Back in October, we wrote a blog post about upgrading to Windows 11 pretty soon after it came out. Nearly nine months later, are things different? Is there a better reason to make the leap to the new version today? The uptake of Windows 11 has been pretty uniformly painless, and if you weren’t interested in upgrading early, it could be time to upgrade. In today’s blog post, we’ll explore some of the issues surrounding upgrades so you can better decide if now is the time.

Can you run a hybrid environment of Windows 10 and 11?

One of the main issues surrounding Windows 11 is Microsoft’s decision to greatly limit which older hardware they would support. Amidst a supply-chain scare and lack of computer hardware supplies it was a hard pill to swallow, but it doesn’t seem like the current market is so bad as to cancel hardware upgrades in the near term. Even if your organization has trimmed some of the hardware budget recently, you can run a hybrid environment of Windows 10 and Windows 11 as new hardware comes in (since the new machines will be preloaded with Windows 11). As you replace older machines with newer ones over the next three or so years, you’ll simultaneously upgrade your entire organization to Windows 11.

It is still better to have a unified software experience throughout your organization, though, because it isn’t as simple to support or use two operating systems as it is to support one. In the near future, software will be less likely to be updated on Windows 10, and even though the operating system will still be fine, there are plenty of hiccups that can occur when using third-party software that doesn’t aim to be compatible with older versions of Windows.

Is all of my software going to run on Windows 11?

Since most of the behind the scenes elements of the operating systems are the same, it would be pretty rare to find a compatibility issue between the two. This is due to the Windows kernel, which didn’t undergo much of a change between versions 10 and 11. Under the hood, the operating system is still basically the same, so networks and software that play nice with Windows 10 should work just fine with Windows 11 simultaneously. If your company mostly uses Microsoft 365 or other cloud-based software, compatibility really shouldn’t be much of an issue on any platforms.

If your company uses some very old software for some specific task or workflow, then you have probably already run into compatibility issues with a previous upgrade. Windows 11 doesn’t really change the answer to that question, since Windows 11 will run (or not run) virtually all of the same programs that Windows 10 did (or did not). If you didn’t have to freeze your systems at Windows 7’s or 8’s end-of-support dates, then your software more than likely runs on Windows 11 as well.

How long until I have to upgrade?

Windows 10’s end-of-support date is currently scheduled for October 2025, so systems running Windows 10 will still get security updates and be supported by Microsoft until then. After that date, Windows 10 will no longer receive support or updates, which effectively will make it dead. Operating systems that don’t get updates are a huge security risk and should not be used except in very specific situations, or with (often costly) third-party support.

If the two versions are so compatible, why upgrade?

So if Windows 10 and 11 are virtually the same in all of these technical aspects, then what’s actually different about them? The answer is: the user experience, mostly. Some users have definitely not liked the new design—so much so that some have even downgraded new computers to Windows 10. Eventually, though, machines that have been downgraded to Windows 10 will need to be re-upgraded to 11 at some point before end-of-support. It’s probably more costly to spend the one to three hours of your IT team reinstalling Windows than it is for users to simply adjust to the new layout. Windows 11 is simply becoming the new standard now that it is out of its early-adopter phase.

-Written by Derek Jeppsen on Behalf of Sean Goss and Crown Computers Team