That includes organizations like Adventist Health, which has 80,000 employees in 46 hospitals in 10 states. Adventist upgraded a quarter of its 55,000 Windows 7 devices to Windows 10 last year and expects to migrate the rest by the end of 2017. “Their driver for moving [to Windows 10] is security, and they also have some mobile use cases. Historically they’ve not moved very quickly, because of concerns around app compatibility. Across their different departments, they have hundreds and hundreds of very specialized medical apps they use. Moving from Windows 7 to 10, they haven’t run into any application compatibility issues, despite the fact that they thought they would, and so they’ve been able to accelerate their adoption," Dewar says.
Mars is another large customer whose migration to Windows 10 went faster than expected. “They originally planned to roll out to about 5,000 employees in the first year,” says Dewar. “They’d factored in the time they thought they’d need for app compatibility and other things but that turned out to be unnecessary. They got 12,000 people deployed in the time they’d planned for 5,000, and they’ll be finishing all 80,000 staff by the end of this year.”
This accelerated adoption is possible partly because all the remediation organizations had to do to upgrade to Windows 7 smoothed the way for Windows 10, but Microsoft has also worked on the tools IT departments need to manage deployment. “In the first year, if we saw any blockers coming up, we took them off the table. With the first update, some customers using third party disk encryption couldn’t do an in-place upgrade because our setup code couldn’t read the disk.”
Creators Update can also automatically enable UEFI capabilities on PCs that have the right hardware but were using legacy BIOS for Windows 7. “If you want some of the advanced capabilities in Windows 10, like Device Guard, things enterprises really want for security, you need to be running the UEFI BIOS,” explains Dewar. “That previously required someone to touch the machine manually, so this accelerates deployments even more. Instead of spending 30 minutes physically with the machine to enable UEFI, you can do it remotely with a scripted, automated process.”
Enterprises also benefit from the consumers who took the free Windows 10 upgrade, he Dewar adds. “An interesting side effect of the fact that we offered the free upgrade and, essentially, we were the IT department for 400 million people, is that in-place upgrade and app compatibility are rock solid, because otherwise you can imagine how many support calls that would have been.”
That information powers the Windows Analytics cloud service that enterprises can use to plan upgrades. “It brings in the data from all the upgrades we’ve done, all the apps and drivers and hardware, and combines that with information about the software and hardware in their PC environment.”
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.