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Rethink Your Strategy with Windows 10

Managed ServicesWhenever a new version of Windows is released, you always hear the same things:

  • Don’t be on the bleeding edge.
  • Stay one version behind.
  • Wait until the first service pack.
  • Remember Vista?
  • Switch to Mac or Linux.

Then the conversation invariably turns from ugly to absurd with lines like “Microsoft has never been innovative” or “Microsoft won’t be around in 5 years”. You really have to wonder how many FUD articles are commissioned by competitors and at what cost. Apple may dominate in the US with iPhone, but Mac has less than 5% of the market after 30 years. Microsoft made over $4.5 Billion after tax per the FY15 Q1 earnings report. The rest of the discussion quickly becomes pointless.

Except, let’s ask two hard questions that will give you pause:

  1. When has a new version of Windows ever been free without previously purchasing Software Assurance?
  2. What if there were no pending service pack or next version of Windows?

Microsoft is changing the game with Windows 10. Even though there has been a long standing defined Microsoft 10 year lifecycle, the conflict has always been people resistant to change with islands of legacy software holding back major breakthroughs.

These are the top things everyone should understand about Windows 10 strategy:

Staggered Release Schedule. The official Windows 10 launch is scheduled for July 29, 2015, but only to Microsoft Insiders. There are Windows 10 Launch Celebrations worldwide including more than 110 Microsoft Stores (RSVP for the 10AM events in Tulsa and Oklahoma City). Downloads for free upgrades to registered Windows 7 and 8.1 users will be available August 15, 2015.  Distributors like Dell are currently publicizing models with Windows 10 for ordering availability on the official launch. New PCs with Windows 10 will arrive in retail stores like Best Buy and Wal-Mart by October.

Free Windows 10 Upgrade. You must be a genuine Windows 7 SP1 or 8.1 customer. You have one year from availability to upgrade to Windows 10 for free on each device. If you don’t take advantage of the free upgrade on or before July 29, 2016, you’ll have to pay an estimated $119.99 per license for Windows 10 Home and $199.99 per license for Windows 10 Pro. There is a Windows 10 App that automatically installs on most consumer devices after applying optional updates with an offer to reserve an upgrade copy, as well as test compatibility. For business environments, the marketing offer may not be displayed. However, Windows 10 may be downloaded after August 15, 2015 whether you reserve a copy or not. Do not install any third-party utilities to force the Windows 10 App behavior because they are likely malicious malware.

Base Requirements. Historically, Microsoft system requirements are the bare minimum and it’s no different for Windows 10 specifications. 4GB of RAM for 32 bit devices and 8GB of RAM for 64 devices is recommended for best performance. In general, applications that run on Windows 7 SP1 or higher will run on Windows 10. However, you should always check with the manufacturer for compatibility and test beforehand. If the hardware is older, forego the upgrade and wait until the next PC refresh.

Ring Updates. Starting with Windows 10, there will be no more Microsoft Patch Tuesday. In September 2014, Microsoft published Windows 10 for Business by Jim Alkove that outlined continuous security and feature updates on a slow or fast ring. The default slow ring allows administrators to configure critical security updates on demand and other feature updates one month after fast ring for the earliest scheduled updates. Under this paradigm, everyone will be on the same version of Windows going forward after upgrading to Windows 10.

Compelling Move. You’ll be familiar with Windows 10 as the initial desktop and traditional Start Menu are back. Not to mention just a few features to make you more productive, like the Cortana personal assistant and new Edge browser that is 112% faster than Chrome. Just like Windows 8, you have standard built-in apps that sync across any device.

You can find out more at the Windows 10 Top Questions and Answers. The bottom line is your applications and age of hardware will drive your decision to upgrade, but any software publisher that doesn’t move to Windows 10 compatibility quickly will be far behind in the marketplace. If you cling to the old upgrade approach of the last 20 years, the most you can delay is 5 years until Windows 7 is discontinued in 2020. By that time, what you know and use may simply be irrelevant.

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