Dell recommends Windows 8.

Migration Pain Isn't a Small Thing

Curtis Franklin Jr., Executive Editor | 12/18/2012 | 21 comments

Curtis Franklin Jr.
When we talk about Windows migration today, almost all of the conversation is about how to migrate from whatever operating system is on your clients' computers to Windows 8. In my conversations at Dell World this week, I heard people describing other factors that can complicate migration -- or turn the discussion in an entirely different direction.

I'll admit that I'm one of the people who has focused much of my attention on the difficulties of training users and transitioning from the "traditional" Windows interface to the new interface (the interface once known as "Metro") that is the public face of Windows 8. While many of the people I spoke with in the halls at Dell World talked about the substantial difference in the new interface (and the related changes required for hardware optimized for that interface), I was struck by the number of people who talked about the challenges of moving from earlier versions of Windows (especially Windows XP) to the interface of Windows 7.

Perhaps it's because I've been using Windows systems since Windows 1.0, but I tend to see a progression through most versions of the Windows interface, with a significant break as the target device shifts from the traditional keyboard and mouse-controlled laptop or desktop computer to the touchscreen target for Windows 8. The factor that I (and many IT professionals) discount is the level of discomfort many users have when there is any interface change at all.

The key point that person after person made is that the scope of change -- the degree to which one interface looks different from another -- is less important than the fact that there is any change at all. Many enterprise users, it turns out, learn computer use and skills by rote. They memorize patterns of motion and command and stick slavishly to those patterns regardless of options that might otherwise exist for action. These users must be retrained (and counseled through change-related trauma) with any change to the interface, whether that change is modest or great.

For the enterprise looking at migrating away from Windows XP or Windows Vista, a significant retraining effort is going to be required whether the target is Windows 7 or Windows 8. Interestingly enough, many of the professionals I spoke with feel that BYOD is going to help with the training requirements because many users will go to the effort of learning lots of options with their new personal systems -- effort that will pay off if they're allowed to try some of the same approaches when they bring those devices into the enterprise.

Migration to Windows 8 is going to be a challenge for both IT and users precisely because it represents a change in the way each approaches the client device. From the user side, the change is obvious: There are new interfaces, new commands, and new consequences as a result of those commands. For IT, the changes are even more profound as Windows 8 presents a compelling set of benefits for at least a limited BYOD option for mobile devices. The notion that a system as controversial as BYOD might have benefits for IT as well as users is at least as radical, in its own way, as the new Windows 8 interface.

How are you planning to retrain your users? What about the new lessons required for your IT department? If you're on any operating system except Windows 7 right now, migration is in your future. Figuring out the training requirements for everyone in the organization should be one of your first steps -- especially if "success" is one of your desired outcomes.

View Comments: Newest First | Oldest First | Threaded View
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nimanthad   Migration Pain Isn't a Small Thing   1/31/2013 9:51:31 PM
Re: Easing migration pains
Yes same IT you cannot stop it but reducing is at least a good thing right mow
nimanthad   Migration Pain Isn't a Small Thing   1/31/2013 9:50:00 PM
Re: Easing migration pains
Tuscany same thing happened to me as well but I took my own time to get things solved
Toby   Migration Pain Isn't a Small Thing   12/31/2012 3:17:15 AM
Re: UI
@Trek: How about good old fashioned motivation, ie giving out prizes and other goodies for accomplishments..? Cheapest and best currency I have fouund, asides from currency, is Starbucks gift crads. Amazing what people can do with eyes on that proze.
anthony.nima   Migration Pain Isn't a Small Thing   12/30/2012 12:22:23 AM
Re: UI
Yes Trek, being smater is the part of the role for the employee but you are not being trainned to be smater than your collegue. Its a wrong impression that many has right now.
Trek   Migration Pain Isn't a Small Thing   12/27/2012 4:26:25 PM
Re: UI
@ Toby, you're right about the smug thing and that is a good leadership issue.  The goal is to get everyone trained, not for anyone to be smarter than the other. 
SaneIT   Migration Pain Isn't a Small Thing   12/27/2012 7:16:01 AM
Re: Easing migration pains
I think the best way to get everyone on board is to make it a corporate culture thing.  It's not a quick fix but many times the resistance that users give is a result of department policies, or a lack of polices that lets people resist change.  At some point you have to promote a sense of teamwork by testing and approving new processes.  An IT migration like the one to Win 8 is a good example, it helps to approach this as a building opportunity rather than punishment.
Toby   Migration Pain Isn't a Small Thing   12/27/2012 6:22:20 AM
Re: UI
@Trek: I think it is also a peer pressure thing. If you can get the whiz-kids in the class to pipe down and not be so smug, you level the playing field. Of course no-one wants to discourage the highly motivated but it can be done in a thoughtful way.
Trek   Migration Pain Isn't a Small Thing   12/26/2012 10:22:37 PM
Re: UI
@ Toby, when ever I train any green staff, I always tell them if they have a question, it's okay to ask a thousand times.   I always tell them, "Show up and don't die and everything will work out."   Really, just re-enforcing that change is difficult and stressful and they are not stupid.   I have to realize that not everyone has an aptitude or patience levels that I may have.   I honestly believe that is biological as well as behavior wise.  We all have different brains. 
Toby   Migration Pain Isn't a Small Thing   12/26/2012 3:55:28 PM
Re: UI
@Trek: Good point in this " their struggle to adapt hurts their self esteem and it becomes a downward spiral." How do you restore self esteem in this case..?
Toby   Migration Pain Isn't a Small Thing   12/26/2012 3:54:01 PM
Re: Easing migration pains
@SaneIT: That's a really good idea. However some people will just not want to switch no matter how much handholding goes on. What's the best way to motivate them..? Make it a career limiter...? Not an option :)
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