Microsoft's latest operating system has proved itself say tech chiefs who will start their upgrade projects this year.
While Windows 10 went on sale in summer last year, businesses tend to take a wait-and-see approach to new operating systems largely because of the upheaval and cost such upgrades can cause.
A further complication - businesses also have to wait for their other software vendors to get their software ready to work with new operating systems. As a result it is not uncommon for business customers to be years behind home users in adopting new software.
However, this time around it seems that businesses are moving faster than in the past. Analyst Gartner has predicted that half of all organisations will have commenced their Windows 10 rollout by January next year, which means it could be the most widely installed version of Windows ever - ahead of even Windows 7.
And when asked "Do you think businesses should start large scale Windows 10 deployments this year?" TechRepublic's panel of tech decision makers responded yes by a margin of 11 to one, suggesting that 2016 is likely to be the year that enterprise Windows 10 deployments really get going.
"Yes, I believe that CIOs will begin to upgrade to Windows 10 this year if their software vendors support it," said Matt Mielke, director of IT at Innovations Federal Credit Union.
As John Gracyalny, VP of IT at SafeAmerica Credit Union, said: "We have board approval for workstation memory upgrades and for moving to Windows 10 and Office 2016 this year. But it's not so much a result of what Microsoft has done as it is that our various technology vendors now support it."
Dirk De Busser, IT manager at Fashion Club 70, has been rolling out Windows 10 Enterprise since October last year on new computers.
"Later this year we're planning to upgrade all computers to Windows 10. We're an Office 365 customer: the combination of Office 2016 and Windows 10 is the way to go for us. Windows 10 has great features to use with Office 365 or other cloud based services. Just one example: Windows 10 can sign in to Azure Active Directory. That's a great benefit," he said.
But he added that one big question that only the future will answer is that as Microsoft increasing moves to a cloud model: how well the 'Windows as a service'-model will perform?
"We like the idea of getting new builds, features and updates all the time. We don't like the idea when something might go wrong with this process," he said.
Chuck Elliott, CIO at Concord University, said the university is still testing for compatibility with software products used in both administrative and academic computing.
"Windows 10 appears ready and we are planning for more testing in the spring, some controlled and limited introductions for summer, and a larger rollout in the fall," he said. He added that one concern is Microsoft's plan to withdraw support for machines based on Intel Skylake processors that run Windows 7 and 8.1 after July 17, 2017 and said "we want to make that a non-issue".
Some CIOs noted that Windows 10 is attractive because its easier for users to adjust to than the poorly-received Windows 8. "Since Windows 8.1 we can change between both GUI, and the start button is back again," said Juergen Renfer, CIO at Kommunale Unfallversicherung Bayern.
Kevin Leypoldt, IS director at Structural Integrity Associates, said while this year might not see companies start large scale deployments, Windows 10 has proven itself to have a place in the workplace and plans should be made to migrate.
He said that one big driver that will get the attention of CIOs is that this October PC manufacturers will be forced to stop shipping machines with Windows 7 pre-installed.
"When the OEMs can't supply it to us anymore [that] should be the catalyst to jump ship (to Windows 10). So 2017 may be the year that many businesses make the move," he said.
But he said with Windows 7, Microsoft is likely to have the same problem as it had with Windows XP — that some organisations are reluctant to move on — and "it will take the end of extended support in 2020 to drive them to Windows 10".
However the upgrades is unlikely to be without a few teething troubles: Lance Taylor-Warren, CIO at HAWC Community Health Centers said: "While we have rolled out about 10 percent of our workstations with Windows 10, we have run into issues with the issue of drivers from some of our vendors not being compatible with Windows 10 yet, so it prevents us from making the large scale push. Performance of Windows 10 on some of our older hardware is also proving to be a bit of a challenge."
And more broadly, the idea of a big-bang approach to operating systems upgrade is increasingly old fashioned for many CIOs, especially as much software is run in a browser rather than locally on the PC.
Anyone who has already migrated to the cloud or Office 365, and who is using Windows 7 or 8, will have less pressure to upgrade to Windows 10, said Florentin Albu, CIO at Rothamsted Research.
"The desktop OS continues to lose its relevance, and this makes it more tricky to justify projects of this nature. Usability and the new generation workforce are significant factors to consider, however these alone won't be a driver. A company's desktop hardware upgrade cycle should offer a good opportunity to deploy Windows 10," he said.
This month's CIO Jury was:
- Richard Storey, head of IT, Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust
- Jerry Justice, IT director, SS&G Financial Services
- Shawn Beighle, CIO, International Republican Institute
- John Gracyalny, VP of IT, SafeAmerica Credit Union
- Juergen Renfer, CIO, Kommunale Unfallversicherung Bayern
- Florentin Albu, CIO Rothamsted Research.
- Kevin Leypoldt, IS director, Structural Integrity Associates
- Mike Klaus, Information Systems Manager at City of Kearney
- Matt Mielke, director of IT at Innovations Federal Credit Union
- Dan Gallivan, director of IT at Payate
- Chuck Elliott, CIO at Concord University
- Lance Taylor-Warren, CIO at HAWC Community Health Centers
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