Should You Upgrade to Windows 11?

Adoption of Microsoft’s New Operating System Slower Than Expected

Windows 11 first became available in October 2021, but Microsoft waited until the first few months of 2022 to give its new operating system a concerted push.

Predictably, the latest OS has seen slow adoption by users—one recent survey of business workstations found that just 1.44% of the 10 million machines surveyed were running Windows 11, compared with 1.71% still running the long-outdated Windows XP, 4.7% running Windows 7, and an overwhelming majority—80.34%—still using Windows 10.

Many cybersecurity experts believe that’s because Windows 11 has notoriously tough requirements for installation: powerful processors 1 GHz or faster, 4GB of memory, a 64GB hard drive, secure boot, new-generation graphics cards, and a relatively new component called Trusted Platform Module (TPM) 2.0.

What does Windows 11 offer? Windows 11 boasts other big usability upgrades: overhauled themes, new color palettes and icon formats, big changes to the Start menu and Settings app, and a Widgets pane that removes the focus from Windows’ standard taskbar and instead spotlights an Action Center with news, notifications, and reminders.

Of course, these types of major shifts are often enough to scare away casual users. Familiarity is critical for everyday computer users, and since Windows 10 has existed for nearly seven years without a major facelift, PC users have gotten used to that environment.

So far, Microsoft has used security upgrades as a major incentive for Windows 10 users to upgrade to Windows 11. The new OS features a beefed-up back-end, with hardware-assisted security now baked into formerly optional settings like Secure Boot and device encryption available by default. This promises heightened protection against increasingly sophisticated (and increasingly frequent) online hacks, including malware, ransomware, phishing, and other infections.

Anyone using Windows XP or Windows 7 would obviously benefit from moving away from those vulnerable, out-of-date operating systems. Both OSes reached their end-of-support dates months or even years ago, leaving them unpatched and unprotected against cyberattacks. The flip side is that any machine still running Windows XP or Windows 7 almost certainly won’t meet the technical requirements for Windows 11, leaving most business owners or IT managers to hope for the best with their legacy applications.

Microsoft tries other tactics to convince users to upgrade. Surprisingly, Microsoft has tried to use the threat of security vulnerabilities to an OS as recent as Windows 10 to convince users to move up to Windows 11. In early April 2022, Microsoft announced that certain versions of Windows 10—20H2 and 1909 Home, Pro, and Pro Education—would reach their end of service in May 2022.

Meanwhile, other versions—Enterprise, Education, and IoT Enterprise, along with the productivity suite Office 2013—would no longer receive security updates in May 2023. Until that time, Microsoft said it would force security patches to these installations using Windows Update. These kinds of announcements usually do more to confuse users than anything else, leading many to take no action out of fear or indecision.

Should I upgrade to Windows 11?The initial answer to this question depends on the type of hardware your business is currently using—and your long-term plan for IT procurement that updates and upgrades that equipment.

The best part about Windows 11 is that it was initially offered as a free upgrade for Windows 10 users. But complaints have emerged from users trying to perform the upgrade after receiving endless push notifications about it, only to be notified that their processor is too old or their computer doesn’t have TPM 2.0 enabled. A safe assumption is that if your computer was manufactured before 2016, it almost certainly won’t support Windows 11.

Many businesses might be able to conduct regular day-to-day operations just fine with Windows 10. Of course, that doesn’t mean that will remain the case for years to come. CMIT Solutions has helped thousands of clients across North America navigate the move from Windows XP to Windows 7 to Windows 8 to Windows 10 and beyond, and we’ve compiled the following tips to guide your decision-making:

1) Wait if you can. Even six months after its rollout, Microsoft is still patching Windows 11. Just last week, in fact, a major Patch Tuesday update fixed extremely slow startup times and a potential memory leak, along with Secure Boot and Trusted Platform Module (TPM) 2.0 components—two of the strict technical requirements issued by Microsoft that otherwise-eager Windows 11 adoptees originally complained about.

2) If you want to try out new Windows 11 features, try it on one computer first. There’s no doubt that some upgrades could provide a big productivity boostMany Windows aficionados were excited about new Taskbar widgets, virtual desktop toggling, onscreen sketching, and snapping gestures that could make day-to-day tasks more efficient. A newly integrated Microsoft Teams button with call, chat, text, and video capabilities only strengthens the alignment with that immensely popular collaboration tool, while upgraded Snap Layouts should assist with multitasking by allowing users to organize apps and windows for easier access.

3) Talk to an IT provider about compatibilities and upgrade paths. If you have a trusted partner helping with cybersecurity, talk to them about Windows 11 first. Chances are they have lots of experience helping certain clients in certain industries adopt the new OS. They can also make sure that critical antivirus and cybersecurity applications will continue to work seamlessly with Windows 11, along with ensuring that legacy applications like tax or bookkeeping software can stay connected.

4) Use caution with phishing campaigns pushing Windows 11. As with all major computer news events that leave some people confused and hesitant about next steps, hackers have tried to capitalize on the rollout of Windows 11. This typically takes the form of fake emails or text messages posing as Microsoft, other software providers, and even IT departments. Many of these messages will include a general message stating that the receiver needs to download and install Windows 11 using a provided URL that actually leads to a malicious site or downloads malware on a system.

Always be wary of any email purporting to be from Microsoft, claiming to contain a free upgrade to Windows 11, or asking for login credentials to confirm your current version of the operating system. Microsoft’s licensing verification process will ensure that the actual download and installation for legitimate versions of Windows 11 will be secure—or a trusted IT provider can safely guide you through the process step by step.

Six months into its lifespan, Windows 11 hasn’t seen the kind of quick adoption that Microsoft hoped for. But that wait-and-see approach could actually help the operating system have a longer, safer lifespan as the bugs are worked out and businesses are cautious about their upgrade plans.

That’s the advice CMIT Solutions always gives its clients: move slowly and let software providers fix things before you download a new program onto your computer. With hundreds of offices supporting thousands of businesses across North America, we’re taking that approach to Windows 11 and can help you determine the right path forward for your company. Contact us today for comprehensive support that always keeps your best interests at heart.

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