Windows 10: What the New OS Holds in Store
With Windows 10, Microsoft is providing a bridge to the past while, at the same time, offering a path to the future with the introduction of the singular OS designed to support a multitude of devices.
This represents a course correction for the company as Windows 8 was largely shunned by corporate IT organizations. The problem was that Windows 8 was so different from Windows 7 that it required significant employee training and support.
Also, many IT organizations were experiencing “upgrade fatigue” after their deployment in Windows 7. As a consequence, adoption of Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 at the enterprise level has been relatively weak. Estimates of Windows 8 market share in the enterprise market hover in the single digits, while Windows 8.1 is in the mid-teens.To its credit, Microsoft’s attention to backward compatibility means the Windows 10 user experience (UX) will be familiar to the majority of corporate users still running Windows 7. Windows 10 will require little or no training for current Windows 7 users, which translates into potential time and cost savings.
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The Key Features of Windows 10
One of the key features Microsoft is bringing back with Windows 10 is the Start menu, which Microsoft abandoned with Windows 8. Users select the start button on the taskbar to add apps and manipulate tiles. Also, Microsoft is introducing the Store, a one-stop shop for apps that will work on all the users’ devices.
In parallel with the launch of Windows 10, Microsoft also launched Edge, the replacement browser for Internet Explorer 11. Edge is both faster than its predecessor and has more features. Both IE11 and Edge are bundled with Windows 10. Edge has a number of useful features for corporate users including Web Note, a reader, and Cortana, a virtual personal assistant. The new browser is not available to Windows 7 users.
Edge also comes with a built in reading view that lets users strip out extraneous content leaving the primary text, images, and video. It also includes a reading list option that allows users to bookmark content for reading offline.
Web Note is a productivity enhancement tool for research, projects, and presentations. It allows users to mark up a webpage with notes and highlights using the mouse and keypad for desktops and laptops and a pen or finger for touch screens. The user can save the page and share it with colleagues by email.
The personal assistant, Cortana, lets users type or use the microphone to get a richer set of information. The user can ask a question, set up meetings, send emails, or find files. In the browser, a user can highlight text and ask Cortana to activate Bing to retrieve more information.
Looking forward, Windows 10 provides IT organizations with a 10-year roadmap for aligning their installed base of desktops and laptops with their evolving plans for the integration of mobile devices: both corporate-owned and BYO devices. Having a single OS for all devices means Microsoft and third-party developers can focus their app development efforts around a single codebase.
Microsoft is using the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) for app development which was first introduced with Windows 8. A UWP app will run on any Windows 10 supported device--from PCs and laptops to tablets, smartphones and Internet of Things devices—automatically adjusting the UX to match the device. Customers that leverage UWP to consolidate development efforts will gain a competitive advantage by deploying digital tools more quickly at a more competitive price point.
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While IT organizations can expect productivity gains from the development of a common set of apps, they will need to budget time and money to ensure their third-party software vendors are in line with their own Windows 10 transition plans. Eden recommends companies conduct formal assessments of vendor support and receive assurance that their applications are compatible with Windows 10. If gaps exist, vendors must be able to provide timely upgrades and enhancements.
Enhancing security and systems management capabilities is another area IT management will need to evaluate. Windows 10 provides features and technologies to authenticate users, secure and isolate corporate data on user devices, and protect devices from cyber attacks. While these capabilities are promising, IT leaders should still test the new security features on their own to confirm they meet their organization’s standards and integrate with existing solutions.