With the recent launch of Windows 10, Microsoft is looking to position this latest iteration of its operating system (OS) as a ‘new-generation’ of end-user computing, with an enterprise focus that promises a unified experience across a number of devices from a smart phone screen, to a conference room display.
Transitioning to a new OS however, is a large undertaking for an enterprise business. Migrating hundreds or thousands of devices to a new system will require significant planning and investment in both time and money, and a smooth transition is essential to minimise disruption to staff and business processes.
With this in mind, there are several considerations that enterprise businesses should take into account when deciding whether to migrate to Windows 10.
Windows 10 comes with a variety of improved security measures which support enterprise data protection policies and access management. Active Directory access via Azure Cloud reduces reliance on additional passwords when moving between desktop accounts and cloud services. It will also offer a variety of biometric authentication options. Overall, Microsoft is also continually improving security at the OS and hardware level and improving defences against Advanced Persistent Threats.
2. Windows 10 vs Windows 8
It is generally agreed that Windows 8 was not as user-friendly as most of its predecessors. Windows 10 is looking to undo many of the problems users had with Windows 8, taking much of its inspiration from the more popular Windows 7. The ‘start’ button that most users are familiar with will return and the general look and feel is more ‘classic’ Windows.
While this may seem like a trivial change, it does mean that users are more likely to be familiar with the interface and therefore will be able to transition to using it more quickly. This can save the enterprise business from having to retrain end users, and minimise the impact of transition on workflow within the business.
There is an expectation that Windows 10 will be Microsoft’s last full OS release, after which it will move to an incremental rollout framework, which the vendor has referred to as ‘Windows-as-a-service’.
“This move is mostly a response to new market realities,” Gartner’s Kleynhans and Silver write. “Microsoft is the only remaining vendor that directly tries to monetise a client device OS.
“Users have become conditioned to seeing the OS as part of the device, and something that should just get updated for the life of that device. Microsoft’s approach of charging for upgrades has seemed out of step.”
While consumers and small businesses can upgrade to Windows 10 for free, enterprises will continue to pay for Enterprise licences and Software Assurance support. In return however, enterprises will be able to manage how and when updates are deployed, rather than automatically accepting them, with the power to control the frequency and criticality of patches and updates. This also means that the enterprise can avoid falling behind on software versions, using the continuous delivery model to update on a regular basis.
4. Enterprise features
Windows 10 has a range of features which are targeted at the enterprise, including mobile device management options which support both BYOD and corporate-owned device policies. These include, support for managing multiple users, control over the Windows Store, VPN configuration, and device wipe capabilities. The universal app also allows the OS to be deployed on almost any device.
Windows 10 will also feature a custom business app store which can be used to handle both single and volume purchases for employees. This new app store will provide flexible distribution options and licence management solutions, and businesses will also be able to able to control which applications employees can see and install through a customised storefront.
Rolling out a new operating system across a large enterprise will always be a difficult and costly task. Not only software licencing costs, but transition costs, updated application costs, and training costs must be taken into account.
Organisations however, cannot wait too long to upgrade. The deadline for Windows 7 support is January 2020. Considering that a full migration can take around 18 months this can be closer than it seems for enterprise businesses.
While Microsoft is promising high compatibility with Windows 7, organisations must still plan and budget for a substantial effort for migrating any legacy applications which may need remediation or upgrading.
While many organisations may be happy to stick with their current Windows 7 or Windows 8 system, unless the organisation wishes to leave the Microsoft ecosystem entirely, upgrading will eventually become a necessity. Enterprise businesses must therefore ensure that they have a proper plan in place to transition as painlessly as possible.