MSP.

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