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Juriba Interview Series #1: Arun Bhardwaj on Windows 11 Adoption

Windows 11 and other modern technologies such as Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD) and Microsoft Intune are changing the landscape for every application packaging team, placing application management and modernization at the top of their modern workplace agenda.

Designed to better support hybrid work and keep up with the pace of Microsoft, the needs of today's commercial organizations, and end-users, these modern technologies can significantly impact how you manage your applications. For organizations transitioning to a modern workplace - including Windows 11 - the move requires packaging teams to successfully manage and modernize a complex application estate by assessing existing resources, budget, and processes. All while converting or repackaging supported applications to work efficiently with new deployment mechanisms and operating systems.

We caught up with Arun Bhardwaj, Senior Digital Workplace Practitioner, about adopting Windows 11 in the workspace and the changes required to modernize application packaging into the 2020's.

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Windows 11 Adoption Nears 9%, But Businesses Are Waiting

Mahesh: Thank you for joining us, Arun. We are delighted to be speaking to you about adopting Windows 11 in the workspace. Let's jump right in. Data on Microsoft's newest OS adoption shows uptake ranging from 1% to 9%. But most enterprises will wait until at least 2023 before broadly rolling out Windows 11. Are your customers moving quickly to adopt Windows 11?

Arun: There seems to be a keenness in the consumer world to move to Windows 11, but enterprise customers are primarily in exploratory mode. There is much buzz already, and customers are keen to learn and test the new OS. However, although customers would like to explore new features coming with Windows 11, the steep hardware pre-requisites for running the latest OS hinders adoption. Also, Windows 10 will be supported for some time to come, hence there is no immediate urgency amongst the customers to make this move.  On the other side, Enterprises are also wary that many organizations hadn't started their migrations from Windows 7 to Windows 10 in time and overran the deadline. Hence, large customers (100k+ Employees) should start early because migrating large environments can take a lot of time.

Modern Application Packaging Pressures

Mahesh: What are the modern application packaging pressures your customers face? 

Arun: The primary pressure is to reduce the turnaround time for application testing and packaging. Most customers don't have the necessary tools required to automate the whole application packaging process, which means that customers are still using the same methods to package the applications they were using in the Win-XP era. In addition, frequent updates put significant pressure on the packaging teams, and the turnaround time gets further lengthened, thus keeping the environment unproductive and vulnerable.

Complex Applications & New Formats

Mahesh: Every organization will be at a different point of their migration journey to the modern desktop, be that Windows 11, AVD, Intune, or a combination of technologies. However, a plan to modernize the complex application estate is mandatory, whichever strategy prevails. Unfortunately, complex applications are a fact of life when managing any application estate. However, it is sometimes hard to know what makes an application complex and what challenges you will face with those applications. So, what are the challenges with complex applications in new formats and workspaces?

Arun: New application formats bring various challenges that force enterprises to rethink how they approach their application landscape. Some of the more tactical challenges we have seen are:

  • Requirement for elevated security privilege: Applications often don’t work correctly for standard users, requiring elevated rights, which becomes a challenge.
  • Latest application formats like MSIX do not support a kernel-mode driver or a windows service that needs to run under a system account.
  • Shell extensions are not supported.
  • Application extensions must be installed in the exact location as the application itself.
  • Applications can generate memory consuming code, but Windows Application Certification process can't validate that code prior to application submission. This could block your application from submission to the Microsoft Store.

Environments are also challenged by the dynamic nature of applications and a variety of formats now. Earlier, Operating systems were limited, but currently, organizations support MACs, android, and Chromebook in their environment in addition to Windows. More formats mean more complexity in keeping applications up to date for all the platforms. Also, vendors are updating applications faster than ever, thus putting heavy pressure on the current processes.

Immediate Actions for Businesses Concerning Windows 11

Mahesh: Windows 11 has confirmed that the momentum of frequently needing to test, package, and update applications in ever-changing formats and environments is here to stay. Analyst firm Gartner has advised its customers to get familiar with Windows 11 and plan for eventual adoption, but don't rush to implement. Gartner Research Vice President Stephen Kleynhans recommends via Positioning Windows 11 and Preparing to Deploy just two immediate actions for business concerning Windows 11. The first is to create a timeline for evaluating and migrating to Windows 11, with testing to start in the first half of 2022. And the second is to conduct limited tests among folk in your IT and ops teams. Do you agree with this approach? 

Arun: It is essential to start testing early and get it out of the way, ready for when the actual mass rollout must happen. As proven in the past, migrations can take months or even years, especially for large customers. Although 2025 might seem far off to some, it's only about three years from now. Due to various procedural gaps, some large engagements have taken almost two years to finish their migrations in the past. Aligned with Gartner's insights and data, it is safe to say that customers have only got 2022 to test the waters, and from 2023 onwards, they will have to initiate the migration project seriously.

On the second point, it's common to test any new OS, patch, or upgrade on a particular set of users, preferably IT teams, so that a larger environment remains insulated if something goes wrong. IT teams are also better positioned to provide feedback on the behavior and performance of the new OS. Hence, the Windows 11 update will not be any different in terms of rollout strategy and will follow the "rings" methodology in some way.

Change You Can't Ignore

Windows 11 may not be the large migration of the past, but you will still have to jump in and get everything ready, or you will struggle against support deadlines and achieve application modernization. Utilizing automation in the modern desktop strategy will ensure that the process is robust and efficient, and that the end-user is productive, secure, and future-proofed. Juriba is currently working with customers to accelerate planning with Windows 11 and helping them set up for success with modern application tooling, device management infrastructure, and operations.

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If you haven't signed up for the Windows 11 Assessment Service, you really should. Here's why. You'll cut months off your Windows 11 migration timeline, avoid costly mistakes down the road (as you are making data-driven decisions), and be able to immediately put the assessment outcome into action to start the actual migration process!