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Microsoft Partners Get More Assistance For Windows 7 To Windows 10 Transition

The company launches FastTrack for Windows 10 guidance, providing experts who can talk through deployment scenarios with partners.

Microsoft Monday unveiled a new benefit for partners that are moving customers from Windows 7 to Windows 10, with the company now offering expert assistance around Windows 10 deployments.

The end of support date for Windows 7 is set for Jan. 14, 2020, and Microsoft has made a series of investments to help with the transition, said Bob Davis, corporate vice president for Microsoft 365, in a blog post. The latest of these investments is the launch of FastTrack for Windows 10 deployment guidance.

[Related: Microsoft Channel Exec Toby Richards On New Partner Investments, The Microsoft Customer Agreement And The Windows 7 End-Of-Life Opportunity]

The benefit takes the form of free expert assistance on Windows 10 deployments for situations where there are at least 150 licenses of an eligible service or plan.

"Sometimes you have a complex scenario and aren’t even sure where to start, or you’ve encountered a problem that has your migration stalled. There are times when you need to talk to an expert to get guidance on where to go next," Davis said.

FastTrack, Davis said in the post, will assist with envisioning a technical plan and determining how to deploy new users—and will continue to offer help throughout the deployment.

Partners will be able leverage FastTrack on behalf of customers, "whether for everything Microsoft provides or just a select item such as app compatibility," a Microsoft spokesperson said in an email to CRN. "Partners can either have Microsoft work directly with the customer or use Microsoft in the background."

Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft will continue to refer additional value-added services—such as on-site work, training and customization—to partners that are outside the scope of FastTrack, the spokesperson said. "For Windows 10 moves, SCCM [System Center Configuration Manager] upgrades/architecture are a big partner opportunity where Microsoft expects to work with them."

FastTrack for Windows 10 deployment guidance joins other available benefits around moving off Windows 7, such as Windows Autopilot, which aims to simplify device setup for IT, and Desktop App Assure, which helps address issues with Windows 10 application compatibility.

"I don't think customers understand all of the things that are at their disposal in order to migrate to Windows 10," said Ric Opal, principal at Oak Brook, Ill.-based SWC Technology Partners, a BDO USA company. "App Assure is a big deal. If your app does not work, and there is no more current version, Microsoft will work with you to fix that. And they do it fast."

Overall, massive partner opportunities still remain in the transition from Windows 7 to Windows 10, Opal said.

"We've got a very robust and mature enablement and adoption team here. And I think some customers get stuck in, 'Well it doesn't look like Windows 7,' or, 'It's different.' And you really need to be deliberate about informing your users of the change, marketing the change, helping them through that change," Opal said. "And then even on an ongoing basis, as features emerge that can be leveraged for a business, those features have to be socialized with the user community so they know that they're there."

For the push to Windows 10, "customers don't know what they have available to them. FastTrack is going to light that up," Opal said. "Partner opportunity is still large. Customers have a transition—the path to modern management."

Ultimately, the new FastTrack benefit means Microsoft and its partners "might start getting customers who have the perception that they're stuck to actually get moved along," he said. "And I think it's critical that they move, especially in the context of getting current and staying current from a compliance and a security perspective. You've got to get to this platform and leverage it, just due to the pervasive nature of compliance and security as it exists in the world that we live in today."

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