Migrating hundreds to thousands of business users from an older version of Microsoft Windows to the latest Windows 10 version is never a small project for any enterprise, but purpose-built migration tools from specialist vendors can help make the process more manageable.
A wide variety of migrations tools are available to help with the task, from Microsoft's own Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit and related User State Migration Tool to Environment Manager from Ivanti (formerly AppSense), PCMover Enterprise from Laplink, Enterprise Migration Management & Automation from Eden Technologies, inSync from Druva and MigrationStudio from MigrationStudio.
David Sandberg, the project manager at Zinstall, another Windows 10 migrations tools vendor, told ITPro that Windows 10 migration projects usually start with systems administrators deciding on a path and then reviewing and choosing the right tools to help them reach their project goals.
Microsoft's own migration tools don't always work best for companies, he said, because while are they provided free of charge, they are complex and often can involve many hours spent by a company's IT staff to configure and manage the tools.
Businesses which are eyeing migrations must also look at what they may or may not want to migrate in addition to Windows itself, such as applications and user profiles and settings, said Sandberg.
"There are all kinds of things which require different tools," he said. "That's the main question that they have to start with."
Some migration products, including Zinstall's, provide the tools for enterprises to transfer their applications as well, but not all business customers want to do that, he said. Purpose-built migration tools from third-party vendors are usually easier to manage than Microsoft's complex tools, but some business customers don't care because they are willing to task their IT departments with the time and effort needed to use the Microsoft tools. Other companies would rather their IT staffs make simpler work of the migrations so they can spend more time on other key IT projects within the businesses, he said.
To find the correct approach, businesses need to ask what their migration requirements are and what they want to achieve in the process, said Sandberg. Third-party tools from Zinstall and competitors are typically simpler to deploy and use compared to Microsoft's own migration tools.
"Right now, Windows 10 migrations are picking up" in the marketplace as more businesses decide they need to take the necessary steps to defend themselves against Ransomware attacks and other security risks that can take advantage of earlier Windows versions, he explained.
Migrations to Windows 10 from Windows 7 are easier to do for businesses than earlier migrations from Windows XP to Windows 7, due to more incompatibilities between the earlier versions, he said. Most of the migrations being done nowadays by Zinstall business customers are moving from Windows 7 to Windows 10.
Ultimately, businesses usually must use a variety of tools to perform their migrations, said Sandberg, because each tool can have different functions.
Migration tools are used by enterprises to update user machines on a regular basis as laptops, tablets and desktop machines are replaced and reassigned for new or existing users, said Sandberg. "You always do migrations, all the time. Once every few years you will also get a big refresh."