The July 29 release of Windows 10 delivers a multitude of changes, including the return of the Start menu, a revamped web browser (Edge) and a voice-controlled virtual assistant for your PC (Cortana). However, the change that’s getting much of the attention is the rollout of Microsoft’s new approach to delivering operating system updates and upgrades.
Starting with Windows 10, Microsoft will transition from providing version-to-version operating system upgrades to delivering them in a continual, cloud-based stream. Major and minor changes to critical elements of business software will now take place much more frequently—which, without preparation, could disrupt business and affect end-user productivity. (Think of them as “mini-migrations” for which your IT staff had little time to prepare for, and no backup staff at the ready.)
While this new approach should eventually eliminate the large-scale disruption that accompanies most big-bang migrations, it will also create a new challenge for business leaders—keeping end-users up to date with new and changed functionality, which is becoming more important than ever. To be successful, business leaders and IT departments need to change how they approach end-user adoption and productivity.
In an effort to ease this transition for businesses, Microsoft has created a variety of update management options that allow organizations to choose which updates to deploy to which devices on what schedule. (For a detailed overview, read the Windows blog.) Of particular note is the Long-Term Servicing branches (LTSB) option, which is similar to the current approach—it installs security patches and critical bug fixes, but no feature changes.
Before organizations make a firm decision about Windows 10—which update management option to choose, whether they should simply wait to migrate—CIO.com’s Paul Rubens suggests consideration of the following:
- Microsoft will end extended support for Windows 7 in 2020—that’s just over four years away. Rubens notes that although it may seem like a lot, many organizations had a similar amount of time to migrate from XP to 7 and still ran short.
- With features like Device Guard, Windows Hello and Secure Boot, Rubens says that Windows 10 is “almost certainly” more secure than Windows 7.
- A move to Windows 10 will probably be the last big migration for organizations. Writes Rubens: “That’s because the trend is toward frequent small updates and enhancements rather than huge upgrades—in the same way that Microsoft’s Office 365 product is updated many times per month.” (Read Rubens’ entire list on CIO.com.)
Even if companies choose the least frequent and least disruptive (in theory) update option, they cannot avoid the inevitable. Computing capabilities are advancing rapidly, and companies must prepare for a higher and more frequent demand for support.