Windows 10 and Enterprise Doors, Well!

|July 27, 2015 0
The clock is inching closer to D-1, and by this time your enterprise should have sorted all the answers for Windows 10’s arrival; Or at least, all the questions. Hope you are ready

Pratima H

INDIA: There may be people in scientific community, and elsewhere, who regard mice and squirrels to be from the same tribe. But for people who know what these smart-brained athletes chase, the lines can never blur. One rants ‘who moved my cheese’ and the other species hunts for acorns – period! That’s why they cannot be similar.

Of course, you could be either of these if you are a technology player chasing good breakfast. The moot point is – is that the next day’s breakfast or something to munch when you wake up after six months of a cozy winter sleep?

You could have been running after tiny slivers of cheese every morning or you could be one of those who would rather store their stash (for months altogether) inside a safe ‘maintained’ crevice. The latter is more impressive for a usual year since cheese can turn stale but nuts don’t.

The problem billows up when there are winds like cloud, BYOD, virtualization, As-a-Service-license models and what not that dance around in not-so-usual ways and soon a different colour of snow settles softly upon your warm burrows. You may snore your way past all the winter but when you rub your eyes, the world has changed beyond recognition.

And now, hibernating after working for a long-term food basket is no more an option. Now things have to be taken care of. And seriously enough.

Turning pro-cloud, BYOD-friendly, all-device-compatible, leaning easily towards desktops and tablets alike and breaking long-running license formats while weaning users off version 7 is something that Microsoft is going to do very very seriously – with Windows 10.

The mood this time around is reasonably positive, notwithstanding the extremes on opposite sides that Windows XP, 7, or 8 swung towards. Think of Windows 10 and the mood is also a lot more puzzled. From free upgrades to automatic update bugs (including Nvidia and third-party driver installer issues that have started popping already); from Soft Assurance pack bundling to other modes of security patch-ups; from Pro edition to Home edition, from a ‘how free would be the free upgrade’ to how integrated would this PC-and-mobile aligned single platform would indeed be; around doubts hovering upon Enterprise Data Protection and license-fine-print; and between conventional maintenance to interstitial support; there is a lot that is fuelling an enterprise user’s curiosity.

But three words – Cloud, Mobile and beyond PCs – rule the Windows meme here. No matter how much has been said, chewed or swallowed, there is a lot that people are asking and observing on these angles.

On the Operating Table – The First Look

Think of Windows 10 as the last old-style Windows upgrade. Frank Gillett, a veteran analyst from Forrester labels it crisply as he considers how Microsoft aims to radically ease the challenges of Windows upgrades by making them much less dramatic, more incremental, and more frequent.

“As a result, Windows 10 should eventually displace all the older versions and get customers on the regular update cadence, or at least within three months of the front of the update cadence.”

Gillett had earlier also remarked how the July upgrade is Microsoft’s most crucial bet for mobile and that Microsoft will have to do better on winning mobile developers on all platforms, not just PCs.

Thinking of mobile gives the whole subject a new bi-polar dimension suddenly. Windows 10 does come at a particularly propitious time for Microsoft from what David Lavenda, VP Product Strategy, harmon.ie notices, but he hastens to add that while the promise of the universal Windows operating system for all devices has effectively been abandoned by Microsoft’s recent denigration of its Nokia division, it’s not gone completely.

“Many organizations I speak with are considering moving to a single computing device – a combo PC / tablet. And here is where Microsoft has an enormous market opportunity with Windows 10. While many organizations were recently considering how to integrate iPads into their work environment, the promise of a smooth PC/tablet experience in one device with Windows 10 is changing their perspective….and with it the potential to displace Apple tablets in the workplace.”

No doubt, Microsoft’s attempt at bringing a Pro-as-as-service or ‘cloud era born’ PC-plus OS can bring in a lot of desired change and unwanted shake-up alike, more so with the new licensing regime they plan to hop onto.

Ravindra Rao – COO of Fullerton India assesses a new posture as one of their strategies of capturing the market. “Windows-10 promises to be a great OS one, that in many ways, Windows 8 should have been. But Microsoft with this release is hoping that by making it easier for developers to build for tablets and smart-phones it can take some of its dominance to the desktop world and port this to the mobile as well.”

Feelart courtesy freedigitalophotos

Microsoft has a lot resting on this big bet on a new, all-encompassing platform. The latest quarter figures show that revenue from devices declined 22 per cent and that was probably due to slow PC market following the XP end-of-support. So when CEO Satya Nadella is heard saying that Windows 10 will broaden their economic opportunity and return Windows to growth, it makes the jump obvious. After all, Microsoft saw a strong demand for Office 365 and Dynamics products and on the parallel, it enjoyed commercial cloud revenue rising almost 88 per cent thanks to Office 365, Azure and Dynamics CRM Online hitting an annualized revenue run rate of over $8 billion and tripled revenue from Azure Premium Services this quarter. Ignoring Cloud and Mobile as well as other non-PC devices, hence, was just not an option. Windows 10 can definitely accelerate Microsoft’s run in this new direction it has picked up clearly and fiercely.

Ask Girish Gupta, Director, Technical Services, Citrix Systems and his first glance and anticipation on Windows 10 is captured in three words – Makes a difference.

Microsoft is heading in the right direction, he feels strongly, specially as at the end of the day real estate matters and cloud has changed the way things were in the last decade and considerably enough. “Windows 10 is a great concept on unified access and iterates that Microsoft is going in the right direction.”

Beyond First impressions

It seems that some 96 per cent IT professionals have shown considerable interest in Windows 10, and about 60 per cent had stated evaluation happening on a preview version. A survey by Spiceworks (that covered over 500 IT professionals recently) also pointed that almost all (96 per cent) respondents expressed at least some interest in Windows 10. As to the reasons that push them on using a new OS, 69 per cent attributed it to an as-needed basis (like end of support situations).

A few months back Madhavan Kandadai CTO, IndusInd Bank Ltd. was understandably cautious about the new sibling arriving. “The new offering could be a headache and just another money spinner for MS and its partners. They had just settled down with Win 7, pushed everyone to migrate from XP to Win7 after creating a lot of brouhaha about security etc. This spawned a huge business for the partners who made lots of money to migrate to Win 7. At least it was stable. Hardly has this din settled down after Windows 8 and 8.1 than they come up with Win 10.” He had poignantly moved the torch in the rights spot.

Today enterprises, CIOs and CEOs are as hopeful as they are overwhelmed with the torrent of supposed changes that opening new windows might pour in.

Ravindra Rao, COO of Fullerton India, measures his excitement about Windows 10 and tells that like any new item on the technology space, there is a certain degree of anticipation which brews in before arrival. “Windows-10 is an operating system which is expected to bridge the gap between traditional PCs and touch based tablets. The new release is a single operating system that shape-shifts according to the device it is running on – be it a PC, tablet or phone. From what I saw, there are several new features and design elements that drives the overall look and feel. From my understanding, Microsoft is introducing set of technologies that would enable 3-D imaging and hologram projection for Windows 1 applications. The pre-installed office apps in tablets would be useful for organizations like Fullerton India, who are aggressively pursuing the digital space especially where we can toggle between applications that can be hosted on Internet Explorer – 11 and Spartan.

He pauses to ponder at the tendency of enterprises to skip one version of Windows and buy the next one and this is where Windows-10 after the free upgrade period proposes to cash on. “Every year, the device markets are changing and this would work to Microsoft’s advantage. The growth of tablets has not changed the PC market and this is where Windows-10 can also capitalize given the individual usage.”

Gupta is visibly buoyant about the new platform. Cloud is here and so is a world beyond PCs so if they don’t do it now, it would be too late, he reasons. “Now that it has become a platform and not just another OS, it allows for seamless apps across end points and that makes him excited on Citrix’s angle as well. We are a robust platform for delivering apps and the new OS would make things less cumbersome and smooth spanning various end points.”

Incidentally, this launch aligns happily with VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) trends. Gupta asserts that desktops are not the primary mode of usage anymore and as devices turn hotter mediums we will see the shift towards a platform approach in stronger ways. “Today it is not just about desktops but applications. Customers that choose to go any route through cloud, hybrid modes or other ways can do so easily with Citrix.”

Citrix has reckoned that many organizations will also take the Windows migration event as an opportunity to further their cloud adoption strategies. They will start outsourcing desktop and device management to service providers or will start moving their own apps and desktops to cloud infrastructure.

But there is another school of thought Rao brings to the table here. There are people who have perceived Windows-7 to be the best product (given its stability and popularity) and may just refuse to migrate, he drills the point down.” Enterprises would not like their cash flows to be locked in licenses and maintenance cycles but may want to get into subscription models.

Till the dust settles

This is effectively Microsoft’s chance to regain the ‘desktop’ of the Digital Workplace, Lavenda augurs. So, while there has been a lot of focus on Microsoft’s move to the cloud, Windows 10 offers a real way for Windows to remain vital to organizations for the foreseeable future. “In essence, Windows 10 is MS’s chance to remain essential to users during the phase when they move to the cloud, where services can be retrieved by iOS and Android mobile apps…without the need for Windows…and until Office 365 will pick up the slack in OS revenue as the OS becomes less important over time.”

Courtesy Marcolm at freedigitalphotos

Will India show a friendly body-language or not, is something that would have to be waited for. As to Gupta, at least on a general adoption sense about Cloud, things are rosy enough. For Citrix, as he cites aptly, the biggest dependence surfaces in form of good networks and infrastructure, or their lack thereof with flaky networks, when it comes to virtualization taking off in full steam. Breaking that barrier will bring in a new stability for any enterprise wishing to tap new trends and leverage forces like virtualization.

Lavenda is certain that while the jury is still out on whether Windows 10 will be more like Windows 7 than Vista, there is certainly something in Windows 10 (besides the reinstatement of the ‘Start’ button) that CIOs should explore.

Meanwhile, Gillett from Forrester advises CIOs to ask their security officers to focus on the improved security and authentication features in Windows 10. “These have potential to dramatically improve usability and increase the difficulty for attackers.”

“I am sure every CIO/COO is looking to take this as it comes by. Like I said before there needs to be a compelling reason for people and enterprises to move into the new OS. There is an added feature wherein corporate apps, data, email, web content and other sensitive information will be automatically encrypted by Windows-10 both on desktops and mobile devices.” Rao wraps it sharply.

There needs to be a strong reason for enterprises to move towards Windows-10 and they should not perceive this as another free upgrade or migration as can be heard loudly from these industry stakeholders.

It all depends now on what Microsoft brings around this time. Would it be cheese or acorns?

The door’s ajar.

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