Windows 10 could salvage 8, but is it compelling enough for enterprises to upgrade?

Windows 10 could salvage 8, but is it compelling enough for enterprises to upgrade?

Two CIOs and Forrester analyst discuss

Several CIOs have welcomed news of Microsoft’s Windows 10, arguing it will make amends for what to enterprises, even as they question its third-party applications compatibility.

Bernard Wansink, CIO at Schiavello Group, described Windows 8 as a “knee-jerk reaction” to operating systems moving away from being solely on the desktop to mobile devices.

“Vendors struggled to introduce touch screens, active pens and hybrid laptop/tablet models into their ranges,” he told CIO Australia. “Users found the experience confusing and foreign based on the traditional experience. The new interface coupled with limited hardware solution made moving to Windows 8 an issue for the end user and enterprise as a whole.”

Wansink saw Windows 10 for enterprises reducing the complexity of re-training, as it allows new technology to be introduced with a consistent experience and one platform supported over multiple devices.

“Windows 10 shows Microsoft has listened to its user base, by adjusting the end-user experience, based on device functionality to enable flexible working practices,” he said.

“Windows 10 is a make-or-break release for Microsoft. With Linux, Android and Mac OSX/iOS all moving into the enterprise space, there has never had more competition in this segment. End users are now influencing enterprise environments like never before, so if it can’t complete it will drop its market leading status - aka BlackBerry and Novell.”

Johan Sulaiman, head of IT at LEK Consulting, is considering trialling Windows 10 when it gets released. Should the benefits prove substantial, he will consider making a plan to migrate from Windows 7.

Features of Windows 10 that appeal to him include:

  • Enterprise-grade security, identity and information protection features;
  • Simplified management and deployment to help lower costs, including in-place upgrades from Windows 7;
  • Extended built-in mobile device management (MDM) capabilities to embrace a mobile-first strategy;
  • Ability to provide an additional layer of protection using containers and data separation at the application and file level;
  • Ability to create user identities for accessing devices, apps and sites that improve resistance to breach, theft or phishing.

According to Forrester vice-president and principal analyst serving CIOs, John Brand, what Microsoft has tried to do with Windows 10 is bridge the divide between devices is in a much more effective way.

“If you think about the Windows 8 environment, the problem was about switching modes: You had to go from a touchscreen mode to a desktop mode, instead of something that worked across both mediums,” he commented.

However, many enterprises may not find Windows 10 is compelling enough for them to make the upgrade, said Brand. Whether the OS will easily work with current third-party apps is something he is sceptical of.

Read more: IT doesn’t see much value in making Windows 8 enterprise standard: Forrester

“Those kinds of capabilities [to securely manage mobile devices] are already being delivered by third-party solution providers. Are people going to be compelled enough to switch or throw out their existing investments in those solutions?” he asked. “I don’t think they will unless they solve more problems than they create. They are much more likely to stay with the solutions that they have already got in place. I suspect there are probably a good number of enterprises that will choose to skip 10.”

Sulaiman also questioned whether third-party apps will work on Windows 10, along with whether any of his existing home and work laptops will handle Windows 10, and minimum hardware levels required.

“While it’s a worthy goal to try and bridge and blend those environments, you have to do it well to make it useful,” Brand commented. “And if it becomes an issue of manageability across all of those devices in the way the user interface renders, and the application version issues, and the complexity of development for the applications – they are the kinds of things that will damage Microsoft as an enterprise computing player."

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