Migrating to a new operating system, even if it means upgrading from a very similar one, is a huge undertaking that can take months of preparation. Any business that relies heavily on its computing resources often cannot afford to take any risks but, with regards to the risk factor, staying with a soon-to-be deprecated operating system almost certainly poses the bigger risk.
Windows 10 is Microsoft’s latest operating system, having been released to manufacturing on July 15, 2015. Since then, it has undergone two major version updates with the third, codenamed Redstone 2, due for release sometime in late 2016. However, adoption of Windows 10 remains surprisingly low, particularly in the business world where Windows 7 continues to be the most common choice.
But Is There Anything New?
Some people like to upgrade for no reason other than to boast of having a higher version number but, in the world of business reliability must take precedence over preference and sentimentality. While Windows 8 was widely eschewed by business users largely due to its blatant bias towards portable consumer devices, Windows 10 does offer a few changes that might be of interest to business users.
Although most of the new features in Windows 10, such as Cortana, Universal Windows Apps and the Microsoft Edge Browser, are largely only of interest to consumers, there’s no doubt that the latest operating system greatly improves upon Windows 8 when it comes to productivity. However, Windows 10 also offers improved security, such as the Windows Hello authentication feature.
While many small businesses will do just fine with Windows 10 Pro, Windows 10 Enterprise offers many business-specific features, including Advanced Threat Protection, the Windows Upgrade Analytics Service, Windows Ink, Windows Trusted Boot, BitLocker, Windows Information Protection and Conditional Access. Ultimately, it affords businesses improved security, productivity and management.
But Then Why Is Windows 7 Still So Popular?
Windows 8 was widely derided as being a catastrophe, particularly among business users and other professionals who loathed its bias towards touchscreen devices and lack of optimal support for productivity applications. Windows 10 has successfully addressed most of these issues, including a return of the Start menu. However, adoption has been slow, and Windows 7 still dominates in the business world.
For business users, one of the biggest questions is when is the right time to migrate to a new operating system. Microsoft themselves will, unsurprisingly, say that you should migrate as soon as a new version becomes available. However, it’s usually much safer to wait a while, preferably at least a year, for the new system to evolve and improve before you can be sure that upgrading will offer a clear advantage.
Windows 10 has been around long enough and gone through enough updates to have proven itself, yet many businesses remain reluctant to upgrade, despite the fact that the upgrade path is much easier than it used to be. In fact, upgrading from Windows 7 or later to Windows 10 is largely an automated process that requires minimal user interaction. You don’t even need to reinstall your programs.
Unfortunately, there are almost always some teething problems when it comes to upgrading any computer system, even if Windows 10 might represent the most straightforward upgrade yet. Just do a Google search for Windows 10 upgrade issues and you’ll see no shortage of problems people have experienced by using the automated upgrade feature. In other words, it’s still better to wipe the computer and start over which, of course, can take a lot of time if you’re upgrading a business network comprising lots of machines.
Regardless You Won’t Have a Choice for Much Longer
Windows 10 is undoubtedly a much better operating system for business than Windows 8, and it’s arguably better than Windows 7 as well. However, whether or not your business should upgrade to Windows 10 is a bit of a moot point. After all, compulsory migration deadlines largely make the decision for you. Like it or not, Windows 10 represents the future of Windows and, as Microsoft themselves have said repeatedly, it will also be the last edition of Windows, instead receiving compulsory updates to become a dynamic service that’s always kept current.
By contrast, Windows 7 will no longer be supported at all by January, 2020. That might still seem comfortably far away in the future, but it can still take a long time to fully migrate, particularly in the case of larger businesses or those using completely different operating systems. After all, many businesses missed the arbitrary Windows XP migration deadline, forcing Microsoft to extend support for the operating system for quite a lot longer than originally planned. Whether or not Microsoft would be willing to do that again remains to be seen, but it’s perhaps better not to count on the possibility.
On the positive side, and given the shift towards delivering Windows as a service, it seems likely that upgrading to Windows 10 will be the last major operating system migration for the foreseeable future. Many business customers are still sceptical about the plan to switch towards a subscription-based model as well as the already current regular, compulsory updates, but there’s no way around the fact that this new model represents the future of Windows.
With Windows 10 being the last full-scale, standalone release of the world’s favourite operating system, it is clearly more than just another edition. Instead, it represents a shift towards an entirely new generation of operating systems by Microsoft and, most importantly, the first major step towards offering Windows as a service, likely one that will eventually by available by way of a subscription-based payment model. At the same time, previous editions of Windows will no longer be supported after January, 2020, leaving users open to serious security threats and potential compatibility issues. As such, it’s not so much a matter of whether your business should upgrade to Windows 10, but a matter of when you have to upgrade unless of course, you intend to ditch Microsoft entirely and go for a completely different operating system.