By the end of 2017, 85 percent of enterprises will have started Windows 10 deployments, according to a recent Gartner survey. If you're one of the holdouts who haven't already begun your migration to Windows 10, you're doing yourself a disservice.
For starters, Microsoft will soon cease supporting earlier versions of Windows. Microsoft ended Mainstream Support for Windows 7 in January of 2015 and will cease Extended Support in January of 2020. Mainstream Support for Windows 8 and 8.1 will cease in January of 2018 with Extended Support following suit in January of 2023. Unsupported versions no longer receive hot fixes or security updates, which renders their continued use a security risk.
Better still, Windows 10 offers many new capabilities that address customers' most pressing issues. Organizations can take advantage of countless advances that improve security, employee productivity, IT productivity, and business agility. Significant reduction in total cost of ownership compared with maintaining older versions is another compelling reason to upgrade to Windows 10.
Security is the number one reason organizations are moving to Windows 10, according to the Gartner survey. Between January 1 and June 30 of 2017, 2,227 publically disclosed data breaches exposed more than 6 billion records. While the overall number of breaches is comparable to the same periods in 2015 and 2016, the total number of records compromised during that six-month period was higher than for all of 2016, according to the cyber analytics firm Risk-Based Security.
Windows 10 is the most secure version of Windows ever. The initial release back in July of 2015 offered a multitude of new and improved security features. These include a full range of pre-breach threat protection capabilities that remove or defend against attack vectors used by malware and hackers. Built-in security management tools enable security teams to protect, detect and respond to advanced threats and data breaches on your networks. Sophisticated biometric identity protection offers greater protection than passwords while being easy to use and standards based. The OS even protects data at rest and in motion.
According to a recent report in CSO Magazine, the most significant new security capabilities in Windows 10 include:
- Virtualization-based security (VBS) uses software and hardware-based mechanisms to make it difficult for attackers to tamper with core components of the operating system.
- Secure booting makes it more difficult for hackers to inject low level malware, such as rootkits.
- Windows Hello eliminates passwords, which are often stolen and used nefariously, by supporting three methods of biometric authentication (facial, iris and fingerprint) used together with a simple PIN.
- Passport offers single sign-on to simplify secure user access to multiple applications.
- Device Guard allows only trusted applications to run on devices, protecting the device from malware and preventing attackers from remotely taking control of the machine.
- Credential Guard isolates corporate identities in a hardware-based virtual environment so that even if the machine is compromised, the credentials are not available to the attacker.
- Enterprise Data protection provides persistent file level encryption and basic rights management to prevent accidental or deliberate data leaks.
In addition, Microsoft continually patches Windows 10 to address newly discovered vulnerabilities and automatically installs those patches to enable organizations to stay ahead of attackers.
End User Productivity
Organizations are continually looking to improve employee productivity on every device they use. Windows 10 offers many features that make employees more efficient:
- Windows 10 reintroduces the Start Menu after having discontinued it in Windows 8. The Start Menu includes the familiar menu column as well as tiles that makes it easy for users to quickly access apps, documents, pictures, settings and utilities.
- Integrated into the Start Menu, Universal Search enables users to search across applications, folders, documents and the Internet and displays results on the Start Menu results pane.
- Microsoft's digital assistant, Cortana, allows users to simply say "Hey Cortana," speak a command, and Cortana quickly carries out searches and finds information using the Bing search engine.
- Virtual desktops keep open apps better organized. For example, a user can create a virtual desktop for personal activities and a second virtual desktop for work-related activities.
- Windows Ink makes it as easy to use a pen on Windows as it is on a piece of paper. Users simply press a button to access sketchpads that offer a blank canvas for drawing, draw on a screen capture of their entire desktop to collaborate on documents, create and save Sticky notes, or use pen-capable screen apps.
- The Action Center is a unified place for all notifications about system or app events that users can peruse or dismiss at their leisure.
- Edge Browser is Microsoft's newest browser. It supports modern standards such as HTML5, SVG, ES5, ES6, and CSS3, providing a clean interface and easy to configure settings. Many productivity enhancements are included such as access to Cortana, Webnotes that let users take notes directly on web pages, a reading list that saves content to read later and a reading view lets users view content without distractions.
IT departments today need to do more with less. While IT budgets are flat, 75-80 percent of these budgets are already earmarked for maintaining existing systems[C1] , leaving only a small slice for innovation. Windows 10 enables IT pros to do more with less by simplifying the deployment and servicing of Windows client computers and leveling out the resources needed to deploy and maintain Windows over time.
Windows 10 is simpler to deploy than previous versions. IT can use an easy, automated in-place upgrade process that preserves all apps, settings and data. (A number of other deployment options are available for organizations that require more flexibility. Once a machine is running Windows 10, deployment of patches and feature updates is equally simple using the same in-place upgrade process.
While compatibility was previously a major concern for organizations upgrading to a new version of Windows, Windows 10 is compatible with most hardware and software capable of running on Windows 7 or later. This high level of compatibility greatly simplifies the app compatibility testing process.
Windows 10 also automatically performs time-consuming system maintenance tasks on a schedule. These tasks include software updates, security scanning with applications such as Windows Defender, disk defragmentation and optimization and other diagnostic tasks. The exact set of tasks will vary from PC to PC as IT can set scheduled tasks to run during the maintenance window.
Windows 10 offers a new servicing model that allows organizations to become more agile by making new capabilities developed in response to emerging customer needs available more frequently. Rather than providing a new version of Windows every 3-5 years, Microsoft now offers new capabilities 2-3 times a year.
With its new capabilities, Windows 10 reduces total cost of ownership across many dimensions. According to a study by Forrester Research, new security features in Windows 10 reduce or prevent security events that would otherwise require IT remediation. Forrester estimated that some businesses could save up to $700,000 a year by taking advantage of Windows 10 security features.
Improvements such as convenient access to corporate applications help IT and end users alike complete work more quickly and effectively. Forrester found that employees, particularly mobile workers, estimate they have 25% more time to get work done than they did before.
Easy-to-use features and self-service functions make Windows 10 far easier to install, manage and support. One surveyed company found that deploying Windows 10 was as much as 50% easier than its previous OS upgrade and IT management was 15% faster.
The advantages of Windows 10 combined with imminent end of life for earlier versions of Windows make now a great time to take the plunge. Contact us today to learn how we can help you determine whether an upgrade is the best plan for your organization.