Microsoft’s big reveal of Windows 10 has created the possibility that many enterprises won’t ever adopt the Windows 8 operating system.
With many enterprise organisations only recently completing migration to Windows 7 from Windows XP, and some still using XP despite Microsoft ending support, IT managers are now faced with a decision on whether to skip Windows 8 altogether.
Announcing Windows 10 in San Francisco on Tuesday, a Microsoft executive stressed that Windows 10 will be familiar to end users “whether they're coming from Windows 7 or Windows 8.”
Telsyte analyst Rodney Gedda predicted many organisations running Windows 7 will jump straight to Windows 10 after it is released in late 2015.
“What a lot of organisations might do is keep existing assets for a year or two longer than they would ordinarily,” he told Computerworld Australia.
That’s what many organisations did when Microsoft released the much-derided Windows Vista in 2006, he said.
“There weren’t a lot of enterprises looking at that operating system and thinking, ‘I have to be there.’”
Instead, they sat on the fence with their existing IT assets until the next OS release, Windows 7, he said.
A big problem with Windows 8 was that the user interface was so different from 7, focused on touch screens when many organisations felt they didn’t have a need for touch, said Gedda.
Windows 10 is not a “complete backpedal” from 8, but it does respond to market demand for a desktop experience more akin to version 7, said Gedda. As a result, there is likely to be less pushback from Microsoft users than was seen with Windows 8, he said.
Microsoft has added several features to entice enterprises to make the move.
“It’s not just more familiar from a user experience standpoint,” Windows enterprise program management lead, Jim Alkove, wrote in a blog post.
He highlighted the ability to upgrade from Windows 7 or 8 without wiping the device first.
“We are creating a streamlined, reliable in-place upgrade process that can be initiated using current management infrastructure. Through new dynamic provisioning capabilities, businesses will be able to configure off-the-shelf devices, without reimaging.”
Also, Microsoft has promised strengthened security, identity and information protection, Alkove said.
Mobility is a big emphasis for Windows 10, with Microsoft promising a single, unified OS that can adapt to different screen sizes.
For example, the behaviour of the Start button can change depending on whether the use is using a touchscreen or a keyboard and mouse.
In the latter, a resurrected Start menu pops up from the bottom-left of the screen. The menu has been enhanced with Windows 8-style tiles to the right of the traditional list of programs.
But when pressed on a tablet, the Start button opens a touch-friendly screen similar to the Windows 8 modern interface.
In addition, to help enterprises manage their workers’ mobile devices, Microsoft said Windows 10 will have built-in mobile device management (MDM).
Microsoft is in a tough position where to stay relevant it must embrace the rise of mobile computing without neglecting the mouse-and-keyboard desktop, said Gedda.
“It’s still got the best support in terms of applications for the traditional desktop,” he said. “But the real threat is the change in the way we use our computers.”
“The desktop’s still relevant, but Microsoft has to be more relevant in the changing market, not just the existing market it’s competing in … If it can accomplish that with Windows 10, then it’s done a good job.”