Preparing for a Company Wide Migration to Windows 8

Many organizations running on Windows Vista, Windows 7, or Windows XP are keen on upgrading them to Windows 8. Crescent Manufacturing Inc. (CMI) runs on Windows 7 and is keen on upgrading all its systems to Windows 8, which became available in the market from 2012. Windows 8 is now one of the most commonly utilized personal computer (PC) operating systems (OS). Microsoft developed it as one of the OS in its Windows NT OS family. Windows 7, which became available in the market in 2009, preceded Windows 8 (Paul, 2012). This paper explores the dynamics that may characterize CMI’s efforts geared towards the upgrade.

SWOT Analysis

A SWOT appraisal of CMI’s upgrade to Windows 8 is essential in determining its viability. There are various strengths that CMI can leverage on to ensure that the upgrade is successful and carried out effectively. First, the company has accumulated experience in the upgrading of computer systems to run on Windows 8. It recently upgraded the systems to make them able to run on the new OS. Second, all its servers are now capable of supporting computer systems running on the new OS.
Each of the servers in now running Windows Server 2012 in an environment based on Active Directory. Third, the company has a dedicated Information Technology (IT) department charged with the running of the systems and upgrading them as need arises. Notably, the department is populated with highly experienced IT professionals, with vast experiences in running Microsoft OS. The majority of CMI’s IT staffs were recently trained on the new OS. They are now adept at supporting, as well as operating, Windows 2008 along with Windows 2012.
There are diverse weaknesses defining the upgrade. First, the non-IT staffs in the company have limited knowledge on running not only Windows 8 but also running its predecessor. The non-IT staffs are unlikely to become proficient in using the new OS quickly since it is difficult, as well as confusing, to learn. Second, the company lacks some of the elementary Windows 8 requirements. Notably, to run the OS, an organization requires system requirements that are more advanced than those needed in relation to Windows 7.

To run Windows 8 throughout its branches and departments, an organization must have all its CPUs supporting PAE (Physical Address Extension), SSE2 as well as NX bit. To run Windows 8 throughout its branches and departments, an organization must have all its monitors are capable of running on a resolution of at least 1024 by 768. An organization can only run the new OS’ snap functionality throughout its branches and departments if all its monitors have a resolution of at least 1366 by 768.
There are various opportunities that CMI can exploit to ensure that the upgrade is done successfully. First, there are many trainings that it can afford all its staff members to make them adept at using computer systems running on Windows 8. Second, there are many training programs available to IT specialists to enhance their skills in upgrading OS, including all the available Microsoft OS.

There are diverse threats defining the upgrade. First, CMI may have difficulties in accessing Windows 8 to use on its computer systems since the OS is no longer distributed by retailers. The distribution of the Windows 8.1 is not favored by retailers at the expense of distributing Windows 8. Second, Windows 8 is unavailable in full-version online and the retail level for downloading. That means that all the computer systems that CMI would require to upgrade to Windows 8 must first be running on other Windows OS.

Third, CMS may become a victim of the possible ban of internal purchasing of Windows 8 if it is implemented in the US. Already, China now prohibits the internal purchasing to promote the usage of OS that the Chinese government deems energy-efficient. The government is seen as having banned the OS owing to its disaffection with the ending of the Windows XP support by Microsoft.

As well, the government is seen as having been motivated to ban the OS by the institution of the Support Lifecycle Policy by Microsoft. There is a possibility, however remote, that other governments may, like the Chinese government, characterize Windows 8 as threatening their security interests, thus banning its usage. The Chinese government especially sees the interests as threatened by the OS since it is capable of aggregating sensitive information on its users. The government views the aggregation of the information by the OS as capable of enabling its enemies appreciate the country’s social and economic activities as well as conditions (Basu & Hidinger, 2013).

Upgrade Plan

Systems that Should Be Replaced With Compatible or New Hardware

As noted earlier, CMI lacks some of the elementary Windows 8 requirements. Notably, to run the OS, an organization requires system requirements that are more advanced than those needed in relation to Windows 7. To run Windows 8 throughout its branches and departments, an organization must have all its CPUs supporting PAE (Physical Address Extension), SSE2 as well as NX bit. To run Windows 8 throughout its branches and departments, an organization must have all its monitors are capable of running on a resolution of at least 1024 by 768.

An organization can only run the new OS’ snap functionality throughout its branches and departments if all its monitors have a resolution of at least 1366 by 768.  As a minimum, CMI requires CPUs whose clock rate is 1GHz. The CPUs ought to have x64 or IA-32 architecture and SLAT (Second Level Address Translation) support with regard to Hyper-V as a minimum (Basu & Hidinger, 2013).

It is recommended that CMI should have each of its CPUs having a 4GB memory. As a minimum, the CMI’s CPUs with the IA-32 architecture should have a memory of 1GB while those with x64 architecture should have a memory of 2GB. The computers that will be upgraded to run on the new OS should have DirecX 9 graphic cards and at least WDDM 1.0 graphic card drivers. As noted earlier, to run Windows 8 throughout its branches and departments, CMI must have all its monitors are capable of running on a resolution of at least 1024 by 768.

CMI can only run the new OS’ snap functionality throughout its branches and departments if all its monitors have a resolution of at least 1366 by 768. To ensure that its staff members have remarkable computing experiences with Windows 8, CMI should procure multi-touch monitors for its computer-based workstations. The CPUs with the IA-32 architecture should have a 16GB hard disk capacity while the capacity in the CPUs with x64 architecture should be at least 20GB (Basu & Hidinger, 2013).

Besides, to the new OS, CMI should ensure that all its computer-based workstations are connected to the internet. They should have TPMs (Trusted Platform Modules). As well, in their databases, they should have UEFI v2.3.1 Errata B. The databases ought to have Windows Certification Authority. Some of the CMI’s salespersons use tablets running on iOS 7. To ensure that the tablets used by the salespersons can run on Windows 8, they should have DirecX 10 graphic cards and at least WDDM 1.2 graphic card drivers. Each of them should have a free space of 10GB after the completion of its out-of-the-box experiences. The tablets should at least have Volume Down, Windows Key, Volume Up, Power, and Rotation Lock buttons.

The tablets should as a minimum have touch screens that can support at least 1024 by 768 resolutions along with 5-point digitizers (Basu & Hidinger, 2013). Each of the tablets ought to have a camera of at least 720 pixels, a 3-axe accelerometer with a rating of at least 50Hz, and single USB 2.0 exposed and controller ports. The tablets should be able to connect to low-energy Bluetooth LE+4.0 and Wi-Fi. Besides, the tablets should have gyroscopes, magnetometer, microphones, and speakers (Paul, 2012).

Upgrading Approach

CMI should adopt a flash-cut, or flash cutover, approach it upgrading own systems to Windows 8. The approach entails instantaneous changes in intricate systems devoid of phase-in durations, or periods. When the approach is adopted in changing a given system, all the elements of the system are changed immediately as opposed to being phased-in over time. CMI should change all the necessary components of its computer system to make them compatible with Windows 8 immediately.

The old system based on Windows 7 and iOS will be replaced with a new one based on Windows 8 immediately (Marmel, 2013; Pogue, 2013). The flash cutover strategy will be rather fitting for CMI since it is more cost-effective than the phased-approach. When changing the system, CMI should ensure that it backs up its databases to steer clear of possible data losses. Regardless of the threat for the losses, the approach entails lower costs compared to all the other probable approaches: phased, parallel, and pilot.

Time

CMI should ready itself for the upgrade and actualize it in a one year. Several issues may hamper the actualization of the upgrade in the recommended period. First, the time-frame may be impacted by insufficiency of hardware (Paul, 2012). CMI may take more time than expected to acquire the required hardware for use with Windows 8. As noted earlier, the hardware include CPUs supporting PAE , SSE2 and NX bit; monitors capable of running on a resolution of at least 1024 by 768; and CPUs whose clock rate is 1GHz, whose architecture is x64 or IA-32, and that have SLAT support with regard to Hyper-V as a minimum. Second, the time-frame may be impacted by set-up freezes and errors, which may stem from inadequate hard-disk capacities or hardware problems such as excessive OS sensitivity to bad RAM.

Third, the time-frame may be impacted by driver challenges. Notably, the upgrading of CMI’s computers and tablets will require the installation of new drivers. Other issues that may impact on the time frame include OS activation errors, application incompatibilities, and wrong operating system edition (Basu & Hidinger, 2013). The upgrading may as well be hampered by data losses, performance problems, access or permission problems, and interface learning curve challenges. Even though when one should learn new OS’ interfaces when upgrading to them, one may forget how to execute the attendant tasks. Besides, one may not have sufficient enthusiasm to execute the tasks as anticipated (Marmel, 2013; Pogue, 2013).

Testing Business Critical Applications

CMI should make certain that its computer system and the business critical applications supported by it operate devoid of disruptions. All downtimes experienced with the applications will have lead to revenue losses, client loss, and diminish CMI’s brand value. To test the applications to ensure that the downtimes are kept a bare minimum or eliminated altogether, CMI should use VectorCast, software allowing for the testing of the application’s integration and performance. The software parses the application’s source codes. Thereafter, it invokes specific code generators, which create mock stubs or objects needed to construct executable and complete test harnesses automatically. The software analyses data across the application testing activities (Vector Software, 2015).

Securing Tablets and Laptops

There are various best practices that CMI can adopt to secure the tablets, as well as laptops, used by its salespersons. Notably, the CMI’s Chief Information Officer is keen on making certain that no staff members install non-standard business applications on the laptops, as well as tablets, after downloading them. Besides, the officer is keen on making certain that the updating of Windows Store applications on the laptops, as well as tablets, is carried out by the CMI’s IT employees only. First, CMI should institute the appropriate security policies. The policies should prohibit staff members install non-standard business applications on the laptops, as well as tablets, after downloading them. Besides, the policies should prohibit all its non-IT staff members from updating Windows Store applications on the laptops as well as tablets (Paul, 2012).

Second, CMI should encrypt the laptops, as well as tablets, appropriately to address its security-related concerns (Basu & Hidinger, 2013). The devices should be encrypted in such a way that staff members become incapable of installing non-standard business applications on the laptops, as well as tablets, after downloading them. As well, the devices should be encrypted in such a way that non-IT staff members are rendered incapable of updating Windows Store applications on the laptops as well as tablets (Marmel, 2013; Pogue, 2013).

Third, CMI should configure Windows 8 Group Policy on the tablets, as well as laptops, to impose standardized policies relating to security. The policy can be configured in a way that ensures that particular staff members become incapable of installing non-standard business applications and updating Windows Store applications on the laptops as well as tablets (Shinder, 2012).

Pros and Cons AppLocker Configuration

            CMI can configure AppLocker to ensure the standardization of the software that its employees use. Notably, AppLocker is a Windows 8 solution for controlling application usage. It is based on the policy. There are several advantages, as well as downsides, associated with its configuration (Marmel, 2013; Pogue, 2013). The configuration makes certain that only authorized users operate authorized applications, scripts, installer packages, and executables. The configuration enables the setting up, as well as selection, of appropriate application access rules relating to file hashes, names, and publishers. Besides, the configuration enables the identification of particular applications on the basis on own properties like names, capabilities, and functions (Basu & Hidinger, 2013).

Even then, the configuration does not enable control panel and management console support, which poses a security risk since users may launch illegal snap-ins (Basu & Hidinger, 2013). The configuration does not prevent bad control panel-based applets from essentially running. Even with the configuration, it is difficult to regulate the snap-ins via application restrictions. The configuration gives rise messages that may not communicate consequential messages to users when given applications are blocked (Paul, 2012). There are no mechanisms for ensuring that users can ask for access to applications that are otherwise unauthorized.

As well, the configuration may prove challenging to advanced users since it only allows for the blocking of applications. That may be rather restrictive, reducing their productivity. The configuration would have been better if it allowed for application warnings and auditing rather than the blocking. That would have made it more applicable to a wider user range. Besides, the configuration does not bequeath AppLocker the ability to report, making it challenging to sufficiently appraise the impact of the related policies.

Options and Process for Managing Application Updates and Installations via Windows Store

The IT staff members in CMI can regulate, or control, the installation of Windows applications across the company’s computer system when running on Windows 8 by all users (Marmel, 2013; Pogue, 2013). The IT staff members can regulate, or control, the installation using AppLocker. They can achieve the same objective by enabling appropriate policies on Windows Store applications and line-of-business (LOB) applications that they side-load. The IT staff members can put in place policies requiring those trying to install or update the applications to authenticate via the usage of their departmental credentials. Side-loading is the installation of applications straightforwardly to given devices devoid of accessing or using Windows Store. LOB applications cannot only be side-loaded (Basu & Hidinger, 2013; Pogue, 2013).

Besides, the IT staff members in CMI can regulate, or control, the installation of Windows applications by turning Windows Store on, as well as off, as appropriate. Windows Store can be turned off, as well as on, for particular machines. As well, Windows Store can be turned off, as well as on, for particular groups and users. Notably, the IT staff members in CMI can regulate, or control, the updating of Windows Store-available applications by other employees (Microsoft, 2012). Even then, the updating can be controlled via the institution of security policies prohibiting non-IT staff members from updating Windows Store applications on CMI’s devices.

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