Tag Archives: Windows 10

How Can IT Teams Catch Incompatibilities Before Systems Are at Risk?

Millions of PCs currently running Windows 10 will lose feature support in 2018 due to incompatible drivers according to ZDNet. The issue affects systems with certain Intel Atom Clover Trail processors that were designed to run Windows 8 or 8.1, but were offered free OS upgrades as part of Microsoft’s Windows 10 push. The support loss is due to incompatibility with the Windows 10 Creators Update and the devices in question will not receive further Windows 10 updates from Microsoft as of the time of this writing. [Update: As reported by The Verge, Microsoft has said that the devices will continue to receive security patches through 2023, but will not be included in feature updates.]

The affected PCs are consumer-level devices and enterprises are therefore unlikely to be impacted by this loss. However, there is no guarantee that other devices won’t lose support due to similar circumstances in the future. The ZDNet article cites Microsoft’s device support policy for Windows 10 that contains a footnote stating, in part, “Not all features in an update will work on all devices. A device may not be able to receive updates if the device hardware is incompatible, lacking current drivers, or otherwise outside of the Original Equipment Manufacturer’s (‘OEM’) support period.”

Determining the hardware specifications of a system is easy on the individual level, but how can companies ensure that their employees aren’t at risk of continuing to run unsupported hardware now or with future Windows 10 updates?

A workspace analytics solution, such as Lakeside Software’s SysTrack, collects and analyzes data about systems and user behavior that fast-tracks the discovery process. With this functionality, IT can easily answer questions such as whether any of the unsupported Intel Atom processors are running on their Windows 10 systems.

SysTrack view of Intel processors on different systems in an environment

As we’ve seen with recent ransomware outbreaks, running an unsupported version of an OS puts systems at greater risk of attack. Upgrading incompatible hardware in your environment before it loses support will likely be a critical part of Windows 10 management strategies moving forward.

Assess Your Environment’s Compatibility with Windows 10

What You Need to Know About GPUs for Windows 10

Dedicated GPUs aren’t just for gamers and designers anymore. The modern workspace is experiencing increasingly vivid and interactive software that is challenging entrenched beliefs about the nature of corporate work. Back in the day, IT supplied users with hardware and software that far exceeded anything employees interacted with in their off-time. The field has changed, and now users are the ones setting the pace for technology needs and adoption. Virtual assistants like Cortana have piqued user interest in AI and intuitive software experiences, which users now expect to follow them across locations and devices. Business leaders are looking to harness this evolving demand to accelerate the implementation of technology with the aim of enhancing employee engagement and performance.

We see growing awareness of this shift in conversations with our clients, who are looking for smarter ways to manage hardware and software transformations. One of the most discussed projects in this space is Windows 10 adoption. Many CIOs have yet to upgrade their users to Windows 10, but are gearing up for a transition in hopes of improving end-user experience and productivity. While we’ve been talking to IT professionals about the differences between Windows 7 and Windows 10 since the Windows 10 launch in 2015, recently we’ve noticed an uptick in questions specific to graphics requirements. “How will my Windows 7 users be affected by Windows 10 graphics demands?” is a fair question, as is “What can I do to prepare my VDI environment for Windows 10?” We knew that the user-focused features available in Windows 10 would demand increased GPU usage, but to answer the question of degree, we turned to data supplied by our customers to achieve an accurate view of graphics needs in Windows 10. Our analysis of customer data focused on GPU and CPU consumption as well as user experience, which we quantify as the percentage of time a user’s experience is not being degraded by performance issues.

Key findings from our assessment include:

  • The amount of time users are consuming GPU increases 32% from Windows 7 to Windows 10
  • Systems without dedicated GPUs show higher average active CPU usage
  • Windows 10 virtual systems with GPUs consume 30% less CPU than those without

  • Presence of a dedicated GPU improves user experience with either OS on both physical and virtual machines

Overall, we found sufficient evidence to recommend implementation of discrete GPUs in both physical and virtual environments, especially for Windows 10 virtual users. Shared resources make the increased graphics requirements in Windows 10 potentially damaging for VDI because high CPU consumption by one user could degrade performance for everyone; however, we found that implementation of virtual GPU could allow IT to not only avoid CPU-load issues, but actually increase density on a server by 30%. Scaled, increased density means fewer servers to purchase and maintain, potentially freeing up resources to direct towards other IT projects.

Whatever stage you’re at in your Windows 10 transformation or other software projects, SysTrack can help you anticipate your users’ graphical needs. As developers continue to release software that enables users to have greater flexibility and creativity in the way they work, IT teams will need to ensure that users have adequate tools at their disposal to power a tech-charged workforce.

How does Office 365 perform across Windows operating systems?

Modern users have the choice between a variety of Windows OS and Office versions. In relation to this mix, a common question we have come across in the past is “How does Windows 10 performance compare with Windows 7?” While we have addressed the situation in the past, it remains a popular question to this day. However, users are now becoming curious about the performance implications of Office versions against the operation systems. Through analysis of SysTrack Community data, we were able to reevaluate Windows 7 and Windows 10 performance implications against Office 365.

A feature that Windows 10 has is its integration with various components of Microsoft’s cloud portfolio. With this new component, we felt compelled to look at how Office 365 ran against past operating systems and how past versions of Office, specifically Office 2013, ran against current operating systems. Office 365 may look very similar to older versions, there are quite a few notable differences. While Office 2013 required a product key, Office 365 handles licensing more efficiently for users, potentially allowing each job role to be given a best fit licensing level. This is just an example of how Office 365 is now closely reliant on the cloud. The cloud allows Office 365 applications to be available from any device and encourages collaboration among users while Office 2013 requires a local installation. Office 2013 did not allow for as smooth of collaboration, requiring the user to share files that have been saved locally or manually stored in a place that can be reached by others. Finally, with Office 365 being software-as-a-service, it has improved security and user experience by seamlessly providing small, frequent patches.

With all these updates to Office 365, how does it affect the overall performance characteristics? We ran a comparison of Office 365 against Office 2013 with different operating systems to see how their load times compared (displayed below in Figure 1).

Figure 1

While it is interesting that Office 365 seems to take a slightly longer time to load, it is mostly due to external connectivity and tying the user account context for Office 365 to the application itself. However, looking at application stability (displayed below in Figure 2), Office 365 has significantly fewer faults than Office 2013.

Figure 2

As displayed above, Office 365 faults significantly less in Windows 10 than Office 2013. This can be a result of both being “as-a-service” products ultimately resulting in less downtime users (thus a higher end user experience) and less maintenance for IT administrators. It can be concluded that while Office 365 takes a little more time to load, it is more stable than Office 2013 among the various operating systems.

So what does all this analysis mean? Ideally, Windows 10 and Office 365 should be used together to achieve high end user experience. Office 365, overall, is more stable providing less application faults. However, other operating systems are also compatible with Office 365 despite the slightly longer load time. To evaluate readiness for a Windows 10 migration, or performance monitoring, check out our free Windows 10 assessment, with the addition of SysTrack to provide the transparency of end user experience monitoring.

Microsoft Guest Blog: SysTrack and Windows Modernization Planning

Hi, I’m Divy Sharma with Microsoft Services, and I’ve been working with Lakeside Software’s SysTrack product for quite some time. SysTrack has proved to be extremely valuable for Data Center Modernization assessments and now for Windows 10 planning. Personally I’ve had the most experience helping customers understand their enterprise infrastructure and application portfolios, and assisting them with the complex process of determining what platforms and pathways forward are available to them to optimize their core infrastructure.

Legacy data center systems and workloads are a massive problem in the enterprise. Because these systems have a tendency to evolve naturally over time without centrally structured planning it can be difficult to determine some of the basic needs these systems are addressing. The key for all of the decisions necessary to migrate workloads and users is context. This requires answers to questions such as: What application connections are necessary? What resource consumption do we expect for applications? What kind of user experience do people get today? How many backend dependencies does this application require?

These questions led us to conclude that we really needed a robust way of collecting detailed, continuous operating metrics and usage details to understand how best to help our customers with their pathway forward. With numerous black box servers, unknown assets, and supporting systems distributed geographically across numerous physical locations it would be a difficult proposition to get a complete inventory, much less understand the characteristics of the existing workload and plan how to migrate it. With some of the existing tools in our portfolio we were able to get pieces of the information we needed, but what was missing was the actual activity and capacity analysis for forecasting costs and understanding the purpose of the systems. This is where SysTrack reporting filled in the gaps for us.

The addition of the Kits concept has greatly streamlined the process of gearing up for a DCM project; because the DCM content that was co-developed with Lakeside is made up of a large number of reports and dashboard content this makes reporting of the data as straightforward as the collection.

With Windows 10, Microsoft has started providing the next level of enterprise productivity, security, manageability and advanced threat detection. Solutions such as Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS) offer leading-edge capabilities for identity management, device management, application management and provides enterprise-grade security. Additionally, new Windows 10 features such as Device Guard, Enterprise Data Protection and Microsoft Passport disrupts modern cyber-threats with revolutionary security. I have found SysTrack extremely valuable in assessing an organization’s current state of readiness for adopting these features. We have been able to get answers to questions such as – which devices are ready for Windows 10 migrations, which devices have TPM chips for using Windows 10’s advanced features, which devices are capable of supporting virtualization through Hyper-V to protect system memory and kernel-mode apps/drivers from malicious tampering, what is the device profile (desktops/laptops/tablets/touch-enabled devices/VDIs), and, what desktop/web applications are used in the enterprise, by whom, how often and what’s the performance portfolio of these workloads.

I really like the fact that SysTrack can work either as an on-premise solution or purely via Azure cloud. It can work on machines on your Active Directory Domain or on BYOD devices that contingent staff may bring in. It can easily help develop a workload’s profile – CPU loads, memory utilization, disk I/Os, network interaction with other servers – all with minimal impact to host performance. Moreover, it can help aggregate data over thousands of devices, laying a strong foundation to develop data-driven models for multiple scenarios, such as, Windows 10 deployment planning, Application Workload Assessment and Migration planning, Azure migration assessment and cost planning, etc.

For us the real mark of success is what happens after the migration is completed, and this is where the SysTrack data makes the largest difference. Previously it was difficult to really come up with a proof point to demonstrate that the user experience in the environment is quantitatively better than what end users used to get. With the comprehensive reporting in tools like Enterprise Visualizer it’s now possible to connect the starting user experience before the improvements with the steady state experience after all of the optimization and workload migration has taken place, proving success.

Really this gets to the heart of a broader key for ensuring that end users get the best possible experience: point of interaction telemetry. As IT’s role evolves it’s critical to have measures in place to track the performance of the various services that make up the EUC environment. By allowing SysTrack to track things like Office 365 adoption, system performance, and application consumption it’s now possible to track delivered services in a unified way. This makes Lakeside an ideal partner as Microsoft grows its incredible portfolio of traditional and cloud based services. Windows 10 in many ways is the start of a transformation for Microsoft’s offerings, and I think the more service driven direction for IT in the enterprise will benefit from it and Azure offerings tremendously.

Keep an eye out for more posts on Windows modernization and how Microsoft can help deliver the best possible end user experience to your environment.

Windows 10 – Readiness, Transformation, and Operational Success with SysTrack

Lakeside Delivers Valuable Windows 10 Transformation Resources

In this blog post Lakeside Software provides a summary of resources focused towards IT and business decision makers to help with understanding the challenges and approaches for creating successful Windows 10 migration projects. As plans for Windows 10 upgrades begin to take shape there is a much greater need for IT to leverage Lakeside Software’s SysTrack solution. Leveraging SysTrack gives IT the visibility into accurate system readiness, while overcoming transformational barriers to enable easier and faster upgrades. Most importantly SysTrack helps IT to achieve ongoing operational success with Windows 10 and future Windows upgrades and updates moving forward.

Readiness Success with SysTrack

To help get started down the path of Windows 10 readiness it is still admittedly important to look at what software and hardware devices are already compatible and ready for the upgrade. Even though most systems running Window 7 and 8.x, along with the software already installed are expected to be compatible with Windows 10, there is an even greater need to make sure that applications are not causing performance issues. This is an area of high value for Lakeside customers using SysTrack, which helps IT identify poorly performing applications prior to upgrading so that issues are not carried forward to Windows 10.

To help explore readiness even further the Lakeside Software team has created a series of blogs, along with a Windows Readiness report and a Windows 10 whitepaper to help you explore these important topics, while outlining where SysTrack delivers ongoing value before, during and after a Windows 10 migration.

We start here with two Lakeside Software blogs posts that talk to the importance of readiness with SysTrack:

Windows 10 Migration, Motivation and Methodology

July 8, 2015

All indications are that Microsoft’s latest OS will enjoy a high adoption rate.  In Dick Murphy’s blog, he discusses how preparation for the inevitable upgrade to the latest/greatest creation by Microsoft can lead to an orderly, data driven adoption versus a process of estimating and hunches.  See how SysTrack can collect the data you’ll need to migrate to Windows 10 in an optimized manner versus a long iterative approach.

Windows 10 Readiness Made Easier

July 14, 2015

Windows 10 adoptions will be ramping up in the coming months, and Lakeside has all the data you need to help with the migration. Ryan Wood discusses the Windows 10 Assessment Report, which is the latest addition to Lakeside’s MarketPlace program. The dynamic report leverages the SysTrack DataMine to illustrate the state of the environment and provide the needed insight to get your organization ready for Windows 10.

Transformational Success with SysTrack

Achieving Windows 10 transformational success requires accurate project planning. The SysTrack platform goes beyond traditional project planning approaches with Image Planner and Transform; two tools designed specifically to help in these areas. Additionally the traditional approach of identifying hardware and software compatibility is still the first step, with application remediation being the second transformation consideration. For the applications that do not immediately pass the app compatibility check, remediation can be addressed using tools like Citrix® AppDNA, which also has direct integration to SysTrack. Also covered in this area are tools like Dell® Changebase and Flexera Software® which can also be leveraged with SysTrack to provide broader app remediation insight and planning. Further still you need datasets specifically focused on Windows 10 transformation, while not leaving out the backend data center infrastructure your end users depend on to continue having a productive experience with Windows 10. These topics are covered in greater depth in these two Lakeside Software blog posts:

Using SysTrack for Windows 10 Migration Project Management

July 30, 2015

The migration to Windows 10 will be challenging for some project managers. Ray Ross discusses some of the issues project managers will face, as well as the benefits project managers can gain by utilizing SysTrack’s data and tools.

Microsoft Kits – Windows 10 Optimization and Data Center Modernization

July 27, 2015

This month marks an interesting period of transition for Microsoft and the Windows landscape. In his latest blog post, Ben Murphy discusses two SysTrack Kits designed to help with the modernization and optimization of existing Windows environments as IT organizations make the move from Server 2003 and start the roadmap for migration to Windows 10.

Ongoing Operational Success with SysTrack

The release of Windows 10 is a pivotal shift for IT from the perspective of the many beneficial features tied to business value that will help drive migrations. Windows 10 is being touted as the last major Windows upgrade. This means that Windows is shifting to a SaaS-style ongoing automatic patching process. Previously major version releases of Windows were seen roughly every 2-3 years, whereas moving forward, upgrades and updates will be delivered automatically; for the most part outside of IT’s control.

The exception to the automatic upgrades fall into the higher end special systems patching options delivered through what’s called a “Long Term Branch” patch management tier. This is not only the most expensive licensing option, but it is targeted towards specific use cases like air traffic control, emergency rooms and other niche use cases. Gartner expects that the majority of enterprises will opt of the less expensive option of “Current Branch for Business”, which automatically installs security patches as they arrive (after being validated in the broader consumer market), while allowing feature updates to be delayed for up to 8 months before you fall out support.

When considering a Windows 10 migration strategy, inevitably IT will need come to terms with and take into consideration the impact of automatic updates to IT systems management processes. As everything but the most expensive patching option plans for Enterprises will be automatic, this new patching paradigm raises questions of control versus security. Security obviously takes precedence, but IT will still need to maintain visibility and control. For example, even if IT is not controlling OS patch management timing and distribution, they will require more visibility than ever into the systems being patched in order to properly support them. This demands even more importance due to patch rollback only being available for 30 days, which means it is critical that any issues be identified faster within that post-patch time period. After 30 days, the patch becomes permanent and cannot be rolled back.

Lakeside Software’s SysTrack solution delivers tremendous value to IT in this area by giving IT the data to know when security patches are pushed out, which systems have received security patches and which haven’t. More importantly is the need to clearly see if patches are in any way affecting the performance of the end point device and in turn impacting the end users productivity. SysTrack does this by continuously assessing the end point and keeping track of the performance over time, showing impact points to the users experience and the root cause(s) of issues from patches, hardware, software, operating system or network dependencies.

Learn more about why SysTrack is the end user computing success platform for Windows 10 upgrades and beyond in Lakeside Software’s Windows 10 whitepaper:

White Paper: Upgrading Windows 10 – Transformation Success with SysTrack

July 28, 2015

In this self-authored whitepaper, I (Jeremy Steinman) dive into Microsoft’s customer focused approach to realizing the value of Windows 10 with easier user adoption and training, along with security and deployment considerations facing businesses exploring the upgrade path to Windows 10. Achieve success by getting answers to key migration questions while measuring the migration and ongoing user experience with SysTrack.

Summary

By reducing efforts and the need for large application and web remediation projects and less need for hardware refreshes, the major inhibitors of past Windows upgrades are no longer prevalent. Even driver update concerns won’t be the dominant delays in business adoption that they once were. Since most applications and hardware are already showing signs of being compatible with Windows 10, along with a robust list of features focused on security, usability and productivity, user acceptance and satisfaction levels are projected to be much higher with Windows 10. Already users are adopting Windows 10 with greater enthusiasm due to the free upgrade offer for Windows 7 and 8.x licensed devices (excluding Windows Enterprise edition). Case in point, in the first 24 hours after the Windows 10 release Microsoft showed a historical and overwhelming response to Windows 10 with over 14 million installs worldwide, with a projected 2 year target of over 1 billion installs: Windows 10 – The First 24 Hours.

Regardless of your Windows 10 upgrade timeline, you can get started now assessing your Windows 10 readiness, while exploring options for planning for a smoother transformation focused on achieving operational success with SysTrack – The End User Computing Success Platform.