The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has completed the upgrade of all of its 2740 PC and laptops to Microsoft\u2019s latest operating system, Windows 8.1.\n\u201cWe\u2019ve been planning the move from XP for more than 18 months. After discussions with Microsoft, we delayed the rollout to ensure we\u2019d roll out the latest version, and reduce the risk of running multiple upgrades,\u201d says Tracy Voice, acting deputy director general, corporate services.\n\u201cWe decided not to purchase the extended support for XP offered by Microsoft from 8th April,\u201d she says, referring to the cut-off date for Microsoft\u2019s support for the operating system, \u201cas we were on track to complete the upgrade by 20 June and had completed a full risk assessment, which rated the security risk as low.\u201d\n\n We could have easily upgraded to Windows 7 as planned, but once you challenge the status quo, it is amazing the results you can get and yes, we upgraded to Windows 8.1. Tracy Voice, Ministry for Primary Industries\nAs to a key advice for organisations undertaking the same project, Voice states: \u201cRemember to always challenge the status quo.\n\u201cWe could have easily upgraded to Windows 7 as planned," she tells CIO New Zealand. "But once you challenge the status quo, it is amazing the results you can get and yes, we upgraded to Windows 8.1.\u201d\nForging a good working relationship with external organisations involved in the move was critical, she adds. \u201cCooperation between all parties - MPI, Fujitsu and Microsoft \u2013 the reality is, you need all of them working together."\nMPI says it will also roll out Office 2013 later this year, followed by a new electronic content management as a service system (ECMaaS) in 2015. Both are compatible with Windows 8.1.\nVoice says a positive outcome of the migration was the ministry identified and significantly reduced the number of applications used.\nShe says the deployment was an important step for MPI to enable a future ready platform for new tools that will help staff work and share information more efficiently.\n\nPointers for migration: Work with 'champion' users\nMPI was formed from the merger in 2012 of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, the Ministry of Fisheries and the New Zealand Food Safety Authority. It ranks number 58 in the CIO100, the annual report on the top ICT using organisations in New Zealand.\nA critical part of the migration to the new operating system was the creation of a team of Windows 8.1 \u2018champions\u2019 who were upgraded to the system earlier than everyone else.\nRelated: Insider\u2019s guide to change management\n\u201cTheir role was to promote the rollout within their teams and be on hand for queries when their colleagues were upgraded,\u201d says Debbie Caterer of the ministry\u2019s communications team. \u201cWe met with them initially and showed them how it worked, and followed this up with weekly emails to update them on the rollout.\n\u201cThe \u2018champions\u2019 were great at reminding staff to check they\u2019d done all the preparation tasks (running a script and moving files) before the upgrade happened. Then they usually checked in to see if people needed a hand using the new system.\nMeanwhile, the learning and development team created two to three minute tutorials on the intranet.\nThese tutorials gave an introduction to Windows 8.1, using the desktop, and functionality such as pining\/unpinning tiles and tailoring their taskbar. This was supported by a section on frequently asked questions and answers, which was updated regularly.\nStaff received regular updates which encouraged them to use the training tools and ask questions.\n\u201cWe also promoted some earlier adopters to share their story of how simple the upgrade was, and how it was enabling them to work faster and smarter,\u201d says Caterer.\nRelated: healthAlliance retires Windows XP and moves to Windows 7\n\nJeff Healey, public sector director, Microsoft New Zealand, says with the move to Windows 8.1, the ministry now has a modern platform to help in its business goals to grow and protect the country\u2019s primary industries.\n Windows 8.1 adds premium features that address the mobility, security, management, and virtualisation needs of today\u2019s enterprise. Jeff Healey, Microsoft\n\u201cWindows 8.1 adds premium features that address the mobility, security, management, and virtualisation needs of today\u2019s enterprise,\u201d says Healey.\nSend news tips and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org\nFollow Divina Paredes on Twitter: @divinap\nFollow CIO New Zealand on Twitter:@cio_nz\nSign up for CIO newsletters for regular updates on CIO news, views and events.\nJoin us on Facebook.