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Enterprises: Like It or Not, Here Comes Windows 10!

Wow! Has there been a lot of Windows 10 action at the enterprise lately, or what? The Internet has been abuzz with everything from rants to raves for enterprises interested in — or already piloting or deploying — Windows 10. In fact, I can’t help but see something of a “stick and carrot” approach emerging from Microsoft in making the case for Windows 10 to its all-important enterprise user base.

On the carrot side, there’s been some interesting coverage of enterprise adoptions of Windows 10 that are worth researching further for interested parties. On January 12, Terry Myerson, MS’s EVP for the company’s Windows and Devices Group posted an item entitled “Windows 10 Embracing Silicon Innovation” to the Windows Experience blog. It actually speaks to both sides of a carrot-and-stick dynamic where enterprise adoption of Windows 10 is concerned.

Walk Softly, But Carry a Big…
There’s little difficulty seeing the stick side of things in this statement regarding upcoming chips and chipsets:

Going forward, as new silicon generations are introduced, they will require the latest Windows platform at that time for support. This enables us to focus on deep integration between Windows and the silicon, while maintaining maximum reliability and compatibility with previous generations of platform and silicon. For example, Windows 10 will be the only supported Windows platform on Intel’s upcoming “Kaby Lake” silicon, Qualcomm’s upcoming “8996” silicon, and AMD’s upcoming “Bristol Ridge” silicon.

I don’t think it’s unfair to characterize this statement as equivalent to “If you want the latest and greatest new circuitry, you’re going to have to run Windows 10 thereupon.” I can’t help but see this as a way for Microsoft to limit its need to develop multiple versions of device drivers — particularly at the device class level, where it often takes the lead in creating driver frameworks that manufacturers can then customize and optimize for their particular device offerings — or at least to test those device drivers on “current” (i.e. mainstream supported) operating systems. I have no trouble understanding why they want to do this, but I also have no trouble understanding why I surely won’t be the only one to see the stick in this statement, particularly amidst the enterprise audience. Ditto for Myerson’s later statement in the same blog post that Skylake support for Windows 8.1 and 7 will apply to “devices on the supported list” until July, 2017, after which only the most critical security updates will be addressed for those configurations…

If you read carefully here, both carrot and stick are evident in this MS slide.

Carrots Help One See Better in the Dark
In the same blog post, Myerson also reports on Windows 10 action in its enterprise customer base, “with more than 76% of our enterprise customers in active pilots and over 22 million devices running Windows 10 across enterprise and education customers.” Quotes from Kimberly-Clark, the Australian Government’s Department of Human Services, and NASCAR Information services touting improved security, speedy deployment, and identity management follow. MS is doing everything it can do position Windows 10 as a useful and productive desktop OS for business use, and pulling out all the stops in getting its message out.

In the end, it’s sometimes hard to tell which of the carrot and the stick proves the most powerful inducement to change. It’s clear that MS understands it must use all the means at its disposal to move enterprises forward onto Windows 10, whether lured by anticipation of improved security and capability, or forced by the inexorable forward move onto the latest silicon platforms.