Microsoft Offers Insights from its Internal Windows 11 Upgrade

Posted on April 24, 2022 by Paul Thurrott in Microsoft, Windows 11 with 22 Comments

As part of a fruitless bid to get businesses to upgrade to Windows 11, Microsoft on Friday provided details about its own mass upgrade. Believe it or not, it went great!

“Microsoft’s upgrade to Windows 11 is largely considered the smoothest we’ve ever had,” Microsoft’s Lukas Velush explains. “The Microsoft Digital Employee Experience team was able to upgrade 190,000 employee devices in just five weeks. We learned a lot, so I’m sharing our learnings with you to help with your deployment journey.”

Microsoft’s success at rolling out its own product to its own employees can be tied to several factors, Velush says: there were far fewer app compatibility issues than in the past because Windows 11 is identical to Windows 10 internally, it didn’t build out a lot of different disk images, and the delivery processes and tools needed, which are identical to those for Windows 10, were “greatly improved during the rollout of Windows 10.”

“We count our upgrade to Windows 11 as a strong success story,” Velush concludes. “We had no increase in support tickets, we had broad adoption across the company, and it was our fastest deployment in company history. We hope that sharing our story helps you tackle your Windows 11 upgrade.”

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Comments (22)

22 responses to “Microsoft Offers Insights from its Internal Windows 11 Upgrade”

  1. navarac

    So consuming their own "dog-food" includes the "wrapper" that is marketing hype.

    • hrlngrv

      What would be the long-term career prospects of any MSFT employee or contractor who might registered ANY criticism of MSFT's Windows 11 rollout? Like Kim Jong Un asking any of his subjects How do I look?

      • Dan

        There is a heck of a lot of internal criticism that goes on. People are not afraid to speak their minds on how things go. When Windows 8 was released, the chatter was largely negative.

      • navarac

        Thank you "hringrv" for this weeks good laugh :-)

  2. Alastair Cooper

    Microsoft's hardware is probably much more likely to be compliant with the recommendations for Windows 8.x/10 than at other companies including TPM and Secure Boot. If so that means in turn that it was probably more likely to already meet or exceed the requirements for Windows 11.

    • anoldamigauser

      They had to make special exemptions in the compatibility list for Windows 11 to allow several Surface devices. I am thinking that they probably just overrode the requirements when installing on hardware that was not up to spec.

  3. ben55124

    Windows Mature: Announcing an upgrade most users won't complain about.

    But the mobile OSes are running out of ideas also.

    • hrlngrv

      Windows Mature would require mature MSFT management, finally shedding its enthusiasm for making Windows different however it could. Don't hold your breath.

  4. rejohnson

    I wouldn't call it "fruitless" at this early date. It will take at least a couple of years for businesses to change over from Windows 10, at least until the EOL for Win 10 comes closer. It took several years for general corporate acceptance of Windows 10, and there are still many, many Windows 7 PCs out there in businesses. My particular employer always waits a full year or more for the major patches to appear and policy templates to get more refined before we touch a new OS. But once a good number of our employees have Windows 11 at home we'll get the hard nudge to put it on their work PCs. I do worry about Windows 11 being another Windows 8.1 that was best left alone until Windows 10 came about and so we should wait for Windows 12. But as of now there is no compelling reason to move from Windows 10, which is running pretty darn well for us.

  5. david.thunderbird

    The picture shows that Windows stinks up the place.

  6. Breaker119

    I totally get some of the complaints about the taskbar and feature regression, though I personally don't find any problem with them. As a cloud and M365 architect, I guess my workflows just aren't impacted.

    However, the glaring issue that I haven't seen discussed (or have more likely missed) is that of China. TPM is banned in China. Is there a way to address that? I do not manage desktops so maybe that has already been covered or is irrelevant.

  7. MarkPow

    "We had no increase in support tickets" I'm assuming this was because 190,000 people could no longer use their computers...

    • hrlngrv

      Or MSFT's support system routes all tickets directly to the Recycle Bin while adding notations to the employee's file that they're so technically UNsavvy as to have problems they can't solve themselves.

  8. dennisblondelldecker

    At my company they just upgraded to Windows 10, but much to my surprise the IT department is already asking us in IT Development if we are prepared to upgrade to Windows 11 across the whole portfolio of programs and systems, because they want to get the ball rolling soon. There is still a few Windows XP and Windows 7 in VMs running somewhere. It's a new world.

  9. ruivo

    Windows 11 is a nice car with a janky triangular steering wheel that nobody likes. It is a minor gripe, sure, but one that filters 90% of your interactions with the car.

    We can all learn to live with that interface, but I lived the Windows 3.11 days and was quite proficient on that interface too. Doesn't means that I am glad to see its resurgence on Windows 11 start menu :-)

  10. javial

    First, Microsoft needs to fix taskbar, contexts menú, searchs and more in order to upgrade.

    Second, it this are not priorities to Microsoft, upgrades are not a prority too.

  11. hrlngrv

    First, any enterprise with significant numbers of in-lease PCs not satisfying Windows 11's hardware requirements aren't going to move to Windows 11 until they roll out replacement PCs which do meet those requirements, and that's going to happen on those enterprises' time tables, NOT MSFT's. Not unless MSFT makes it worth those enterprises' whiles, but that ain't gonna happen.

    I believe there's some long-term version of Windows 10 supported until 2029. Why the @#$% would any sensible enterprise using that version feel any compulsion to upgrade before Windows 12 had been out for a year or two? That is, let Windows 11 fail, let MSFT tacitly admit it failed by designing Windows 12's desktop UI to be closer to 10 than 11, and take advantage of MSFT coming to its senses?

    MSFT needs to split Windows into work and nonwork versions, at least for the desktop UI, and make the work desktop UI a paid upgrade from the nonwork one. We're reaching the point enterprises want no part in what MSFT is doing to consumers.

    • davidjhupp

      Microsoft is not going to roll back the overwhelming majority of the UI changes—the changes simply aren’t as significant as, say, the Windows 8 changes, and more comparable to the changes from XP to Vista that significantly mellowed in Windows 7. Like 95% of the complaints I hear about Windows 11 are about feature regressions with the new taskbar and about the requirement for a fairly recent CPU. Microsoft is definitely going to fill out a lot of the missing taskbar features over time, and the CPU/TPM requirements will simply matter less over time due to routine hardware upgrades and replacement.

      Large enterprise customers generally seem to be holding out because of the inconvenience and expense of simultaneously maintaining Windows 10 and Windows 11 images for their user bases, due to legacy hardware not supporting Windows 11. They used to have to maintain multiple images, but the longer lifecycle of Windows 10 has allowed them to maintain only a single image. This kind of customer is precisely the kind of customer that already has routine hardware upgrades simply as a matter of course, and so they are simply waiting for the older hardware unsupported by Windows 11 to age out of their fleets in a couple of years. Presumably Windows 12 will have the same basic requirements, and enterprise customers will better adopt it simply due to hardware lifecycle.

      • red.radar

        I agree with your point on legacy hardware. Until the hardware that doesn’t meet Windows 11 requirements ages out, I don’t see enterprises looking to upgrade. They will sit on the fence and upgrade at windows 12 once the fleet has matured to being able to handle broad acceptance.

        With computers lasting much longer than they used too this could take as long as another two years.

        • davidjhupp

          Yeah, I would basically go as far as saying that Windows 11 compatibility won’t play any significant role in hardware lifecycle planning for large enterprises, but that once a critical mass of their fleet is Windows 11-compatible, then they won’t have any reason *not* to start planning for an organization-wide Windows 11 rollout, or perhaps a Windows 12 rollout or whatever if it’s already out and has the same hard requirements. I don’t know offhand what sort of enterprise management features Windows 11 might entice enterprise IS planners, but I’m sure that the consumer features basically play no role in their planning, beyond budgeting for user retraining, which is much cheaper than new hardware.

      • hrlngrv

        I agree Windows 11 isn't Windows 8, but it's beginning to look a lot like Windows Vista in terms of enterprise acceptance. A version to be skipped in hopes MSFT [email protected]#$%s things in its successor version.

        | Microsoft is definitely going to fill out a lot of the missing taskbar features over time

        Agreed, but you seem to believe that'll happen in Windows 11, while I figure that'll happen in Windows 12 once MSFT figures out Windows 11's user reception, enterprise and consumer, is as chilly as Vista's was.

        As for hardware, there's NO COMPELLING REASON for most enterprises to BEGIN migrating to Windows 11 until July 2023 at the earliest. Absolutely no reason to do so in 2022. Which makes MSFT cajolery rather pathetic and off-putting.

    • johnnych

      I came here to upvote your comment, it's exactly what I was going to say. How has Microsoft not realized after all of these decades that the enterprise market is like almost the complete opposite of the consumer market. Just split Windows into 2 separate SKUs already, that's all that is needed. One version for productivity, legacy, support, etc and the other version for modern-UI, new-features, whatever-gamers-want, etc... all problems solved! :)