IT service providers have made a lot of money over the years helping customers migrate to new versions of the Windows operating system, so it’s understandable if many IT service providers are getting excited about the pending arrival of Windows 10 in 2015.
But the one thing they might not appreciate is the degree to which Microsoft is going to actually automate the Windows 10 migration process. During the launch of a technical preview of Windows 10, formally referred to as Windows 9, Microsoft made it clear that in the future the Windows upgrade process is going to be much more akin to how operating systems are upgraded on smartphones and tablets.
Previously, organizations had to manually back up and reinstall data and applications, as well as reconfigure settings. While doing that for one machine is not particularly taxing, many IT service providers have made a handsome profit managing that task on behalf of customers that have hundreds, sometimes even thousands of machines. If the Windows 10 migration process becomes highly automated, much of that work may not be there after organizations upgrade Windows.
In general, Windows 10 is designed to appeal to enterprise IT organizations that generally prefer Windows 7 or Windows 8. The market research firm International Data Corp. (IDC) says that as of the end of 2013 there were nearly 715 million copies of Windows installed in businesses worldwide. At 361.2 million, more than half of them are running Windows 7. Another 224 million were running Windows XP, and almost 40 million were Windows Vista versus 16 million for Windows 8.
While much fuss has been made over the inclusion of the starter menu in Windows 10 versus Windows 8, the two most compelling attribute of Windows 10 would appear to be a more seamless experience when moving between traditional and touch-enabled applications and the ability to more easily deploy applications using new run-time facilities that automatically recognize the attributes of the smartphone, tablet or PC the application is being deployed on. Given those capabilities it’s expected that Microsoft will adopt a much faster cadence in terms of subsequent rollouts of updates to the Windows 10 operating system environment.
The good news is that Microsoft is promising that Windows 10 migration will be compatible with all the traditional management systems used today. In addition, Microsoft is promising that it will be much easier to separate corporate and personal data across all devices.
With the release of a Windows 10 technical preview there is a danger that Microsoft for the next year has frozen Windows 7 customers in place and all but orphaned Windows 8 in corporate environments.
There are, of course, still millions of instances of Windows 7 and Windows XP out there that don’t appear to be going away any time soon, so there will be plenty of IT service opportunities for IT services firms for years to come. But for IT services firms that have profited from the complexity of Windows, starting next year those days might soon be coming to an end.