Microsoft touts data harvesting tool as aid to enterprises upgrading to Windows 10

New Upgrade Analytics service collects data from corporate PCs; points out those ready to migrate to 10

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DobaKung (CC BY 2.0)

Microsoft will preview a new service today that lets enterprises mine data that Windows collects, including software usage statistics, to accelerate adoption of Windows 10.

The service, called Upgrade Analytics, was announced Tuesday by Marc-Andrea Klimaschewski, a company program manager, in a brief post to a company blog. He said that it would launch as a public preview Friday.

Klimaschewski characterized the service as a tool that businesses can use to determine whether PCs -- in general or individually -- were eligible for upgrading to Windows 10. Upgrade Analytics, Klimaschewski wrote, "Provide[s] customers with insights which allow them to quickly evaluate application and driver readiness and mitigate potential problems."

Because Klimaschewski didn't spell out details, it was unclear how the data for the analytics service will be collected, or what will be harvested. One possibility: The telemetry that Microsoft itself gathers from Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 systems.

Last year, Microsoft updated Windows 7 and 8.1 so that they used the same telemetric technology of Windows 10, replacing an older schema -- dubbed Customer Experience Improvement Program (CEIP) -- but not taking on 10's mandatory data collection.

A download offered by Microsoft to enterprises, however, suggested otherwise, or at the least, that the telemetry gathered by Microsoft would not be the sole source of information. The downloaded 51MB ZIP file contained scripts IT staffers could use to "automate many of the procedures necessary for setting up user computers with Upgrade Analytics." The scores of files archived within the ZIP included numerous references to Windows Performance Analyzer (WPA), an older tool that collects system information.

However Upgrade Analytics extracts data from individual PCs, the service itself produces a dashboard to give corporate IT a view on the state of their machines prior to a migration to Windows 10. The dashboard appears within Microsoft's Operations Management Suite (OMS), a for-a-fee extension to the popular System Center.

The dashboard shows IT administrators an up-to-date inventory of applications and device drivers on their company's PCs, and alerts them to known issues with those apps and drivers that might prevent an upgrade to Windows 10. It will also tally an organization's PCs that are ready to upgrade, and point out the most widely-used applications in the organization so IT can prioritize compatibility testing on Windows 10.

Upgrade Analytics' insights on ready-to-upgrade PCs can be exported to the company's software distribution platform to kick off the Windows 10 migration with the systems unlikely to present problems.

Although Microsoft has backed away from its goal of putting Windows 10 on a billion devices by mid-2018, Upgrade Analytics is a clear signal that the company wants to drive enterprise adoption at an accelerated tempo. That fits with the constant barrage of claims Microsoft has made that stressed an upbeat upgrade pace.

"We already have strong traction, with over 96% of our enterprise customers piloting Windows 10," CEO Satya Nadella said earlier this week during an earnings call with Wall Street.

Klimaschewski did not say what Upgrade Analytics would cost if it did come at a price, saying only that more information about the service would be posted on Microsoft's website.

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Microsoft's Upgrade Analytics service -- which is to launch as a preview today -- aims to get enterprises to adopt Windows 10 by providing data on ready PCs and the most-used applications.

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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