Windows 10 – When Should Your Business Upgrade?
Thinking about upgrading your computers but not sure when to pull the trigger? Here are some things to consider.
It’s pretty typical for businesses to wait when it comes to upgrading their software and operating systems to the latest release. That’s because, usually, the need to “play” with the latest bells and whistles doesn’t outweigh the real business needs to operate. In fact, for these reasons, most businesses have never adopted Windows 8 (which arrived over 3 years ago in August 2012) in their environments. In fact, our own policy here at TechWorks, as trusted I.T. consultants / advisors to many small businesses has been to hold off on any operating system upgrades at least until the first major patches have been released. In the case of Windows 8, there simply has never been any overwhelming reasons to make the switch to the already stable and productive Windows 7 operating system. However, Windows 10 is looking to be far more business-focused and warrants our consideration.
So what reasons might a business consider upgrading to Windows 10?
Our Beloved “Start” Button is Back!
Yes. Back by popular demand… Microsoft has realized the error of their ways in Windows 8 and has returned the Windows Start button to the operating system in Windows 10. While Microsoft will continue to promote the “tile-based” navigation introduced in Windows 8, our desktops will maintain the familiar navigation methods of Windows 7.
Improved Security & BitLocker Drive Encryption
Since Windows 8.1, Microsoft has built in functionality that will allow you to setup automatic encryption of the files you are storing on your computer’s hard drive. File encryption will prevent someone from installing your hard drive into another computer and reading the files. This works great for securing data in the hands of mobile workers and for data stored on USB flash storage devices. Of course, don’t forget your password. Without your password, a special “recovery key” (created at the time your drive was originally encrypted) will be necessary to access your data. This is some serious security. If you forget your password and lose the recovery key, you’re stuck… and your data will be lost forever. Windows 10, which will likely become the first widely implemented business Windows operating system, continues in supporting drive encryption as a standard security measure.
While your software vendor will have to create their application specifically to take advantage of this, Microsoft’s Windows Store can be used to distribute software applications that can “run anywhere”. In the near future, by accessing the Windows Store, you will be able to license, download and install the software used within your company across multiple devices, including your desktop PC, smartphone, tablet, and other “embedded systems” devices. Of course, the software vendors you work with will need to provide the right versions and make their products available on the Windows Store for this to truly be considered a benefit within your own business.
Simple & Secure Sign-On
Microsoft’s Active Directory has long been used in business environments to ensure that multiple network resources are administered centrally and uniformly. With the release of Windows 10, support for Azure Active Directory extends this uniformity and centralization to the cloud. By utilizing enterprise features of Windows 10 alongside Azure Services, cloud services, such as Microsoft Office 365 (included as a standard feature for all TechWorks’ managed services customers), can authenticate a user based upon his/her local network’s Active Directory account. Ultimately, this simplifies your use of the applications you depend upon in running and managing your business.
Mobile Device Management
With the growing popularity of mobile devices, businesses are increasingly faced with the challenge of limiting and controlling access to critical company data and applications while providing such access across multiple mobile platforms and devices. For example, providing access to company email (including files and attachments) on employee personal smartphones, tablets, and laptops can prove to be an administrative nightmare. Windows 10 now allows enrollment of personal devices into an MDM (mobile device management) service to ease their management and administration. Through the use of Enterprise Data Protection and Device Guard, Windows 10 also lets you separate personal and corporate data, which can be quite useful in a business environment.
Just like your smartphone – Notification Center
Microsoft is referring to it as the Action Center, but in essence, it’s the notification center we’ve come to rely upon on our mobile phones. It alerts you and stores away messages and notifications… be they Facebook, Twitter, software-related, or email.
Why might you choose not to upgrade to Windows 10?
With Windows 10, Microsoft has introduced many new features and user experience enhancements. While it may make sense that Microsoft needs access to all kinds of data to make sure they provide you with the best products and user experience, sometimes the constant digging into our personal data can seem a bit intrusive. For example, even though Microsoft’s new personal assistant, “Cortana”, is able to help schedule your affairs, read aloud your email, and recommend restaurants you may enjoy, it cannot do so without having access to all your personal appointments, emails, and restaurant reviews. Of course, you may have already been providing this information to Google or Apple through your smartphone, so, technically, Microsoft is just a late-comer to the sacrifice-your-privacy bandwagon.
Forced Windows Patches & Updates
If you’re already a TechWorks Managed Services customer, you have likely come to appreciate the value TechWorks brings to your business in delaying and testing the updates Microsoft is pushing out to your business desktops. The first three update releases for Windows 10 had problems with reboot cycles. That means that after these updates were applied, the operating system either (1) had to “undo” the changes made by the updates, or (2) a business desktop stopped working and wasn’t available until an I.T. technician was able to manually “undo” the changes. In either event, the patch resulted in wasted time and productivity. Of course, a carefully applied Windows registry setting can prevent the default automatic application of updates behavior of Windows 10.
Huh!? …Gotta love it.
It Ain’t broke… so don’t fix it
Now that your Windows 7 systems are properly patched, stable, secure, and working properly, you really have to carefully consider whether its really worth it to upgrade to Windows 10. It’s entirely reasonable to hold off until you get a new machine. By holding off until you purchase a machine with Windows 10 pre-installed, you give Microsoft the time to improve the operating system.
It’s an exciting time for IT – monitoring business applications closely to ensure they continue to operate while, at the same time, helping businesses take advantage of new and innovative technology. That said, it’s hard enough to make a profit in business when your I.T. tools are productive and secure. There are many risks when moving to a new operating system too soon and there aren’t really a lot of good business reasons being presented to justify a widespread movement into Windows 10. For now, and perhaps for the next 6 to 9 months, the safest route for your business is to maintain your existing desktop computers in their stable Windows 7 operating systems.
As the Windows 10 operating system is patched and updated, and as other less fortunate businesses suffer through the evolution, the entire team here at TechWorks will stay on top of the Windows 10 developments. When a need presents itself within your business, you can be confident that we will be ready to recommend the appropriate operating system to ensure technology works for your business!