Windows 10, Microsoft’s last numbered operating system, is less than 12 hours away. For qualified Windows 7 and 8 users who have reserved their free copy, the software may already be downloading, yet Microsoft has yet to convince the other major segment of its market – business – to make the switch.
We spoke with Michael Murphy, vice president and Canada country manager at Citrix Systems about key considerations for enterprise and IT providers when it comes to a Windows 10 upgrade.
Personal users will upgrade first
Businesses have generally lagged behind consumers in updating technology, and that won’t change with Windows 10. According to Murphy, this may not be a bad thing however. Rather than forcing an update that may be jarring to users, those who try out the product on their own (like Murphy) could grow accustomed to it and may prefer it over older interfaces.
It’s not all or nothing
One of the biggest considerations for a business is that their various applications, some of which are mission critical, may not be compatible with the new operating system. But according to Murphy, at least for businesses, it’s not all or nothing.
Companies like Citrix, which offer virtualization, are able to create “intermediate” environments that host legacy apps, whether they be designed for Windows 8 or XP. These apps can be reskinned to look like they belong on a newer operating system like Windows 10 and streamed to users over an internet browser.
Solutions like Citrix’ App DNA also allows IT to scan and analyse apps for compatibility issues ahead of time.
These tools allow both legacy apps to be used indefinitely while the client company benefits from improved security and functionality of the new operating system, but also gives IT time to either test legacy apps or look for alternatives.
Companies will need to migrate sooner or later
With the end of Windows XP support last year, many businesses no doubt skipped Windows Vista to update to Windows 7. The operating system’s second last iteration currently sits at 61 per cent market share, way ahead of its closest competitor, Windows 8.1, at 13 per cent.
Windows 7 is also second on the chopping block however. After Vista, whose extended support ends in 2017, Windows 7 will bid farewell in 2020. With Microsoft’s somewhat convoluted enterprise license models, businesses should start thinking now about timing a license expiry and possibly netting a free upgrade.
According to Murphy, companies will have to rationalize their apps within two to three years, however, he recognizes that migration is “not for the faint of heart.”
Let’s not forget that Windows 10 comes with a host of new enterprise features. Check out our favourites here.
Is Microsoft moving away from the OS business?
Contrary to speculation by some, Murphy does not think that the free upgrade to Windows 10 is a sort of gateway vehicle allowing Microsoft to goad people into paying for a subscription-based successor operating system (rumoured to simply be called “Windows”). Instead, he thinks the software giant is shifting its focus.
“Microsoft is Bullish on Windows 10 but it’s less about the operating system and more about the apps and data,” Murphy said. “Apple was never in the OS business, but in the device and app business. Microsoft is less interested now in selling Windows and more in the Office Suite and other apps.”