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CIOs cautiously embrace Windows 10

Bill Snyder | Feb. 19, 2016
Major OS upgrades are never easy, but according to CIOs and IT executives, the move to Windows 10 is the smoothest Microsoft OS transition in years, even if most of them are taking their time with the deployments.

Windows 10 upgrade a competitive advantage for SAIC

When Department of Defense (DoD) CIO Terry Halvorsen declared that the millions of Windows PCs within the Pentagon and other agency installations around the world had to be upgraded to Windows 10 by the end of 2016, Robert Fecteau knew he faced an important opportunity and a challenge.

Fecteau is the CIO of SAIC, a technology and engineering company that works closely with the DoD and other defense contractors. Because so many of his clients will eventually move to Windows 10, developing expertise with the OS early on was a competitive advantage for the company. "Because we are a federal systems integrator, we need to have experience we can transfer to our customers," he says.  

SAIC and Fecteau are currently in the early stages of upgrading roughly 9,600 computers from Windows 7 to Windows 10. Although some enterprises — including Microsoft — choose to upgrade without wiping hard drives, Fecteau opted for clean installs, a choice that gives his IT staff more control over configuration but also results in more downtime while images are installed on thousands of systems, he says.

Windows 10 auto update challenges, privacy concerns

The Kent School District's IT team wanted to get familiar with Windows 10 as quickly as possible, so it participated in an early adopter program. It was a good learning experience, but working with an OS that constantly receives regular updates and changes regularly is a challenge, according to Leslie Binions, the district's lead technical support manager. The team's experience moving from Windows XP to Windows 7 was somewhat simpler, because the OS was mature when the district deployed it, he says.

Some IT executives, though, are intrigued with the concept of "OS as a service" and embrace the regular updates. "I like the new philosophy," says Matt Cochran, IT manager for Hendrick Motorsports. However, Cochran says he still put some critical devices on a "long-term servicing branch" so IT could update them manually to ensure there aren't any glitches.

Businesses that run the enterprise edition of Windows 10 can also use the system center configuration manager to turn off auto updates and make sure new code is tested before it goes live. "The last thing we'd want is for one of our planning or buying systems to suddenly be incompatible," says Sam Chesterman, worldwide CIO of IPG Media Brands, whose team manages more than 7,000 Windows machines. Chesterman and his staff are currently piloting Windows 10 on between 70 and 100 devices, he says, and the company plans to eventually upgrade all of its machines to the new OS.

While he's generally satisfied with Windows 10 so far, Chesterman say he is concerned about data privacy and wonders if Cortana will eventually run afoul of European privacy regulations or the Safe Harbor agreement that regulates data transferred between Europe and the United States. "If I can't be absolutely sure that data collected in Europe by Cortana won't become a problem, I'll simply disable it," he says.


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