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Enterprises will snub Microsoft's faster release tempo by sticking with Windows 7

Gregg Keizer | Oct. 16, 2013
Ballmer doesn't get it, says Gartner analyst: Businesses don't want to deal with annual Windows updates

The 24-month window for deploying Windows 8.1 stems from Microsoft's decision to mimic the support policy it's long had in place for operating system "service packs," collections of patches and fixes it has used in the past to refresh an OS.

"Windows 8 customers will have two years to move to Windows 8.1 after the General Availability of the Windows 8.1 update to continue to remain supported under Windows 8 lifecycle," a Microsoft marketing manager confirmed in late July.

That kind of cadence would overwhelm most businesses, Silver said.

"The faster pace is absolutely the biggest pain point," said Silver of enterprises' issues with the Microsoft change. "The problem with faster release cycles is that [enterprises] don't know if their apps will work with each new version of Windows and IE."

On average, corporations have one app for every 10 to 20 users, said Silver, citing Gartner data. In cases of large enterprises, the tally of in-house, line-of-business (LOB) apps runs into the hundreds. Ensuring that those apps work with each new release of Windows, and more importantly, with the new Internet Explorer browser Microsoft packages with each update, will be costly and time-consuming, making that 24-month cycle all but impossible to handle.

Microsoft doesn't see it that way.

In an interview at the Gartner conference, outgoing CEO Steve Ballmer dismissed most of the concerns over the faster pace. When Gartner analyst David Cearley noted, "Enterprises are concerned about that accelerated delivery cycle," Ballmer shook his head.

"Let me push back," said Ballmer, "and say, 'Not really.' If our customers have to take DVDs from us, install them, and do customer-premise software, you're saying to us 'Don't upgrade that software very often ... two to three years is perfect.

"But if we deliver something to you that's a service, as we do with Office 365, our customers are telling us, 'We want to be up to date at all times,'" Ballmer claimed.

Silver scoffed at Ballmer's description, and his dismissal of enterprise issues with Windows' upbeat tempo. "He's saying as long as we put all the bits [online], it's not the problem that people have," said Silver. "For the most part, he said, 'We don't see this as a problem.' "

That ignores the real world, Silver countered, where Windows is not a service along the lines of Office 365 even though it's no longer delivered on DVDs. "Organizations need to be afraid of what's to come," Silver said. "If [companies] get on this release train, Microsoft will take them where [Microsoft] wants to go, or [Microsoft] will run them over."


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