As the two-year anniversary of the Windows 10 launch approaches (July 29), new research from Spiceworks indicates that enterprises may have warmed to Microsoft's latest desktop operating system, but Windows 7 still rules the roost.
In its latest survey of desktop operating system penetration rates in business, Spiceworks, the IT management specialist and professional online community, found that a majority of organizations worldwide (60 percent) are running at least one instance of Windows 10 somewhere on their networks. In terms of adoption rates, this places Windows 10 ahead of Windows Vista, Windows 8 and the 16-year-old Windows XP.
Windows 7, released in October 2009, remains the most popular desktop operating system with a penetration rate of 84 percent. The operating system runs on 68 percent share of all business desktops and laptops, compared to 13 percent for Windows 10.
Although Microsoft has been steadily adding more business-friendly features to Windows 10 since its release, sticking with Windows 7 still makes the most sense for many IT departments.
"Some organizations are sticking with Windows 7 for a few different reasons; the OS still offers great performance; it will receive security patches until 2020; and it provides an experience users are comfortable with," Peter Tsai, senior technology analyst at Spiceworks, told eWEEK. "Additionally, upgrading all computers to a new operating system can be costly and time consuming, especially for enterprises that support thousands of machines."
Sure, Windows 10 brought back the Start Menu and other familiar interface elements that cater to the keyboard-and-mouse crowd. But getting their workforces accustomed its new features and quirks is not worth the productivity hit for many organizations. Worse, supporting the newer operating system can be a distraction for overburdened IT staffers.
"An OS migration also requires IT professionals to train end users on new features and functionality, which may result in reduced productivity for employees while they're overcoming the learning curve," Tsai said. "And IT departments are often busy fighting more urgent fires, so it takes time for them to manage less pressing matters. One could say that many IT departments subscribe to the saying, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it,'" he added.
Not all types of businesses feel the same way, however. Windows 10 penetration rates are typically higher among software companies (75 percent) compared to businesses operating in regulated industries like finance and healthcare, with both at 57 percent adoption.
"Historically, Spiceworks data shows the software industry is often ahead of the curve when it comes upgrading their systems," noted Tsai. "Given the high-tech nature of the industry, they're typically the earliest adopters. Additionally, software companies often have to test their products on the latest operating systems to ensure compatibility."
Tsai described regulated organizations as "more cautious" overall, holding off on new operating systems until their security and compliance are requirements are met. "As a general rule, some IT departments wait until the initial bugs and security vulnerabilities are patched before taking on a new operating system," observed Tsai. "Additionally, many regulated companies like to wait until the applications they depend on are fully compatible with a new OS before upgrading."
More information and insights on Spiceworks's findings are available here.