Getting ready for Windows 10?

As you’re all no doubt aware by now, Windows 10 will be with us shortly, supported by a great degree of excitement from the technical community who have been evaluating the platform in recent months via the “Insider Preview” programme.

Talk has quickly moved from “How good will Windows 10 be”, following the well documented failings of Windows 8 it needs to be significantly better from a user perspective, to “How will enterprises view and adopt it”, particularly given some of the changes in technology and philosophy associated with the new release.

It may have passed you by, but Windows 7 passed out of mainstream support in January this year, and extended support ceases in January 2020.  While these are highly notable dates, it’s clear from the Windows XP experience that this event, in and of itself is not enough to drive a shift to a new platform.  Any move to a new OS, particularly in enterprise, is driven by key new features, particularly given the challenges associated with upgrades – the mass logistics, application compatibility and user training to mention just three.

Whilst Windows 10 offers a lot of new functionality and benefits, and is a much more “usable” experience, it does seem to lack specific compelling features that would encourage organisations “en masse” to move.  So the question remains:

How are Microsoft going to entice the organisations who have adopted Windows 7 to move quickly to Windows 10?

My expectation is that adoption of Windows 10 will be organic.  There may be specific functionality that benefits particular user types, particularly when you align the OS to different hardware types and applications to meet specific user needs (this is where User Workstyle Analysis is of benefit to an organisation).  As organisations refresh their devices, Windows 10 will slowly permeate into the environment in a much more gradual manner.   The technology shift to support Windows 10 is quite limited, allowing adoption to happen simply, and marks a shift towards what we term a “Dynamic Platform” where technology is no longer an inhibitor to change, but supports the need for business agility though an a flexible and responsive technology infrastructure.  This is a new approach for everybody, as organisations historically downgraded devices to maintain consistency in enterprise, but we should be looking to move to a “new way” where possible.

Enterprise interest has primarily related to traditional “productivity” endpoints, i.e. the laptops and desktops, but Windows 10 will be a unified platform covering Tablets and Smartphones too.  This, in theory, provides a compelling proposition, but how successful Microsoft will be given the dominance of Android and iOS in the hearts and minds of users and consumers is yet to be seen.  The opportunity in enterprise seems far greater than in the consumer markets, but it will still be a significant change from where we are today.

The key new features in Windows 10 represent a huge change in philosophy for Microsoft.  “Universal Apps”, which are applications that run from a single code-base across any device form- factor, sounds enticing, but is predicated on (re)development of such apps using this code-base.  Existing applications will not directly benefit from this, and many organisations have already shifted towards Browser based standards for app development and/or native mobile apps from the other dominant platforms.  And perhaps even more notably is the shift in servicing model with Windows 10.  “Patch Tuesday” will be no more, and ongoing updates and new functionality will be provided directly by Microsoft directly to devices in the same way as iOS or Android updates are today.  The key challenge being the impact of such a dynamic or “evergreen” approach to enterprises where the need for management of change is ever present.

Our initial testing of Windows 10 under the “Insider Preview” programme has been very positive from a user perspective, and also in core application compatibility.  My colleagues across our technology teams will shortly start a series of more technical blogs about the changes and features of Windows 10 to help you consider and plan your adoption as we move towards the formal launch.

All we need now is a formal release date from Microsoft….  With lots of early interest from customers for selective pilots and deployment, we’re ready to get started!

About Paul Bray

Paul is Computacenter’s Chief Technologist for Digital Workplace @PSBray

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