by Afzal Ballim

Windows 10 New Year’s resolution – It’s a trap!

Jan 07, 2016
CIOIT StrategySmall and Medium Business

Should 2016 be the year you migrate to Windows 10 and Microsoft’s new model of windows as a service? After all, with the free upgrades that Microsoft has given to Windows 10, millions of users are already trained. Or is it a trap?

January: The moment when we’ve all finished thinking about last year and are focused on the new. Resolutions, plans and twelve months ahead of us to progress and achieve new successes. In this fresh atmosphere one of the questions many CIOs are asking themselves is if this is the year to the upgrade to Windows 10.

The bait

Giving away Windows 10 as a free upgrade has proven to be a very strong bait to get people to adopt the new Redmond operating system. According to Yusuf Mehdi, of Microsoft, since its release on July 29, 2015, Windows 10 has been rolled out to 200 million users. That’s a 140 percent faster rollout than for Windows 7 (which in my opinion is the best version so far), and about 400 percent faster than the rollout of Windows 8. This speed is not showing signs of decreasing, either. In fact, about 40 percent (or 80 million) of those adopting Windows 10 have done so since Black Friday. That’s almost 16 million a week in the last 5 weeks.

Of course, this dramatic adoption of Windows 10 is largely fueled by Microsoft giving it away for free to current Windows owners. It’s relatively rare for the home owners to buy a new version of Windows. Generally, people simply change to a new version when they upgrade their computer. How long, though, will this continue and what are the impacts for the enterprise?

The trap

Well, according to Microsoft plans, this adoption will continue and accelerate according to a well scripted timeline. Terry Myerson, Microsoft Executive VP for Windows and Devices group set the tone at the end of October 2015 with the announcement that Windows 10 will become a recommended update in 2016.

The majority of Windows’ home users have their system configured to automatically download and install recommended updates, so we can expect to see a huge increase in Windows 10 adoption when it becomes a recommended update. You can, of course, turn off automatic updates, but as Myerson says: “We strongly discourage this in today’s connected world because of the constant risk of internet threats.”

 The fear of internet threats will probably be enough to encourage a large portion of users to let the upgrade go through, whether they actually want it or not. Clearly, Microsoft want everyone to move on from XP, Vista, 7, 8 and 8.1. Windows 10 is the future as Microsoft sees it. In a clear example of this, Microsoft is starting an “experiment” to facilitate the purchase of Windows 10 in the Windows Store for someone who has a non-genuine copy of an older version of Windows. The personal user, then, seems to clearly be in the trap. What about the enterprise user?

Ensnaring the business world

Since the November Threshold update of Windows 10, Microsoft considers it enterprise ready and, according to Myerson, we are entering “the Renaissance of the Enterprise PC.” Tools like Windows Update for Business will give IT complete control over the update process of all Windows devices in the Enterprise. Mobile Device Management and Azure Active Directory Join will ensure control and management of a heterogeneous collection of desktops, laptops, tablets, smartphones and other devices.

Among the issues that the professional IT organization has to face with an upgrade of the desktop, the training and support of users is one of the most important. This is where Microsoft’s “freebie” strategy comes into play in the enterprise. With 200 million people already using Windows 10 within 5 months of its release, and with this number ready to grow perhaps exponentially, Microsoft can easily claim that the professional organizations will have an easier time than ever before with this upgrade. After all, hundreds of millions of users won’t need any training and only minimal support, right?

To back this up, according to the article by Mehdi, as of January there are 22 million devices running Windows 10 in the enterprise and 76 percent of enterprise customers are in active pilot. Clearly, the pressure is on the IT organizations to make Windows 10 rollout a priority in 2016. Of course, as we know from sometimes painful experience, the guise of employees as consumers of technology can put enormous pressure on the IT organization to rollout technology.

According to NetMarketShare, tracking web traffic showed that Windows 10 had a 9.96 percent share of the market in December. Windows 8.1 has slightly more, 10.3 percent, Windows 8 2.76 percent, Windows XP 10.93 percent and Windows 7 has 55.68 percent. Roughly speaking, only 1 in 9 devices running Windows are currently running Windows 10. Imagine the potential pressure that could come from employees if due to Windows 10 being a recommended update, the majority become Windows 10 users within the next few months.

The fact is, though, that Windows 7 is still the most used operating system in the World, and by far. Paid support for it continues through to 2020. So, although Microsoft may want you to think that everyone is rushing to Windows 10 because of the speed of rollout and claims that 76 percent of enterprise customers have active pilots, that in itself is not a compelling argument for you to build your 2016 business plan.