Windows Analytics Upgrade Readiness - A Free Tool To Ease & Speed Up Your Windows Upgrade Effort


Overview

Windows Analytics is a set of solutions for Azure Portal that provide you with extensive data about the state of devices in your deployment. There are currently three solutions which you can use singly or in any combination:

  1. Device Health

  2. Update Compliance

  3. Upgrade Readiness

Upgrade Readiness focuses on compatibility.

Update Compliance helps to keep your devices up to date.

Device Health cuts the support cost by providing proactive alerts.

Upgrade Readiness

Whether you’re coming from an older version of Windows or you’re preparing for the semi-annual Windows updates, Upgrade Readiness can give you a view of your Devices, Apps and Drivers and their readiness as you move to the migration of Windows.

Upgrade Readiness not only supports upgrade management from Windows 7 / 8.1 to Windows 10, but also from Windows 10 to Windows 10 Feature Upgrades.

Use Upgrade Readiness to get:

  • Data export to commonly used software deployment tools, including System Center Configuration Manager

  • Application usage information, allowing targeted validation; workflow to track validation progress and decisions

  • Data-driven application rationalization tools

  • Guidance and insights into application and driver compatibility issues, with suggested fixes

  • Powerful computer-level search and drill-downs

  • Detailed computer and application inventory

  • A visual workflow that guides you from pilot to production

The visual workflow begins with an overview of the total number of computers and applications within your environment. In my example shown in Figure 1, I see a total of 5000 computers and 8000 applications in my environment. I can set the target version of Windows I’d like to upgrade to and see the number of computers that have been successfully upgraded to the target version.

In our first step, we prioritize on the apps to test and validate. Applications that have been installed on 2% or less of your computer inventory are automatically assigned an importance of “low install count” and marked as “ready to upgrade”. That leaves us with applications that have been installed in a significant number of computers, allowing us to focus our app testing on the apps that are important and business critical. In my example shown in Figure 2, I see that 7100 apps have automatically been assigned an importance of “low install count”. That allows me to focus my app-compatibility testing on 579 apps out of the 8000 apps.

Next, we carry out app-compatibility testing and resolve issues to bring more computers into the “ready to upgrade” status. Through Upgrade Readiness, Microsoft shares information they have about known application and driver issues. Figure 3 below shows that Microsoft has identified 23 applications within my environment with known issues. I can drill down on the categories to see more details.

Microsoft takes your application inventory and join it with ready-for-Windows data. Ready-for-Windows gives you support statements from your app developers and ISV partners, as well as gets you telemetry signals that give you the confidence that your apps or the specific version of the apps that you’re running are running healthy on other Windows 10 commercial machines.

In Figure 4, I see that 467 apps, out of the 579 apps requiring review, have already been tagged by Microsoft as low-risk apps based on signals from ready-for-Windows. This further reduces the app count to about 100 that I need to focus my app-compatibility testing on.

As you rationalize your apps and drivers, you will see more machines going into the “ready to upgrade” state. Figure 5 shows the number of computers that are ready for upgrade and I can export that list of computers to my System Center Configuration Manager (or any other software distribution solution) to start my deployment testing.

Step 4 of Upgrade Readiness provides a post-upgrade monitoring view. Figure 6 shows that 2900 computers have been successfully updated and 39 computers have failed the update. I can drill in to the list of computers that have failed the update to look at the reasons for the failed update and take remediation actions.

How To Start Using Windows Analytics

  1. Go to https://portal.azure.com

  2. In the Azure portal, the simplest way to add Windows Analytics solutions (Upgrade Readiness, Update Compliance, and Device Health) is to select + Create a resource and then type the solution name in the search box. In the example below, the search is for "Device Health".

  3. Select the solution from the list that is returned by the search, and then select Create to add the solution.

Cost of Windows Analytics

Windows Analytics is a free service in Azure. You will be able to collect all the Windows Analytics data from your devices and not incur any costs.

Data Retention Periods

Windows Analytics uses Azure Log Analytics (formerly known as Operations Management Suite or OMS), a collection of cloud-based servicing for monitoring and automating your on-premises and cloud environments.

Azure Log Analytics is available in different pricing tiers.

If you are using the free tier, which has a cap on the amount of data collected per day, the Windows Analytics data will not count towards this cap. You will be able to collect all the Windows Analytics data from your devices and still have the full cap available for collecting additional data from other sources.

If you are using a paid tier that charges per GB of data collected, the Windows Analytics data will not be charged. You will be able to collect all the Windows Analytics data from your devices and not incur any costs.

Note that different Azure Log Analytics plans have different data retention periods, and the Windows Analytics solutions inherit the workspace's data retention policy. So, for example, if your workspace is on the free plan then Windows Analytics will retain the previous week's worth of "daily snapshots" that are collected in the workspace.

Next Steps

Contact us at info@gilltechnologies.com or call us at +65 3159 1122 if you would like to find out more about Windows Analytics, Microsoft 365, SCCM or Intune.

Fill up the Requirements Gathering Questionnaire for Implementing SCCM if you are planning to implement SCCM.

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