Want a good Windows experience? Focus first on hardware | #itsecurity | #infosec

Someone recently asked me what version of Windows I recommend deploying on a system. They pointed to the various Windows versions available, including Enterprise SKUs, Windows 10 Professional and Windows 10 Home. For most small and mid-size businesses (SMBs) and home users, I recommend Windows 10 or 11 Professional — which you can move up to even if you initially purchase Windows 10 or 11 Home. Professional gives you more control over updates and exposes local group policies so you can control more items in the OS.

Another important point is to make sure the computer you buy has appropriate hardware. In particular, that means having a solid-state drive (SSD).

The other day I helped someone set up a new PC with Windows 11 and realized again how important having an SSD is. After boot-up, the PC’s mechanical hard drive was pegged at 100% disk usage and the system was basically unusable. I opened Device Manager and confirmed my suspicion: the drive wasn’t an SSD. I let the system sit for a while — a long while — until the disk utilization was reasonable.  While the laptop had enough RAM, it clearly did not have the appropriate hard drive for Windows 11 (or even Windows 10).

Another issue when buying PCs right now involves supply chain constraints; some businesses are having to buy hardware with any version of Windows and then upgrading.

Most likely, you will only find systems with Windows 11 Home, not Windows 10, in the stores. While Windows 11 remains a work in progress, it can be tamed through the use of third-party tools such as Start11, which reverts the menu system back to what’s like in Windows 10. If you decide to keep the centered Windows 11 menu system, be aware that Microsoft is in the process of making more changes to the Start Menu system and the Task Manager in response to feedback. Once you purchase Windows 11 Home you can easily purchase an upgrade to Windows 11 Professional, which makes it easier to defer feature releases, pause updates, and set update settings than having to use registry keys or other workarounds.

If you’re deploying Windows 11 as an SMB or for a home office, you might run into issues with older hardware such as home NAS devices that rely on SMB version 1 file sharing. In the future, Windows 11 will be shipped with SMBv1 disabled, meaning you may need to junk your old — and probably now unsupported — NAS devices, or find a way to enable SMBv2 or SMBv3 to continue to use them. My advice: find a community forum for your NAS device and you should get real-world advice on whether it’s better to retire the old system or remove it from your network.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

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