WHATEVER YOU THINK of Windows 10, there's one thing on which everyone from the casual observer to the most long-toothed analyst can agree: Microsoft has to make it work for business. If it doesn't, it's to all intents and purposes game over for Windows as the predominant operating system.
It's a heart-warming, Thanksgiving miracle, then, that we've been able to run exciting headlines like Windows 10: Enterprise migration set to be 'fastest ever' and Windows 10 enterprise adoption stands at over 11 percent just a few months after it arrived.
Contrary to popular belief, we've never had a problem with Windows 10 to the point where we want it to be a tragic failure. As Moe Szysalk puts it in The Simpsons: "I'm really more of a well-wisher, in that I don't wish you any specific harm."
What we have done from the outset, however, is to call a spade a spade, where Microsoft has a habit of calling it things like 'good-time, happy, long-handled love shovel'. Ahem.
So when we get a statistic, even from heavyweights like Gartner, Forrester and Spiceworks, suggesting that half of enterprise users plan to switch to Windows 10 next year, we have to raise our eyebrow ever so slightly.
You can make a statistic say anything you like and turn it into a nice juicy headline. We know that. We spend half our time unpicking headlines so we report something that is roughly grounded in fact. It's called journalism. Then there's digging through the truth to find a tasty headline. That's called muck raking. We don't do that one.
So here's the bottom line. There's no way that, with the best will in the world, Microsoft will have a 50 percent enterprise market share this time next year. Because that's not what it is saying - it's just implying it.
The devil is in the details. Microsoft is counting enterprises that have at least one machine that they're using to test on.
A perfect example of why we're over the rainbow in optimism is our very own Metropolitan Police. Thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request in April, we reported that 35,640 of the force's PCs (that's the computers, not the policemen) were still running Windows XP. Not 7 or 8.
A lot of the problems stemmed from the sharing of assets (that is to say, the computers) between different budgets, and therefore no-one taking responsibility for paying for the upgrades. It seems bonkers, but it's a story we hear again and again.
Are we really supposed to believe that everyone is going to sort themselves out in less than two years? The market share for XP and 7 have remained more or less steady for months now, while Windows 10 languishes in fourth place.
Then there are the companies stuck on old editions of Windows because of the proprietary software they run which will take a piece of string's length of time to fix.
Major global trading banks still use IE 6. Government departments still don't always support Vista. And then there's the whole question of the UK government's move toward open source solutions which would theoretically see it move away from Windows and onto a Linux OS to save money.
We can give Microsoft the benefit of the doubt because, thanks to Continuum, every device from Windows mobile through to that big screen you can draw on that no-one's quite sure about yet, can run 'the same' Windows. Microsoft could be right. There may well be a use case for Windows 10 in every office. But if we're going to count every hybrid, tablet, phone, Judge Dredd headset and IoT sensor because it's 'all one Windows 10' the claims are even less impressive.
Microsoft and its analytical chums aren't lying. There probably will be a Windows 10 presence in 49 percent of offices by this time next year. But let's be realistic. Windows 10 isn't free to Enterprises. The reasonably (though not overwhelmingly) fast uptake of Windows 10 so far as been almost exclusively in the free upgrading, first-adopting consumer sector. What we'll see is some rollout of Windows 10 in a lot of offices. But the vast majority will still be on Windows 7.
Windows 10 is likely to be a success for the enterprise. We'll buy that for a dollar. There's way too much at stake and it's too good a system (despite our niggles) for it not to be. But if you're expecting it to dominate our lives by the end of 2016, we're calling shenanigans. Life just doesn't move that fast, regardless of what Ferris Bueller tells you. µ
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