Microsoft said last week that it won’t hit its target of one billion Windows 10 devices in use by June 2018, claiming that jettisoning its smartphone business is reducing the number of devices that could run its new operating system.
However, with more employees electing to use other computing devices for work, migration to Windows 10 is not a priority for some CIOs who are busy procuring cloud services, honing their analytics software and otherwise tackling more pressing projects.
Thanks to the proliferation of PC alternatives, including Macs and iPads, worldwide PC shipments declined 5.2 percent from the second quarter of 2015, marking the seventh consecutive quarterly decline, Gartner said last week.
The research firm says upgrades to Windows 10 could jumpstart PC sales among businesses toward the end of 2016 to the beginning of 2017.
But CIOs polled by CIO.com this month show little interest in upgrading their desktop software.
Windows 10 upgrade – amazingly not important
"It's not a strategic imperative for us in any shape or form," says Box CIO Paul Chapman, adding that 1,100 of Box' 1,400 employees use Macs. He says Box’ “heavy millennial workforce” are more comfortable using Apple and Google products. “It's just a natural extension for them to keep going on [those machines] rather than have them switch to a Windows machine,” Chapman says.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Mac-PC split is roughly 50-50 for its 4,400 employees. But Brook Colangelo, the publisher’s CTO, says he’s “not rushing to upgrade my desktops.” Colangelo is busy migrating to cloud services, "getting actionable data to my users and building out a seamless platform solution for our customers." Only 100 employees are currently piloting Windows 10.
Mark Moseley, vice president of information management at Rosetta Stone, says that the learning software company has begun looking at Windows 10 because it appreciates the security and usability enhancements the OS offers. But with a third of the company’s employees using Macs, and Windows 8 performing admirably for the remaining users, upgrading is not a strategic priority. “There’s no application or compelling need to move to 10,” Moseley says, adding that he may make the move in 2017.
Even CIOs wholike Window 10 aren’t exactly rushing to get the software on their work PCs.
[ Related: 10 reasons why you shouldn't upgrade to Windows 10 ]
Brian Long, CIO of aerospace parts provider Pattonair, says Windows 10's capability to run on any device is the "the right platform" for companies moving to the cloud. Even so, only 50 of Pattonair's 950 employees are piloting Windows 10. Long says he wants to move the company from Microsoft Outlook and Exchange to Office 365 first, which he says will ultimately make the transition and upgrade to Windows 10 more smooth. Long, who uses Windows 10 on his own PC, is looking forward to both moves. "I'm quite pleased with [Windows 10,] Long says.
Windows 10 will become the 'new enterprise standard'
Microsoft said last month that Windows 10 is running on more than 350 million devices, although most of that headcount comprises consumer devices.
Forrester Research analyst JP Gownder says that large financial services and healthcare firms that tend to standardize on PCs and bar unauthorized devices are implementing the software. Windows 10 includes built-in containerization and other security features that appeal to CIOs. As part of a so-called anniversary update next month, Microsoft plans to add new security capabilities and a feature called Windows Ink that lets you annotate documents with a digital stylus. "Windows 10 will become the new enterprise standard," Gownder says.
CIOs contemplating the switch can also take comfort in the fact that upgrading is much smoother than past OS migrations. Most enterprises spent two years testing and remediating apps and training staff for Windows 10, whose security and management tools had evolved drastically in the eight years since Microsoft launched Windows XP, according to a Gartner report published in April. Gartner analyst Stephen Kleynhans, who wrote the report, says he expects most organizations will be able to move from Windows 7 or Windows 8 to Windows 10 in roughly six to nine months.
Windows 10, the malware threat?
It would behoove Microsoft to proceed with caution after the company started a furor earlier this year. It angered users by promoting its software in such a way that it resembled malware, spurring so many complaints that the company backtracked and corrected the misstep.
Customers whose computers ran earlier versions of Windows received pop-up alerts offering a free upgrade. Many who clicked a red "X" in the top right corner of the alert box -- a move they believed would allow them to dismiss the upgrade alert -- actually triggered the upgrade instead. Last month, Microsoft changed tacks, enabling you to dismiss the alert box by clicking the red X and elect to upgrade right away, upgrade later
, or decline the offer.
That gaffe aside, Forrester’sGownder says that 2017 will be a big year for Windows 10 migrations as companies recognize that Microsoft has made it easier than ever to test, configure and synchronize business apps from SAP, Oracle and other vendors. "It does promise to be a less stressful, challenging and fragmented experience than in the past," says Gownder. "CIOs have fewer things to worry about."