HITS celebrates major Windows upgrade amid ongoing service enhancements, other planned improvements

February 10, 2020  //  FOUND IN: Updates & Resources

To better meet the needs of Michigan Medicine customers, Health Information Technology & Services (HITS) has been working hard to replace devices, upgrade technology and improve services. Here’s a wrap-up:

HITS celebrates successful conclusion of largest IT upgrade in Michigan Medicine history

On Jan. 14, Microsoft ended support for Windows 7. Two days later, HITS celebrated the successful migration of more than 35,000 devices from Windows 7 to Windows 10 — the largest upgrade in Michigan Medicine history.

Planning began in June 2017. This included scheduling more than 500 meetings with individuals and groups across Michigan Medicine to better understand how different types of Windows users would be impacted, testing hundreds of computer applications to confirm they’d be compatible with Windows 10, and verifying that upgrades could be applied successfully in a variety of ways across the environment, with the goal of minimizing or avoiding technical issues, and lessening negative impacts on departments and users.

Upgrades began in January 2018, and continued for nearly two years. Dozens of HITS staff members, along with numerous contract employees and other partners, worked together to complete the project. During that time, the project team:

  • Performed an average of 352 upgrades per week.
  • Traveled more than 1,000 miles to upgrade devices in more than 200 physical locations.
  • Upgraded approximately 4,500 devices in University Hospital alone, the largest single location.
  • Replaced approximately two-thirds of Michigan Medicine’s entire fleet of Windows devices.

“We couldn’t have achieved this major accomplishment without tremendous help from countless members of the Michigan Medicine community,” said John McPhall, HITS senior director for architecture and operations management.

“Their willingness to help us coordinate and schedule these upgrades, and to accept some inconvenience (such as the brief downtime each upgrade required), was instrumental in helping us to complete this effort — which in the end, has benefited the vast majority of Windows users,” said McPhall.

Ongoing “Own Your Upgrade” self-serve updates give users more options, greater flexibility

While Michigan Medicine’s Windows 7-to-Windows 10 upgrade marks the last “major” PC operating system upgrade, it doesn’t mean the end of improvements in its Windows environment.

That’s because recently, Microsoft switched to a continuous-release model that features more frequent, less disruptive upgrades. As a result, many (but not all) Windows users now receive pop-up requests — asking them to install an upgrade, either then or at a later time.

This “Own Your Upgrade” approach was designed to give Windows users more flexibility and control over when these updates get applied to their device. Those who receive one of these requests are encouraged to accept it and follow the prompts.

“Asking users to accept their own Windows updates is a new practice in our environment, but we think most users will come to see it as a crucial part of keeping their device healthy and up-to-date, and making sure they have the best performance, latest features and robust information security protection,” said McPhall.

To date, approximately 65 percent of Michigan Medicine Windows devices have received the first of these annual, incremental updates, and HITS is already preparing for the next round — expected to begin in July 2020.

HITS introduces “Linux for Research” option to meet specialized customer demand

While most Michigan Medicine computer users rely on either a Windows or Mac device, other users (especially in Research-focused areas) have asked for support for devices that run on the Linux operating system. To meet this need, HITS recently introduced a new “Linux for Research” option.

Among the benefits of the new configuration are quicker onboarding to high-speed research networks, better integration with U-M data-storage systems, and enhanced support for both standard and custom computing applications.

Mac improvements coming soon

HITS is also working to deliver substantial improvements that will benefit users of Michigan Medicine supported Apple/Macintosh devices. This includes upgrades to its existing Mac platform that will improve performance, enable users to use the most up-to-date Mac operating systems, and provide a more convenient ways to find and access many commonly-requested software programs and applications.

Mac users are encouraged to stay tuned for additional updates and information.

Additional HITS service enhancements recently announced

In addition to device upgrades/improvements, HITS has also recently introduced a number of service enhancements designed to make getting help faster and more convenient — including live chat support, improvements to its service portal, and a new way to schedule appointments at its three Help Me Now drop-in locations.

“As part of our effort to constantly improve the way we serve our customers, we regularly ask for feedback,” said Michael Warden, HITS senior director for business IT.

Warden said that one thing the department consistently heard was that employees want better, faster and more convenient ways to get help.

“The introduction of live chat support, improvements to our Customer Service Portal, and offering scheduled appointments at our three Help Me Now drop-in locations are just three ways we’re delivering on that feedback,” Warden said. “Over time, we look forward to leveraging this valuable information to continue improving the HITS customer experience.”