Today, Microsoft launched their latest desktop operating system, Windows 10. While of course no business is going to jump on deploying a new OS so soon after launch, I have a feeling that small, medium and large business customers are going to be very pleased with Windows 10.
As Windows 7 was to Vista, Windows 10 is to Windows 8. When Windows Vista launched, it was received quite poorly, and few if any businesses switched to Vista and stayed on XP. When Windows 7 came out, it righted many of the wrongs of Vista and is now the most popular Microsoft OS.
Even more than Vista, the next version of Windows, 8, was a radical departure from its predecessor, and businesses did not warm up to it. Even with the 8.1 update, which addresses many of its shortcomings, we haven’t seen widespread use of Windows 8 or 8.1 in business environments. (in fact, all the computers at Lanworks are still running Windows 7).
Windows 10, though, is a big improvement over 8.1, and introduces many new features, while bringing back the much-requested Start menu. It also integrates the desktop version of Microsoft’s useful voice-controlled assistant Cortana and comes with Microsoft’s replacement for IE, the new Edge browser.
I am not going into any more detail about Windows 10’s features in this post (you can read about them here). I will say, though, that after using it for about a month on a secondary machine, and recently upgrading my primary personal machine to the final version, Windows 10 is very good. I can definitely see many businesses moving its users to it sooner than later, and of course Lanworks can help with that (more on that later).
Windows 10 Free Upgrade: Commercial Customer Options
One of the other big highlights of Windows 10 is that Microsoft announced in January that it is a free upgrade for computers running Windows 7 & 8.1. Only the Enterprise edition is excluded from this offer. However, what is not clear is what does this mean for commercial customers? Do they get Windows 10 for free? Well, in a nutshell, yes, but there is more to it than that, depending on how you’ve currently licensed Windows in your business.
Another thing that you may have noticed in your home PC is the icon the appeared in your taskbar that when clicked prompts you to reserve your upgrade to Windows 10 if you have an eligible OS. This kind of self-service upgrade is something businesses definitely wouldn’t want their employees to initiate. With this in mind, Microsoft has wisely disabled this notification for Domain Joined machines, which is was the vast majority of business machines are.
Windows 10 Pro Upgrade Paths for Business
Customers who have active Software Assurance (SA) have full flexibility in the way they can upgrade to Windows 10. They can do an in-place upgrade OR a clean installation. The Windows 10 Pro, Enterprise and Educational versions can be downloaded from the volume licensing portal (VLSC) on August 1st, a few days after this the July 29th launch day.
But part of Software Assurance’s value has always been no-charge version upgrades. However, many smaller businesses do NOT have Microsoft licenses with SA, either having purchased licenses under the economical Open Business licensing program, of having machines that came pre-installed with Windows. How do they take advantage of this free upgrade?
Well, those business customers ARE eligible to take advantage of the free upgrade. Unfortunately, you can only perform an in-place upgrade, which keeps your compatible apps, most settings, and the user’s files. You cannot do a clean install. Thankfully, since Windows 10 is very close to Windows 8.1 in many ways, the majority of your applications will work perfectly in Windows 10. Of course, you’d still want to test this first before rolling out any updates into production. The update can be initiated through Windows update, or installation media can be downloaded.
With this media, you can either create an ISO disk that can be used for manual upgrades to Windows 10 on a machine-by-machine basis or it can be used to distribute the upgrade using automated IT Management software. Managing a large deployment of a major upgrade like this is something Lanworks’ lifecycle management team can help with. A license key is not required for the update — Microsoft is using device based entitlement for Windows 10. However, if your organization does require you to use proper license keys, you can acquire new keys from Microsoft and apply them.
How can Lanworks help?
Our Lifecycle Management team has many years of experience using our partner’s client device management tools to automate patching, and updating and even migration to a new version of Windows. With the release of Window 10, we expect many of our customers to at least start planning their migration from Windows 7 to Windows 10 sooner than later. Companies can call us help with their transition, and make it as pain-free as possible. In our next blog post, we will outline how we plan on achieving this for our customers.