Windows 10 upgrade help is here, but enterprises may need a use case for universal apps

Windows 10 is here, and there’s no shortage of help available from Microsoft partners willing to help enterprises make the transition.

Just as the new operating system hit the market, HP was one company who announced a slew of tools aimed at helping organizations make the move. Its portfolio of services include the HP Test Drive Services for Windows 10, HP Transformation Services for Windows 10, HP Roadmap Service for Windows 10, and the HP WebApp Accelerator Service for Internet Explorer 11.

One the key transition hurdles for any new operating system is application compatibility, but Chris Moyer, VP for HP’s mobility and workplace practice for enterprise services, said if an IT department has already done the work to make their applications work on either Windows 7 or Windows 8, there will be few hiccups moving to Windows 10. “The upgrade is never seamless and simple in enterprises because there are lots of control points,” he said. “But the number of apps that have challenges in Windows 10 are few and it’s easy to detect why.”

Moyer said organizations will obviously want to have a roadmap for the upgrade with an eye to application capability, and will also want to pay attention to how they provision services in active directory, particularly if they built an entire security model around it. He said they should also look at the data protection capabilities that Windows 10 provides them out of the box. From a hardware perspective, Microsoft is advertising Windows 10 as needing no more horsepower than Windows 8, but drivers will still need testing. “There is no way to circumvent testing,” said Moyer.

So why should enterprises make the jump to Windows 10?

Moyer said touch applications are good reason, especially if an organization is still on 7 and wants to see if certain applications will be easier to use in a touch environment. It also makes sense if they want to leverage Microsoft’s universal app platform across phones, tables, lab tops and desktops. Ultimately, he said, enterprises making the move from Windows 7 are going to be the most comfortable with the change thanks in part to the return of the familiar Start menu that disappeared in Windows 8.

Al Gillen, program VP for servers and system software at IDC, also sees touch as a major catalyst for enterprises to make the move to Windows, albeit if there are certain groups within the organizations who are making use of touch devices, such as a large retailer with floor staff that might use a Windows touch-enabled app. “It’s really about the use case.”

But while Microsoft is encouraging enterprises to begin evaluating, piloting and deploying Windows 10 now, for those with a keyboard and mouse, it’s harder to make the argument for a Windows 10 upgrade, said Gillen. “The typical behaviour for a large enterprise is to go slower.”

No matter what the catalyst might be, said Gillen, it’s still an expensive commitment to move from one operating system to another, and IT departments are going to have to have a solid answer as to why they should upgrade, especially since it’s inevitable that not all applications will be compatible. “A lot of organizations want to take a wait and see approach.”

The fact that Windows 10 can run on existing systems is not likely to spur adoption, said Gillen, as most enterprises generally roll out a new OS as part of a scheduled hardware refresh. And although Windows 10 is a natural move for Windows 7 users, the need for touch capability and modern apps, as well as adequate hardware to support the voice functionality of Cortana, are the factors that will drive customers forward, he said.

Even Microsoft doesn’t Windows 10 uptake picking up steam for at least a couple of quarters, although it will be inevitable as Windows 7 does have an expiry date with mainstream support from Microsoft already gone and extended support slated to end in 2020. “For Windows 7, the writing is already on the wall,” said Gillen.

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Gary Hilson
Gary Hilson
Gary Hilson is a Toronto-based freelance writer who has written thousands of words for print and pixel in publications across North America. His areas of interest and expertise include software, enterprise and networking technology, memory systems, green energy, sustainable transportation, and research and education. His articles have been published by EE Times, SolarEnergy.Net, Network Computing, InformationWeek, Computing Canada, Computer Dealer News, Toronto Business Times and the Ottawa Citizen, among others.

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