The other night, I was fortunate to come across an IT director who successfully migrated most of his company's Windows 7 computers to Windows 8. He was willing to answer a few questions. the answers may help you as your begin your own journey to Windows 8.
Note that I have sent him some follow-up questions, but he has not yet been able to respond. If he does, I will update this article with the additional discussion.
What company do you work for and what is your role? I am the IT Director at a privately held software development company.
How many employees and computers do you have to manage? The IT department supports 105 employees and their Windows computers.
How large is your IT staff? We have a total of 5 IT staff members.
What version of Windows were you running before? Windows 7 Enterprise.
What was the primary driver for you to migrate so soon after Windows 8 came out? Our process was relatively simple, really. We tested Windows 8 on a couple of older laptops, and the speed improvement was markedly noticeable. Further, during tests, the system was actually more stable than Windows 7.
What percentage of computers have you moved to Windows 8? We’ve migrated 80% of our computers.
What's keeping you from moving the remaining systems? Some of our users use a mission-critical CRM application that has not yet been certified to work on Windows 8. In other instances, users are finishing work projects, and we needed to reschedule the upgrade.
Are you using any of Windows 8's new features? Although not brand new to Windows 8, we are using Bitlocker to encrypt the hard drives. We’ve also found some useful applications from the Windows Store. Further, we plan to test Windows To Go in the near future.
What problems did you run into that you didn't anticipate? We ran into issues with some development tools, primarily the Flash Debugger for Visual Studio. Also, there was an issue installing SQL Server 2005 due to missing components of .NET Framework 3.5. We had to use a script to complete the install. This appears to be a known issue.
How have users reacted to the new environment? I will say most of them are happy with the upgrade. They’re still getting used to it, but faster boot times and increased stability have made them happy. Some users don't like the new interface all.
How did you prepare users for the transition? We explained that this is a corporate decision, and we were scheduling the upgrades.
How did you prepare technically for the transition? We prepared a schedule for the IT Staff to start the upgrades by department. IT staff then worked on learning what they needed to know to perform the upgrades.
What do you wish you'd done differently in your upgrade process? I wish we’d streamlined the project a bit through the use of an automated deployment of the upgrade to all computers. Instead, we did the upgrades manually, but, due to some specialized needs, we needed to perform much of the work manually anyway.
What advice would you give to others going down the Windows 8 path? Read all the forums to gain an understanding about known issues. Do a test run first and then start the upgrades.
What advice would you give to Microsoft for Service Pack 1? Give an option to enable the classic Start Button, so that customers do not need to get a third party tool for that. Also, improve support for older printers; some of the drivers included did not work properly.
Action Item: Although there are still unknowns out there, CIOs should seek out others who have made the transition and seek knowledge and first-hand experience about the project. With simple needs and enough testing, there could be upside benefit for Windows 8 in an organization.