Jan 04 2022

5 Questions to Ask Before Your Agency Adopts Windows 11

Extra security and easier modernization are part of the new operating system.

Microsoft has publicly released Windows 11, the successor to Windows 10. However, agencies, bureaus and contractors shouldn’t upgrade blindly. That’s especially true for federal agencies, where different operating divisions have unique needs. Information security and migration procedures are top considerations.

A lack of familiarity with a new OS is a legitimate concern because workers likely are accustomed to earlier versions. Luckily, there are potential benefits to upgrading. Consider these five questions if your agency is undecided.

1. What Does Windows 11 Have That Windows 10 Doesn’t?

Windows 11 delivers a noticeable face-lift without straying completely from past versions. Corners are rounded, accent shades are lighter, and the company’s start menu and task bar have been centered on the screen.

The update mainly focuses on productivity. The task bar hosts new Snap Groups and Snap Layouts, which allow you to open and close multiple active applications simultaneously. Snap Layouts assembles your chosen apps in a tiled view, sized according to preference.

Microsoft Teams chat and calling functions are also built in to the task bar. Teams integrates seamlessly with Outlook and Calendar, functioning much like Apple’s FaceTime or Zoom. Along with easier virtual desktop configuration, improved tablet support and voice typing, Windows 11 will accommodate more diverse use cases.

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2. Is Windows 11 Compatible with My Peripherals and Apps?

Yes. Windows 11 offers enhanced integration across the Microsoft ecosystem. The OS supports laptops, desktops, tablets and 2-in-1 devices with the following minimum configurations:

  • 1 gigahertz or faster 64-bit processor or system-on-a-chip (SoC) with two or more cores
  • 4GHz of RAM
  • 64 gigabytes or more of storage space
  • Trusted Platform Module (TPM) v2.0
  • Secure Boot and Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) capability

Windows 11 is gradually rolling out to more machines, hitting newer PCs first, followed by other compatible devices. It will be free for most Windows 10 machines.

RELATED: Follow these tips to successfully carry out a major hardware upgrade. 

3. What New Windows 11 Features Appeal to Federal Users?

Security and modernization will be among the largest draws for federal teams. Windows 11 builds on the security features offered in Windows 10 while bolstering National Institute of Standards and Technology compliance. A chip-to-cloud security philosophy has governed Windows 11’s development from both a hardware and software standpoint. Important system and user data is kept isolated from hackers, who can only penetrate so far into compromised hardware before being stonewalled.

There’s some discussion about whether Windows 11’s hardware requirements can help stave off cyberattacks like the recent Colonial Pipeline and Hafnium attacks. Thankfully, Windows 11 is certified by the National Information Assurance Partnership, which evaluates IT products with a national security lens.

Federal agencies will find incentives to upgrade as they modernize. Moving to Windows 10 from Windows 7 was necessary, as many popular apps and Software as a Service products weren’t compatible with older versions. This may force an upgrade as developers abandon legacy support. Extended support is a final reason to upgrade. Microsoft will support updates for 18 to 36 months depending on the software version.

RELATED: How to update mission-critical IT systems without taking them offline.

4. How Does Windows 11 Improve Security for My Network?

Windows 11 bundles anti-virus, anti-phishing and anti-malware protections together across all supported devices, and can secure users and identities on lost or stolen devices. Microsoft’s chip-to-cloud security approach works at all levels to isolate private data.

Device encryption, virtualization-based security and hypervisor-protected code integrity ensure that systems are hard to crack. Integration with Microsoft Azure Active Directory helps control data and application access in the cloud. Windows 11 also adheres to many NIST security guidelines.

5. How Soon Should I Upgrade to Windows 11?

You should vet Windows 11 to ensure it meets your access management demands, especially if your agency has implemented mobile device management. Configurations may have changed, and new security vulnerabilities — plus bugs — may have been introduced. Ensure that Windows 11 works with your existing apps and that users are trained to use it effectively.

Upgrading to Windows 11 can take anywhere from several minutes to hours, depending on your machine. Organizations with configuration management systems can apply this update in batches across all eligible devices.

Photo Courtesy of Microsoft

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