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Windows 11 Releases October 5: Is Your Business Ready?

by | Sep 14, 2021 | Managed Services, Microsoft 365, News, Security, Uncategorized

Ready for Launch?

Windows 11 is officially set for release on October 5th after first being unveiled at Microsoft’s June 24th reveal event. Businesses everywhere have started their upgrade plans to ensure they stay up to date and Hermetic is ready to help yours. This time around, though, Microsoft has thrown a bit of a curveball with the system requirements and seems to be leaving software vendors hanging. We at Hermetic are ready to help you and your business upgrade and we’re actively testing the available releases as they come out.

Jumping straight to the important bits, though, we have to say that we don’t currently recommend an immediate upgrade for any of our managed clients. With the impending release coming in less than 60 days, Microsoft has yet to provide a stable Release Candidate. The latest build released to the Insider Preview channel is a PRE-RC, meaning a full Release Candidate will come before long. Many software manufacturers, however, are waiting for the official RC in order to test their own applications for compatibility. Until that time, many popular applications and dedicated line of business packages may remain incompatible until testing and updates can be completed.

Windows 11

For now, Microsoft announced that Windows 11 is still currently in active development and will be ready, for newly purchased computers, on October 5th of this year. Microsoft says that Windows 10 users will be able to upgrade at the start of 2022 for free.

The new software goliath is boasting a long list of impressive updates, including:

  • An overhauled user interface
  • A massive redesign of the Microsoft Store
  • 40% smaller updates
  • New multitasking features and settings
  • A host of new security features
  • Android application emulation
  • A new Widget interface
  • Better Teams integration
  • Xbox technology for gaming
  • Improved virtual desktop support
  • Much more

Meanwhile, Microsoft has published some basic requirements, with the addition of a TPM (Trusted Platform Module) requirement, but they are subject to change as we near the release date.

How can my business upgrade?

To start with the good news first, Microsoft is offering Windows 11 to all users, across the board, as a free upgrade. Even users who missed the free upgrade to Windows 10 from 7 or 8.1 can get the new version at no cost. For outdated users, though, a proper upgrade path won’t be available, meaning an upgrade could be required to perform a fresh installation and lose installed applications and settings that aren’t backed up.

For computers with Windows 10 installed, however, an upgrade should be as easy as running Windows Update. For our managed clients, when you’re ready upgrade, we’ll work with you on a rollout schedule and take care of the entire process. Microsoft is building Windows 11 with compatibility in mind, so all the existing applications and settings will remain after installation.

So far, in all our tests, we haven’t found any compatibility issues with existing settings, installations, or third-party applications. Of course, we’ll be testing each of our managed clients one by one to ensure there are no issues that come up during the process.

For organizations performing the upgrade on their own, of course, other upgrade paths are available, such as WSUS, Media Creation Tool, and the Upgrade Assistant.

To check out the current development builds of Windows 11 on your own computer,

you’ll first need to see if your PC meets the system requirements. If you’re good to go, simply join the Windows Insider program, then use Windows Update advanced options to opt into the Dev Channel. The Windows 11 preview builds will become available as an upgrade path and automatically download and install. Stay tuned and we’ll provide some better instructions next week.

What editions will be available?

Microsoft has been known to switch up the editions offered for Operating Systems in the past. Windows 7, for instance, had editions like Home and Home Premium, which included limitations on the power of the computer it could be installed on. There was also Windows 7 Ultimate, which removed those limitations at a higher price point. We won’t even get into the mess that was Windows 8.

When 10 came around, Microsoft had seen he light and slimmed down the different editions into Home, Pro, and Enterprise – with a  few unnoteworthy variations like S and 10X thrown in the mix on their less popular device offerings. Thankfully, they’re staying the course with the mix of editions offered later this year, with Windows 11 expected to be released in Home, Pro, and Enterprise – with Education and Mixed Reality thrown in for good measure.

As always, Home editions won’t be able to join workplace domains and take advantage of advanced features like Remote Desktop, Group Policies, or disk encryption. Taking a step up to the Pro edition unlocks all those functions, along with cutting edge technologies for InTune Mobile Device Management, Dynamic Provisioning, and support for Azure Active Directory.

Finally, as expected, the Enterprise edition takes things a step further with Resilient File System, Long-Term Service Channel Updates, and Desktop Analytics. Chances are, though, if you’re reading this, you aren’t an enterprise customer and won’t need these features. Windows 11 Pro will likely be the way to go and, if you’re a Hermetic customer, you’re already a Pro customer, meaning you won’t have to worry about any of this come December.

When will Windows 10 become End of Life?

(How long can I continue to use Windows 10 in my business?)

Long story short, you have plenty of time. Microsoft will be ending support for Windows 10 on October 14th 2025. Keep in mind, though, that Windows 10 follows the “Modern Lifecycle Policy” which retires support for bi-yearly releases on different dates.

The most current release, for example, is Windows 10 Version 21H1, meaning the major update pushed out in the first half of 2021. This release will see support retired on December 13, 2022. Any users remaining on this release past that date will need to update to a newer update release before seeking support from Microsoft.

Overall, on a Hermetic managed computer, you have until October 2025 to upgrade to Windows 11, but chances are we’ll have you and your business all straight in early 2022.

What are the System Requirements?

The system requirements direct from Microsoft are listed as follows:

  • Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster with two or more cores on a compatible 64-bit processor or system on a chip (SoC).
  • RAM: 4 gigabytes (GB) or greater.
  • Storage: 64 GB* or greater available storage is required to install Windows 11.
    • Additional storage space might be required to download updates and enable specific features.
  • Graphics card: Compatible with DirectX 12 or later, with a WDDM 2.0 driver.
  • System firmware: UEFI, Secure Boot capable.
  • TPM: Trusted Platform Module (TPM) version 2.0.
  • Display: High definition (720p) display, 9″ or greater monitor, 8 bits per color channel.
  • Internet connection: Internet connectivity is necessary to perform updates, and to download and use some features.
    • Windows 11 Home edition requires an Internet connection and a Microsoft Account to complete device setup on first use.

Microsoft states that requirements might change over time, but similar to previous releases, we’re sure the requirements will only loosen with time, if anything.

Most all of our Hermetic managed systems won’t have a problem with the upgrade, save for the big curveball Microsoft has thrown into the mix in the form of the TPM version 2.0 requirement.

A TPM, or Trusted Platform Module, is a tiny chip on your system’s motherboard or CPU that provides additional security features to the system as a whole. The most common usage for the device is as a cryptographic keyholder for Bitlocker disk encryption. When enabled, the system stores the security information required to decrypt an encrypted hard drive. If the computer was ever stolen, the desk could not be read without the cryptographic key stored in the TPM.

Additionally, once the computer is successfully powered on, the TPM provides additional security features to applications such as Outlook for securing communications and web browsers for encrypting connections. Microsoft intends to offload a number of security features built into the Operating System onto the computer’s TPM and will require a system with version 2.0 in order to do so.

There’s no need to worry, though, as Microsoft has been requiring computers with Windows 10 installed from the factory to have TPM 2.0 support out of the box since 2016. For businesses that perform regular inventory updates, there likely won’t be an issue. For computers older than that, they may be sticking with Windows 10 until end of support, at which time the computer will be very out of date and in need of replacement anyhow.

Finally, Microsoft has made assurances that the TPM 2.0 limitation is more of a “soft floor”. Systems with at least TPM 1.2 will be able to upgrade and run Windows 11, although they will receive a notification that an upgrade is not advised.