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Simple Steps Can Prevent Most Windows 10 Upgrade Headaches

By Paul / Oct 30, 2015

Three months and thousands of support calls later, this summer’s Windows 10 rollout offers some simple lessons on how organizations can head off most OS upgrade issues.

As the tech support team providing help desk services to millions of people on behalf of leading service providers across North America and Europe, AppHelp has been on the frontlines of assisting end-users and organizations in their Windows 10 upgrades.

Compared to previous Windows rollouts, the volume of support calls around upgrading to Windows 10 has been by far the highest our team has seen, mostly due to the fact that Microsoft deployed Windows 10 to its entire user base for free.

Immediately following the launch of Windows 10, we saw a 40% to 80% increase in support requests. Deployment day alone nearly tripled the call volume in some of our programs.

So what were the issues that prompted the most help requests over the first three months of the Windows 10 rollout?

  1. Security software incompatibility
  2. Failed upgrade to Windows 10
  3. Third-party application incompatibility
  4. Hardware peripheral incompatibility
  5. Driver incompatibility
  6. Network setup
  7. Questions about whether to upgrade or not
  8. Failed downgrade to the previously installed version
  9. User experience difficulties due to updated interface
  10. Questions about the new Edge browser

Perhaps the biggest takeaway here is not the actual issues themselves, but how many of these issues could have been prevented by following some simple steps.

1. Mitigating compatibility issues

Security application incompatibilities led the list of problems. Many users with the “latest” version of their security software assumed it would still work after the upgrade. That turned out not to be true, largely due to massive kernel updates in Windows 10, which often removed security from the system during the upgrade process.

This combination of factors — kernel incompatibilities plus users expecting they were covered — made this problem both widespread and especially disruptive. The majority of Windows 10-specific help requests we handled dealt with reinstalling a Windows 10-compatible security software onto the OS.

Most software or hardware incompatibilities are preventable by checking vendors’ websites to see if their products are “Windows 10 ready” —then, of course, installing the appropriate updates.

2. ‘Sandboxing’ to advance test products and services and treat issues

Having a separate virtual environment (sandbox) for troubleshooting and testing is always useful for technicians, especially when dealing with a new OS or software. We typically do this as a part of our non-automated troubleshooting processes. It helps us with our root cause analysis.

For example, if a security feature, an application or a setting isn’t working as expected, it might be due to permissions or a corrupted user profile, so we’ll create a test account to help diagnose and treat the issue.

Having a controlled testing environment adds an extra level of reassurance by limiting the risk of damage to the customer and to the company.

Here are some other key learnings from the rollout’s early days

Adoption is happening fast. We saw 10% of users calling in about Windows 10 in the first two weeks after its release and 20% within the first two months. This is about twice as fast as we saw in previous Windows’ rollouts. If future versions of Windows are also distributed freely, we expect this pattern of rapid adoption upon rollout to continue. Tech support driven organizations should prepare for this to proactively head off any potential disruption.

Take time to learn. Getting acquainted with new network configuration settings – adjusting to a new browser, or learning a new user interface – just takes time. The simple remedy here is to build that learning time into the upgrade schedule. (For example, moving from Windows 7 to Windows 10 might be a surprise — the new and improved start menu is a mix of the traditional start menu plus the tiles of Windows 8.)

But perhaps the best advice for preventing problems with any OS upgrade also applies to Windows 10: wait at least a few months after a rollout before upgrading. Waiting offers benefits on two fronts. First, it lets Microsoft fix bugs in the software itself — issues which tech support may not be able fix. Second, it allows more time for tech support teams to identify trends as well as find and curate solutions for common issues users can’t prevent but can be fixed by a knowledgeable technician.