Windows 10, Trigger’s broom and as-a-service delivery

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31 July 2015

Paul HearnsWindows 10 is here and there has been much rejoicing.

The new operating system (OS) has been widely received as ‘a good thing’, much in the way that its predecessor Windows 7 was in the wake of the Windows Vista mis-step.

However, much in the way that Vista became the sacrificial lamb for the progress that was 7, Windows 8 and 8.1 have been John the Baptist-like in preparing the ground for the new foundation that is Windows 10.

Windows 10 has been hailed as the last great release of Windows, as this last bastion of major releases and service packs is now moving to the as-a-service model which will render the question windows versions irrelevant, as uttered by Terry Myerson, executive vice president of the Windows and Devices Group (WDG), back January.

SCD mode
That sounds great, as many of us have already become accustomed to the model through our use of smart connected devices (SCD) from smart phones to phablets and tablets, where OS and the apps get updated regularly, some major, some minor.

“Windows 10 has been designed to allow for major components to be updated discretely, to allow for these incremental updates without necessarily having the knock-on effects that may have been seen in the past”

But given the experiences in the past with patches that have caused as many problems as they solve, such as looping update cycles in March and more problems in May, there have been a few reservations too. However, it has been pointed out the architecture of Windows 10 has been designed to allow for major components to be updated discretely, to allow for these incremental updates without necessarily having the knock-on effects that may have been seen in the past. This means that after a few update cycles, Windows 10 as a designation will apply less and less, as Myerson points out it will be “just Windows”. A bit like Trigger’s broom, which in its 20 year service life has only needed five new heads and three new handles.

Again, this sounds great, but for those that cannot go on a fast update path there are two major alternatives. As we covered previously, there is an update programme called Long Term Servicing (LTS) that will receive only security and critical fixes over the entire 10 year support period. This is for those enterprises that simply cannot go without stringent levels of validation to meet compatibility and compliance obligations.

Then there is the Current branch for Business (CBB), which will broadly keep pace with consumer Windows, receiving a steady mix of security updates and new features, however, critically, administrators will have the power to hold back feature updates to facilitate testing and validation, without interrupting the deployment of security fixes.

Again, all of this sounds great, as if Microsoft is covering all the bases to get the world and its dog to move to the new platform and the new service model, as seamlessly as possible.

Licence issues
But there have been criticisms. In February, there were warnings about lack of clarity in the businesses areas, around volume licensing, software assurance programmes and more, with law firms warning that definitions were far from clear, terms and conditions needed to be clarified and what one group might think of as an as-a-service model might not be what others perceive.

Now Microsoft has done some work in the meantime to address those fears and it has been pointed out that most companies with current Software Assurance agreements will be able to upgrade anyway.

But despite all of this, analysts have come out and said that the free upgrade offer is unlikely to compel businesses to move en masse, and it will likely be 2017 before major migrations really get underway.

Al Gillen, programme vice president, Servers and System Software, IDC, said it is likely to be two or three years before major migrations are commonplace and that it is most likely going to be business as usual in terms of enterprise migration. Forrester, seems to agree too.

If that is the case, Windows 10 will likely be three years old before it sees widespread enterprise deployment. Given the as-a-service model, are businesses missing the point and potentially losing out on potential benefits as a result?

Domestic environment
Most businesses, especially in Ireland, are still coming out of recession operations. They have squeezed hardware, applications and more as hard as they will go and now need to move on to facilitate growth in a market that is picking up.

Many have had mobility and cloud services introduced by stealth and are struggling with exactly how to implement the bombardment of big data and analytics possibilities they see every day in media and vendor communications.

Windows 10, with its universal platform across mobile, tablet and desktop could ease a significant proportion of those issues, because as Microsoft has been emphasising, there is huge continuity and familiarity on the management side for Windows 10 that now extends further across the format and device fleet than ever before. There are also many security benefits with features, such as Windows Hello and Device Guard, that mean security fears are also addressed.

Slow hand
In the past, there has generally been a benefit to holding back from early adoption in seeing teething experiences of others. With the new model for Windows 10, and the way it has been designed, such problems may still exist, but they are likely to be of far less impact than the teething bugs of the past.

While I’m not advocating everyone jump on the 10 bandwagon with abandon, there is clearly an argument to look at adoption on an accelerated pace, at least when compared to past migrations, due to the potential benefits in the areas of several of IT’s current macro trends.



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