Microsoft has taken another decision that should make it easier for businesses to continue running Windows 7.
The technology giant yesterday announced the release of the Windows 7 SP1 convenience rollup, a collection of security and other updates for the seven-year-old operating system. The release includes core Windows fixes, security fixes and hot fixes that have been issued since Service Pack 1 was released in 2011 and is designed to simplify the updating process.
Microsoft's decision to release the bundle is a departure from the firm's stance earlier this year, when it said it had no news on the promised convenience rollup of fixes for Windows 7, stressing instead "the success our customers are experiencing upgrading to Windows 10".
The release follows another recent choice by Microsoft to dial back pressure on businesses to move to Windows 10. At the beginning of the year, Microsoft announced it would phase out support for Windows 7 and 8 on new PC hardware. The move seemed designed to encourage businesses not to downgrade new Windows 10 machines to an earlier OS, as has been common in the past in order to standardize corporate hardware. However, Microsoft later watered down the plans, pushing back the point at which it will end full extended support for Windows 7 and 8.1 machines running on Intel's Skylake CPUs.
Richard Edwards, principal analyst for Enterprise ICT at Ovum, said Microsoft's recent decisions are an acknowledgement of how many businesses still run Windows 7 and how long it will likely take them to switch.
"Most organizations are still in the early planning stage when it comes to Windows 10. This means that most of the PCs running Windows 10 today are in the consumer segment of the market, and thus Windows 7 is probably running on 80 percent-plus business Windows PCs," he said.
Inside enterprises, Windows 7 is "going to be around for many years to come," he said. "Microsoft has to find ways to please and delight these enterprise customers, and easing the burden on IT departments is one way to do this."
While Edwards believes the release of the Anniversary Edition update to Windows 10 will drive upgrades by early adopters, he predicted that mass adoption is still some way off, forecasting that the bulk of firms will migrate from mid-2017 through to 2020.
"Organizations will only upgrade to Windows 10 if they have a clear insight into its business value," said Edwards, adding that key business features such as Enterprise Data Protection were still not in place.
Microsoft's focus on driving customers to Windows 10 has earned it criticism from small businesses, which recently complained about the decision to push the aggressive Get Windows icons and pop-ups to domain-joined PCs.
Analyst house Gartner had predicted that adoption of Windows 10 by business would be "significantly more rapid" than that of Windows 7 but this year was more cautious, claiming that flat IT budgets are pushing the start of enterprise migrations back to 2017.
"It's to do with current budget restrictions as much as anything. They [budgets] are not being made available," said Gartner research director Ranjit Antwal at the time.
There is little third-party data on the rate of adoption of Windows 10 by business, although Microsoft claims enterprises are switching more rapidly than they did to Windows 7.
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Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic. He writes about the technology that IT decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.