Windows 10 is being adopted by business at nearly twice the rate of Windows 8

Microsoft's latest OS is proving more attractive to firms than Windows 8 - particularly among larger businesses.

Businesses are proving far more willing to experiment with Windows 10 than they were with Windows 8.

Six months after Windows 10's launch nearly one in five firms, 18 percent, appear to be testing the OS, research by professional IT network Spiceworks found. In contrast, at the same point after Windows 8's release, the OS was only being trialled by just over nine percent of businesses.

The anonymised data on what proportion of firms are using at least one Windows 10 machine was gathered by Spiceworks from the millions of IT pros that use its software. Spiceworks says businesses of all sizes use the software to inventory devices connected to their networks.

This faster pace of enterprise adoption is backed up by figures from IT asset management company Samanage, which told ZDNet that 62.4 percent of its enterprise customers have at least one managed PC running Windows 10. These are sizeable businesses, with each of Samanage's enterprise customers having an average of more than 1,000 seats. Microsoft also claims that 76 percent of its enterprise customers are piloting its new OS.

Image: Spiceworks

"Our data shows that IT pros were most excited about the return of the familiar start button experience in Windows 10, which reduces the need for end-user training required for Windows 8," said Peter Tsai, IT analyst at Spiceworks in his assessment of why the new OS is proving more popular than Windows 8.

"Many IT pros also liked the free upgrade offer via Windows Update, which makes it easy for many to test the new OS. And lastly, they were looking forward to new security features that promise to make Windows 10 a more secure operating system than previous versions."

Windows 10 is benefiting from a comparison to an unpopular OS, demand for Windows 8 was so weak that analyst firm Canalys warned in 2014 that "Microsoft risks losing momentum unless it does something drastic to turn its Windows business around".

And while a significant proportion of businesses may be experimenting with Windows 10, it is likely to be some time before a large number move to the OS, as business typically lag behind consumers due to the complexity of managing such upgrades at scale. Of those firms testing Windows 10, about 40 percent have three or more devices running the OS, according to Spiceworks' data.

Medium and large businesses were the most likely to have at least one Windows 10 machine Spiceworks found - with 31 percent of firms with more than 500 people trialling the OS, compared to 10 percent of companies with 50 employees or fewer.

Image: Spiceworks

"We also know from many conversations with IT pros that smaller companies tend to have fewer resources for OS migration, so many SMBs could be holding off on Windows 10 until they have the time and manpower to adequately test the OS for hardware and application compatibility," said Tsai.

Last year, half of the 500 IT pros surveyed by Spiceworks expressed an interest in adopting Windows 10 inside their business.

Microsoft's decision to phase out support for Windows 7 and 8 on new PC hardware will also put pressure on 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.

Microsoft is also reporting rapid adoption of Windows 10 by home users, with more than 200 million devices worldwide running the OS.

The popularity of the OS may, in part, be a result of Microsoft's tactics to get consumers to upgrade. This aggressive approach includes recently implementing changes that will trigger the free upgrade to Windows 10 to begin automatically installing on many Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 PCs used in homes. Microsoft is making this push as part of its drive to get one billion devices running Windows 10 by 2018.

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