Microsoft released a new service for public preview last month — the Windows Upgrade Analytics Service — for enterprises in need of direction upgrading to Windows 10.

Upgrading to a new operating system can be a daunting and complex task. Discovering applications and drivers and then testing them for potential compatibility issues have been among the biggest pain points cited by organizations, according to a recent Microsoft blog.

As of August, Microsoft reports that 400 million devices were using Windows 10 and more than 52 million of those are in businesses. That number will continue to grow as more organizations warm to the security and management features Windows 10 promises.

The OS offers sophisticated security features to help businesses preserve sensitive data and identities, protect devices for cybersecurity and give an increasingly mobile workforce the flexibility to securely access sensitive data on a variety of devices. [Learn more about the scalable security via Microsoft Windows 10 Enterprise E3 in an earlier post I wrote for the blog.]

A Friendly Assist

Windows Upgrade Analytics Service, built on top of Microsoft’s Operations Management Suite, is a super powerful suite of tools for log analytics. It can accelerate Windows 10 deployments through telemetry-driven data, which is essentially technical data from a Windows device about how Windows and related software are performing.

Telemetry data can consist of details describing the type of hardware being used, applications installed and usage details — along with reliability information on device drivers. Armed with this data, IT administrators can keep Windows up to date and secure.

Windows Upgrade Analytics offers:

  • Computer, application and device driver inventory
  • A guided workflow to help take you from pilot to deployment
  • Tools to help you make data-driven decisions about your application portfolio
  • Guidance and insights into your organization’s upgrade readiness

Here’s how it works. The first step to a successful Windows 10 deployment is to create an up-to-date inventory that leverages telemetry data to see what is happening in the organization. For instance, Windows Upgrade Analytics Service lets a business run agent software on its devices to generate an inventory of all applications and drivers. Then, the IT team can compare that inventory against a database that includes already known issues with applications and drivers.

A lot of companies just don’t know what they have on their network. For instance, the finance department might have installed applications on its own. Now, the IT department can see if there are 17 versions of Word or just two, plus it can identify apps that might be handling similar tasks. That way, before a deployment begins, the IT team can plot out the upgrade, determine who will receive what tools and decide if there are possible efficiencies from shutting down or consolidating systems.

The guided workflow capability is different from previous solutions, such as the Application Compatibility Toolkit that bombarded administrators with data but didn’t tell them what to do with it. On the other hand, the workflow tool suggests remediation steps and guides the user through the data.

By providing visibility into issues that might hamper an upgrade the service app helps an IT department focus less on maintenance and reaction and be more proactive.

You can find a free version of the Windows Upgrade Analytics Service here.