Windows Refresh | Your questions answered

A summary of the questions and answers from the open meeting about the Windows Refresh project held in November 2022.

The questions and answers are divided into the following sections: 


1.    What is the timescale for this project? 

The project began in August 2022, reviewing technical readiness and validating the data. Validating data, ie who has a University Windows 7 desktop or laptop, what it is used for, who has a Windows 10 desktop or laptop etc is continuing, but we have started pilots for the Windows 10 refresh (to an up to date version of Windows 10) and the Windows 7 replacement (where computers will be replaced with new devices running Windows 11). 
The main Windows 10 update will happen through November 2022, and the main Windows 7 replacement will happen in December 2022 and January 2023. 

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2.    Will the project involve any cost to service/faculty budgets?

The cost of the Windows Refresh budget is being paid centrally. However, this is for like for like replacement, ie replacing laptops with laptops and desktops with desktops. If an individual requires a higher spec machine, or a laptop rather than a desktop, there will be an additional cost which the faculty or service would need to cover. They would not need to cover the full cost, just the difference from the ‘like to like’ replacement. However if the value of the quantity of devices that the faculty validate to be “decommissioned” covers the difference in cost, then the project will cover the difference for the higher spec models. Please also note that only the models of the devices set by the project can be ordered via the agreed factory services
The cost of peripherals (eg additional monitors or keyboards) will need to be funded by faculties or services. 

3.    Will costs be eventually be charged back to the schools or services? 

The project is funded to do this replacement activity, and replacements carried out by the project will not be charged back to schools or services. There is an ongoing conversation with the Faculty Operations Directors about how future replacements eg Win 10 devices will be funded. 

4.    What happens if we do not have the budget to replace a laptop?

The cost of replacing devices is centrally funded through the project. Faculties and services will not be charged unless the cost difference for the requested device is higher than a “like for like” switch 

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Project questions

5.    Which devices are being replaced, and what version of Windows will be installed? 

If you have a computer that is currently running Windows 7, it will be replaced by a new device running Windows 11 or decommissioned if no longer required. 
If you have a computer that is currently running Windows 10, the version of Windows 10 will be remotely upgraded so that it is up to date. 

6.    How can you be sure you are covering the whole University and nobody has been missed? 

We using a range of resources, both electronically and also physically. We are gathering an inventory of all the devices and doing a physical site survey, going into rooms to check the devices and record their serial numbers. We will then map all that data and review it with business managers in all the areas so we are confident which devices need to be replaced or updated and which can be decommissioned. 

7.    Who is the main contact in case of queries? 

In the first instance, please check the Windows Refresh SharePoint site and use the contact form to contact the project team. 

8.    I’ve been getting repeated Windows update messages over the last few months. Is this project in relation to this? 

The project is not specifically in relation to this. However, we are aiming to get everyone who uses Windows 10 on an up-to-date version. After that you will still see occasional messages to restart your computer following an update, as updates are regularly rolled out by Microsoft. 

9.    There is likely to be a lot of requests for people to upgrade from Windows 10 to Windows 11. What is the process for this, or is that part of the project but at a later stage?

There is not a huge difference between Windows 10 and 11, so at the moment there is no technical requirement to upgrade. We are starting to discuss the upgrade path with faculties and services, but this will be a more gradual annual process rather than the ‘big bang’ approach of this project. 

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Device replacement

10.    What are the options we can choose from and is there a standard? 

The specifications of relevant devices are shown in the Windows Refresh PowerPoint presentation (on the IT website)

11.    Do individual staff need to identify themselves as Windows 7 users, or will they be contacted? 

Individuals do not need to identify themselves, this will be done as part of our data collection, including reviewing who last logged on a particular device. If you receive an email about the project which you think does not apply to you, please contact the project team. 

12.    Will there be much disruption while devices are replaced?

We're trying to minimize disruption as much as possible and will be targeting all the devices in a specific faculty, service or building at the same time to reduce the amount of time we need to be in your area. 
Replacing devices: If your device is being replaced, you will be sent a pre-replacement checklist. Please make sure you complete these to ensure the transition is as smooth as possible. You do not need to be present if we are replacing your desktop (but you can be if you wish). 

13.    During the inspections of the labs, the people collecting the data said they were only recording computers that are attached to the internet. Is that correct?  

We know there are a few older devices (eg running Windows XP) that are isolated from the network. These devices would not necessarily be replaced, but we should still be capturing the data. If you think any devices have been missed, please contact the project team. 

14.    Where a desktop machine is replaced with a laptop, will a docking station also be provided?

We are currently looking to move towards a more universal solution where everyone uses the same kind of docking station or alternative. However, docking stations are not in scope of the Windows Refresh project, so laptops provided through the project will not be supplied with a docking station. 

15.    How will the current lead times on providing laptops affect this project? 

We recognise there is an issue with long lead times for replacing laptops through the normal process. Nobody will be left without a device during this project. Your current device will not be taken away until the new device is available. The laptops that are being ordered for this project are expected to arrive in early 2023, and we are working with our suppliers to improve on the lead times. New desktops are arriving much sooner, and have already started being delivered. 

16.     ‘Like for like’ PC replacement doesn't seem to chime with the one device narrative for hybrid flexible working. Shouldn’t people have laptops? 

The project has been funded to address the security issue caused by computers running the unsupported version of Windows (7), so the main criteria is to ensure everyone has an up-to-date version of Windows. Faculties and services may want to move away from desktops to support hybrid working better, either not replacing like for like now, or by scheduling it for the future. However, this project is not funded to replace all desktops with laptops. 

17.    Why does my PC (Windows 7) need to be replaced rather than upgraded? 

Many of the devices running Windows 7 are four or more years old and either out of warranty, or soon to be out of warranty. While they could be upgraded, the machine might not function properly afterwards, and is more likely to need replacing soon anyway. We also want to help faculties and services plan for a regular annual replacement of a certain percentage of their machines, rather than have to do another ‘big bang’ project. 

Additionally, upgrading the computer would take four to five hours, leaving you without a device during this time, whereas replacing your computer should only take 15-20 minutes. You’ll also have the advantage that your old computer will be kept for a couple of weeks so that if you find anything is missing on the new device, you can ask for it to be retrieved. 

This project will be lower impact to you, the end user, and will also help to future proof the University.

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18.    Some Windows 7 laptops are currently connected to experimental equipment in labs. If they are upgraded, they will need replacement software, which can cost thousands of pounds. Has that cost also been taken into account?

The physical site survey will identify any computers connected to equipment like this. Where we find these exceptions we will work very closely with the owner of that device to understand the right deployment path. In some cases, it can be replaced. However, we will look at each case individually and if the cost of the software is prohibitive we may need to look at alternatives, for example removing the device from the network or creating a separate more secure network it can attach to so that it does not cause a security issue. 

19.    Does the project involve updating the outdated software on desktop computers around campus?

The project will ensure everyone is running an up to date version of Windows (10 or 11). 
Where devices are being replaced, users have been asked to check the software they need and ensure it is on the list of software available, either for installation or via AppsAnywhere. If the software is not listed, it can be requested. This will ensure the latest versions of software are available. 
Ultimately this project will shape how devices are delivered in the future, and we are aiming to have devices shipped directly to you, with the basic apps installed and you will be able to use AppsAnywhere to get any additional software. 
We know that some applications do not work on Windows 11. In those cases we will need to go through a thorough process to understand what is compatible and how we can provide it. 

20.    Will Office 2016 or Office 365 be installed? 

New devices will arrive with Office 365 installed. 
Computers that are being upgraded to the latest version of Windows 10 will also have Office 365 installed if it was on the device previously. If the computer was running Office 2016 or another version, then this will remain the same.

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