Microsoft quietly released a preview version of its new Upgrade Analytics service on July 22, a new Operations Management Suite (OMS) tool that uses telemetry data gathered by an organization's Windows systems to help IT managers determine whether their applications and drivers are ready for the move to Windows 10.
OMS is Microsoft's cloud-based IT monitoring, automation and data protection software offering for hybrid cloud environments.
The Redmond, Wash., software giant has been weathering some criticism about its data collection practices, particularly after last year's big Windows 10 launch. The operating system is bundled with Cortana, Microsoft's virtual assistant technology akin to Siri and Google Now, and other features that can report information back to the company about a user's activities, device settings and system health, stoking privacy concerns. Meanwhile, the company argues that the data it collects is used to improve the quality and security of its software.
In terms of driving enterprise adoption, however, telemetry data can prove useful in helping businesses upgrade their PC fleets to Windows 10.
"In order to drive a Windows Upgrade project efficiently, customers are looking for data that allows [them] to evaluate their application and driver ecosystem using a risk balanced approach," explained Marc-Andrea Klimaschewski, a program manager on Microsoft's Windows Compatibility team, in a blog post. "While some applications are business critical and need to be validated before upgrading the operating system since they are widely deployed and frequently used, some applications may only be deployed on a handful of machines."
Upgrade Analytics enables IT managers to take an inventory of their organizations' applications and drivers that also includes usage data. The typical enterprise organization can house hundreds of applications, making the task of testing each and every one of them for an operating system upgrade a cost- and time-prohibitive prospect, noted Klimaschewski.
The tool also alerts administrators to known application and driver issues, offering them mitigation strategies. A per-computer readiness reporting feature allows IT pros to target specific machines for a Windows 10 upgrade. Finally, the product provides organizations with a way to track whether an application or driver is ready for Windows 10, he added.
Upgrade Analytics is available as an add-on for existing OMS workspaces. Alternately, customers can sign up for new workspaces with the offering enabled. Instructions on getting the solution up and running are available in this blog post.
"Data generated by Upgrade Analytics is not counted towards your OMS quota, so you can use a free-tier OMS workspace for Upgrade Analytics. There will be no extra charges generated by Upgrade Analytics data if you are using a Standard of Premium tier workspace," informed Klimaschewski. The solution's dashboard typically lights up with data within 48 hours of setting it up.
Administrators can decide which machines send data (Windows 7, 8 and 8.1) for themselves, he assured. Windows 10 systems must be set to the "Basic" telemetry level or above to send data to the service.