Should My Business Upgrade to Windows 10?
An across-the-board upgrade of your business’ device operating systems (let alone to Windows 10) is no laughing matter. In fact, it is a process that may take anywhere from 6 to 18 months, costing thousands of dollars. When considering an OS upgrade, CTOs and Heads of IT must consider many questions:
- Is the new, potential OS stable and ready for adoption? Are other businesses already moving towards it?
- Does it provide significant improvements and are the new features worth the trouble?
- Are all my users’ programs compatible with the new OS? Will their productivity be impacted negatively or positively by an OS upgrade?
- Are there potential security or privacy issues to consider during the transition? How do we protect our data against that?
- Should our users receive a hardware refresh to go along with the OS update? If so, we’ll need to worry about asset disposition of the EOL hardware, and provisioning our employees with new hardware.
- How much training and support will be needed to adapt users to the new OS and/or hardware?
- Is an upgrade within our budget this year?
- How do we complete all of the above as smoothly and efficiently as possible?
Evidently, an OS upgrade can be quite a headache. It has now been 12 months since the public release of Windows 10, and IT decision-makers in Indianapolis, the United States, and all over the world are now considering the very same questions above: Is it time for us to upgrade to Windows 10? Why? Why not? However, it is not actually a question of, “Do, or do not?” for businesses, but really, “Now, or later?”. After all, Microsoft has already ended ‘mainstream support’ for Windows 7 on January 13, 2015, and is scheduled to end ‘extended support’ on January 14, 2020.
So upgrade now, or later? Though many of the questions above can only be answered by your company and your IT department, let’s look at a few:
Is Windows 10 stable and ready for corporate adoption?
Yes and no.
Though there doesn’t seem to be any major instability on the Os level itself, some have users have run into problems during the upgrade process. Some devices even necessitated a clean install of Windows 10 to ensure stability. Microsoft, however, has announced that Windows 10 is ready for businesses as of the November Threshold update. Again, the most important issue here is to check that your users’ drivers and programs are ready for the move to a new operating system.
Among home users and some professionals, Windows 10 adoption has been the fastest of any OS in history, thanks to Microsoft’s new Windows-as-a-service model (with free upgrades to users from Windows 7 and 8). As of July 2016, Windows 7 has dropped to 36.8% of worldwide market share with Windows 10 in second at 21.3%, according to StatCounter.
But wait! Aren’t the free upgrades gone?
Yes and no. Officially, the free upgrade offer has ended. You’ll need to purchase a license key in order to receive Windows 10 (for the foreseeable future). However, a workaround still exists (at date of publication).
If you’re an administrator, note that there are specific steps you will need to take to prevent your users from unwittingly updating their machines to Windows 10. See here.
Does Windows 10 offer significant improvements?
Yes, it does. Windows 10 boasts new or improved user-facing features such as voice commands, a virtual assistant (Cortana), virtual desktops, the action center, proper touchscreen and pen support, battery saver functionality, file histories, Microsoft Edge (the reincarnation of Internet Explorer), and of course, improved speed and performance. The imminent Anniversary Update brings even more features to the table, including improved pen support, Android & iOS notification mirroring, and even a Linux Bash shell.
From a security and system management perspective, the most important feature introduced by Microsoft is automatic, continuous security patches (in contrast to the monthly ‘Patch Tuesdays’ of the past). Other interesting features include Device Guard, Secure Boot, active directory access through Azure Cloud, biometric and two-step authentication support, and enterprise data protection privileges.
The million dollar question though: Those are some ‘neat’ features, but do any of them actually matter to your users and your business?
In the end, the decision to upgrade can only be answered by your business’ and employees’ needs and concerns. If there is an urgent need to proceed with an upgrade, then go for it. Otherwise, as history has shown us, the vast majority of enterprises will take a slow, steady, and staggered approach.
Photo Credit: “Windows 10” by brar_j / CC BY-SA 2.0