Last year Microsoft pulled the plug on official support for Windows XP. This was meant to drive businesses to Windows 8. In some cases this was a success; in many others it wasn’t. Windows 8 may be the worst received Microsoft Operating System since the Windows Millennium Edition. An interface that was designed for phones and tablets rather than desktops and laptops and the abandoning of a host of traditional features ensured that Windows 8 had a rough start to life.
You Can’t Hold Out Forever
The endless upgrade cycle of operating systems has been annoying businesses for years. Change for change’s sake isn’t a value to add to anyone and the “upgrades” of Windows have been so poor that people naturally resist them. However, a failure to upgrade puts your business at risk. If you’re still running Windows XP in your office and the machine is connected to the Internet; you might as well put a sign on your data saying – “steal me”. With no further patches for the OS and no bug reports, etc. any new security vulnerabilities won’t be fixed and will leave your environment very much at risk.
Windows 7 will be for the support chop soon; which is a shame because though there were early problems with the operating system it turned out to be stable and reasonably well-regarded by users. This shouldn’t be a problem for upgrading because licenses for Windows 7 are no longer commonly sold.
So, the decision becomes a choice between Windows 8.1 (a minor release which fixed some of the biggest problems with Windows 8 but still certainly not without its detractors) and Windows 10.
The Good News
Microsoft has already announced that Windows 10 will be a free upgrade for the first year of its release. That’s right – free. This is going to be true for all desktop and laptop platforms and possibly also for Windows based smartphones (though this is less clear at the moment).
That should make the decision process for upgrading pretty straightforward. Microsoft seems to have recognized that it can no longer bully people into endless upgrades and the free offer feels a reasonable way to try and consolidate the Windows user base onto a single operating system platform.
Are You Ready?
We wouldn’t advise upgrading to Windows 10 on day of launch. You have a year to take up their kind offer of a free upgrade. You probably want to wait and watch the inevitable security flaws on the release product get fixed and for a consensus opinion on the Operating System’s value before you upgrade.
You will also need to talk to your software and hardware vendors. You need to know if there any compatibility issues with Windows 10 and what the implications for fixing them are. Again, a delay in implementing the upgrade until later in that year will enable a more informed strategy for migrating to the new Operating System.
The release date is scheduled for Q2 or Q3 this year (we think almost certainly the latter) but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start examining your options for upgrading early and have a plan for implementation of Windows 10 at your brokerage in place.