The Final Countdown to Windows 10

In just a few short hours, Microsoft will press the button that will launch Windows 10. Is it very eagerly awaited following the success of the Insider Preview that’s been running for the past few months as users across the globe have road tested the new Operating System, “Platform”.

Those of you using Windows PCs in your personal world may already have seen the notifications for, or signed up for, early deployment.  This is going to be a phased release, we don’t yet know how or who will get it first, but the anticipation is building and actually, the mainstream media have been very positive.

Since my last blog on this topic we’ve continued to have conversations with key customers who are keen to adopt Windows 10 early and have been actively exploiting the innovative Insider Preview approach provided by Microsoft.

In terms of planning your move to Windows 10, here are just a few things to consider:

Windows as a Service

First and foremost, there is still some “confusion” over the new servicing model provided with Windows 10. Talk of “automatic updates” is a scary prospect for organisations who by necessity have a managed ecosystem of tools and applications supporting the Desktop.  History has shown that changes to the OS, patches, updates introduce risks and occasional problems, so having this outside the enterprise control for the first time is new territory.

Luckily, further details have been provided on this in recent months that show a more “managed” approach for businesses, with two slight deviances from the “automatic update” model, namely Current Branch for Business (CBB) and Long Term Service Branch (LTSB).   I will not elaborate on these too much more as there is plenty of material in the mainstream media, but importantly they reflect the needs of enterprises for more control over change in a way that does not compromise Microsoft’s new philosophy around continual upgrades and development to the platform.  Hopefully a win/win!

Hardware

The launch of Windows 10 brings several new features that rely on specific hardware features.  Cortana, the digital assistant, requires a higher quality microphone than we usually get on devices.  Features like Windows Hello and Passport may also require new and enhanced features such as a camera to provide biometric authentication.  Even a relatively up to date device, is unlikely to have these features, and therefore we’re waiting for the key OEMs to release new devices specifically for Windows 10.  Expect these later in 2015/early 2016

Software

The perpetual problem of Operating System upgrades is application compatibility. Many organisations are still weary from the pain and expense of re-packaging or transforming their applications for the Windows XP to Windows 7 wave – and are now faced with that again now; or are they?

Microsoft have made strong claims about application compatibility from Windows 7/8 to Windows 10, quoting approximately 90% compatibility.  This is a) a very big claim and b) a great message for organisations to avoid the cost and complexity as they accelerate adoption of Windows 10.  However, this should not downplay the significance of the change being undertaken, and organisations will still need to identify processes to evaluate and test key applications prior to migrations to ensure the business can continue to operate.   In the long term, the promise of “Universal Apps” may reduce some of this complexity, catering for the new world of regular platform updates as well as delivering a seamless experience across multiple devices.  However to exploit this, organisations still need to invest in transforming or replacing their current apps with Universal Apps equivalents.

How to start your Windows 10 migration

There is definitely sufficient promise and benefit from Windows 10 for organisations to be looking at it early.  There are a number of key considerations that need to be evaluated, which means while time is still broadly on our side for migrating from Windows 7 and 8, we should consciously think about the future world.

Windows 10 is the destination platform for Microsoft, and given the continued prevalence of Windows applications despite the increasingly heterogeneous mobile world, will become the future platform for most organisations.

To start your Windows 10 journey, we’d suggest looking at specific Workstyles that would benefit from a modern, touch enabled mobile device, where you may be able to exploit Windows 10 early.  With the re-introduction of the start menu, a solid touch interface and “continuum” (a clever feature that intuitively switches between both modes depending on whether the device is docked or not), it allows you to embrace the new platform to cater for your mobile working needs.  The second area is perhaps addressing those users we tried to mobilise with Windows 8.  The problems of Windows 8 are well documented, but fundamentally it did not provide the mobile and intuitive touch experience that mobile users were seeking, nor did it provide the classic desktop environment that more static users demand.  Therefore targeted replacement and upgrade of Windows 8 with Windows 10 for these mobile users may help deliver an “early win” while you understand the impacts and implications of the new software, service and hardware models required in the future

A final note on Windows Phone

It’s important that Windows 10 is a success across “classic” device types as well as mobile devices.  With the recent announcements regarding Nokia, it has made many people question Microsoft’s commitment to phone moving forwards.  What is clear is that Microsoft absolutely need to continue with their Windows Phone proposition, the hope being that Windows 10, with a more focussed hardware development (as they do with Surface) gives them the lever to allow them to make inroads into the mobile marketplace.  While Microsoft are doing some good cross-platform work across Office 365 for their productivity apps, the phone platform needs to continue to be a core platform for them – Windows 10 will hopefully get right what has historically been a troublesome area.

About Paul Bray

Paul is Computacenter’s Chief Technologist for Workplace and User Productivity

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s