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Windows 10: Adapt or die

Gregg Keizer | Oct. 6, 2015
Big rethink in the cards for enterprises because of 'new velocity of change' in Windows

Windows 10 Start menu fig01

Windows 10's accelerated update and upgrade tempo requires enterprises to discard habits that accreted over decades, a painful change but one that can be managed, a Gartner analyst said today.

"There's a new velocity of the rate of change when you move to Windows 10," Steven Kleynhans, a Gartner analyst who tracks the Redmond, Wash. firm, said in an interview. "It's not optional. You have to get on board."

In an interview, Kleynhans, who this week will host a Windows 10 session for CIOs at Gartner's annual Orlando-based symposium, focused on what enterprises must do to deal with Windows 10, Microsoft's newest OS -- in particular, its rapid update and upgrade schedule. With Windows 10, Microsoft will deliver not only the usual security patches and the occasional non-security bug fix -- historically what the company shipped between each major version -- but also new features and functionality, user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) improvements, and enhanced services and apps.

Windows 10 will be updated about every four months -- central to Microsoft's pivot toward its "Windows as a service" strategy -- and although businesses will be on a delayed deployment schedule compared to consumers, they will, with some exceptions, be required to adopt those updates in order to continue receiving all-important security fixes.

Windows 10's update-and-upgrade practice runs counter to the previous 39 years of Microsoft practice: Software was updated and upgraded on a regular -- or not so regular -- cadence, and users chose whether to deploy the new. Between each upgrade, Microsoft usually made only the most meager of changes. The only deadline customers faced was Microsoft's 10 years of security support.

The one-two of constant and forced updates/upgrades will demand major changes in how enterprises test and deploy once they move to Windows 10. (They'll have to at some point, what with the corporate standard Windows 7 exiting support in four years and three months.)

"Most enterprises tend to be a little slow in how they approach change," Kleynhans said in a diplomatically-worded way that disguised the extent of business resistance. "They can't do that on Windows 10."

Traditionally, businesses treated a Windows upgrade -- again, the only instances when functionality morphed and new features appeared -- as a big project with a big budget and a corresponding long timeline.

"That's not the case anymore [with Windows 10]," said Kleynhans. "If you were to handle every [Windows 10] update that way, it would be ridiculous."

Instead, enterprises should craft what Kleynhans called a "production-line model" of dealing with change. Creating a set of tasks that are repeatable and in constant use will be critical, he said. As one update's deployment starts, the next update's evaluation and preliminary testing should already be in motion.


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