Offering Windows 10 as a free upgrade to millions of Windows 7 and 8.1 users was a shrewd move, suggests new research from the IT analysts at Gartner.
"In the consumer market, a free upgrade coupled with broad legacy device support and automatic over-the-air upgrades ensures that there will be tens of millions of users familiar with the operating system (OS) before the end of 2015," Steve Kleynhans, research vice president at Gartner, said in a Nov. 23 statement. "For enterprises, we expect that implementation will be significantly more rapid than that seen with Windows 7 six years ago."
By January 2017, Gartner expects that 50 percent of enterprises will have begun deploying Windows 10 in anticipation of finishing their migrations in 2019. Many businesses will start pilot programs during the first half of 2016 with the aim of broader rollouts during the tail end of the year, observed Gartner.
Indicating some early interest from corporate IT departments, Jim Alkove, corporate vice president of Microsoft Enterprise and Security, revealed in late August that 1.5 million enterprise devices were already running Windows 10. Last month, during an investor conference call to discuss Microsoft's fiscal 2016 first-quarter earnings, CEO Satya Nadella said there were 8 million business PCs among the 110 million devices running Windows 10.
Gartner cites pent-up demand for tablets and two-in-ones as a reason for such brisk adoption rates in corporate circles. IT managers are also aware the Microsoft plans to pull support for the popular Windows 7 operating system in a few short years (January 2020). It also helps that Windows 10 features "strong compatibility with Windows 7 applications and devices," said Gartner.
Windows 10 will also help drive demand for touch-enabled PCs. Touch-screens will appear on one-third of all notebooks shipped by 2018 as prices drop and migration plans accelerate, Gartner predicted.
Chances are that those Windows 10 systems will increasingly be used to access remote business apps in the coming years.
Gartner forecasts that by 2019, organizations will double the number of remotely delivered apps compared to 2015. "As platform-specific Windows applications dip below a certain threshold and become a 'manageable minority'—that is 20 to 30 percent of the application portfolio—organizations will find it increasingly financially and operationally attractive to ring-fence all of them using device-independent delivery options," Gartner Research Director Nathan Hill said in a statement.
More than just an OS upgrade, Windows 10 will have a major impact on how administrators manage their end-user environments.
"From an IT perspective, Windows 10 and the move of applications to the back end will dramatically change how those applications are delivered to employees," stated Gartner Vice President and Distinguished Analyst Ken Dulaney. "Updates will be more frequent, more incremental and less obvious to the end user. Software vendors and internal IT have much to do to adapt to this new model and to move away from the image management model for PCs of today."
Finally, for a significant number of business customers, the economics of purchasing PCs and displays will have flipped on its head. By 2018, 30 percent of enterprises will spend more on outfitting their PCs with bigger, higher-resolution screens than on the PC hardware itself, said Gartner.