This content is part of the Essential Guide: Complete guide to Windows 10 migration

Considerations for your Windows 7 to Windows 10 migration

It's not very hard to upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10 -- it just takes some planning and testing to make sure things go smoothly.

Mainstream support for Windows 7 is over, and although extended support is available until 2020, it's time to begin thinking about a Windows 10 migration. The key to a successful upgrade is thorough planning and performing some test upgrades to make sure that your plan will work as intended.

Organizations currently running Windows 7 may be inclined to dismiss the idea of migrating to Windows 10, citing the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" philosophy, but Windows 10 is more than just an operating system upgrade. Microsoft says it's the last desktop operating system, and that it will be the standard platform for desktop PCs going forward. Still, there are a number of considerations that shops must take into account prior to starting a Windows 7 to Windows 10 migration.

Windows 10 migration considerations

The first thing IT shops must look at when upgrading from Windows 7 to Windows 10 is the licensing cost. Windows 10 is available as a free upgrade from Windows 7, but there are some important caveats. For example, the free upgrade offer is only valid until a year from the Windows 10 release date, and some OSes aren't eligible. For example, Windows 7 Enterprise, Windows 8/8.1 Enterprise and Windows RT/RT 8.1 don't make the cut.

Furthermore, the edition of Windows 7 that you're upgrading from controls the edition of Windows 10 that you receive. Windows 7 Starter, Windows 7 Home Basic and Windows 7 Home Premium all upgrade to Windows 10 Home Edition; Windows 7 Professional upgrades to Windows 10 Professional; and Windows 7 Ultimate upgrades to Windows 10 Ultimate. Editions of Windows 7 that are not listed are not eligible for a free upgrade.

Shops must also make sure their patches are up to date before moving to Windows 10. As long as your organization applies the patches that Microsoft makes available, your Windows 10 migration shouldn't cause you too much trouble. Your desktops must run Windows 7 Service Pack 1, and they need to have the Get Windows 10 app, which is installed through Windows Update. But the Get Windows 10 app is only necessary if you plan to use Windows Update to make the transition from Windows 7 to Windows 10. If you are instead planning to use an image file to deploy Windows 10, then the Get Windows 10 app is obviously not required.

Another thing to consider is desktop hardware. Any time you perform a desktop operating system upgrade, there is a possibility that you'll have to upgrade some hardware, too. In most cases, a desktop that can comfortably run Windows 7 is probably also going to be able to run Windows 10 without any problems. Even so, it is important to perform a desktop hardware inventory and compare it against the official hardware requirements for Windows 10. Those requirements include:

  • A 1 GHz or faster processor
  • 1 GB of RAM for the 32-bit version or 2 GB of RAM for the 64-bit version
  • 16 GB or storage for the 32-bit version or 20 GB of storage for the 64-bit version
  • A graphics card with DirectX 9 or later with a WDDM 1.0 driver
  • Display resolution of 1024 x 600 or higher

Keep in mind that these are the minimum requirements. To provide users with a good experience, desktops will likely require more storage, more RAM, a higher display resolution and possibly a faster CPU. There are also extra hardware requirements for using some features. For example, Windows Hello requires a special camera. Similarly, Cortana voice commands will not work without a microphone.

Don't make these application mistakes

Perhaps the most important step in preparing for a Windows 10 migration involves compiling an application inventory and then verifying that those applications work correctly with Windows 10. There are two especially common mistakes that are often made during this process.

The first involves neglecting to verify that the application will survive the upgrade process. It's one thing for an application to be compatible with Windows 10, but it's quite another for the application to run on Windows 7 and then suddenly be on Windows 10. Most of the applications that work with Windows 7 seem to be able to handle the upgrade to Windows 10, but there are exceptions.

The other common mistake that often occurs when shops evaluate applications is neglecting to test infrastructure applications. For example, if desktops run an older antivirus application, that antivirus software may not work with Windows 10.

Next Steps

Guide to Windows 7 migration tools

Pitfalls to avoid in a Windows XP to 8.1 migration

How to migrate from XP to Windows 7

What's new in the Windows 10 Command Prompt?

Is Windows 10 worth the upgrade?

Dig Deeper on Windows 10