Business users irked by frequent Windows upgrades

by CXOtoday News Desk    Oct 15, 2013


Business users are irked by the expeditious pace in which Microsoft Windows 8 operating system is moving ever since its launch a year ago, as a result of which most of them prefer to standardize on Windows 7. Research firm Gartner has recently confirmed that Windows 8 that has been designed for both PCs and tablets, has already had three rounds of updates. Business users find it difficult to adapt to Microsoft’s so called ‘jolts’ of quickening the pace of Windows releases and shifting to a new user interface which they called “Metro,” that abstains from its legacy applications for touch-based, mobile-like “apps.” Therefore enterprises will stay on Windows 7 as long as possible as the updates have been too frequent in Windows 8 -something .

Gartner analyst Michael Silver says in a recent interview that with the increased adoption of mobile devices, Windows 8 could have been successful in the business community. He reasons that in the next one or two years, there will be several more updates of Windows 8 Meanwhile, the Windows desktop is not changing much … it’s essentially on life support.

Silver shows in a slide that one way to deal with the faster release tempo and the emphasis on Metro was to simply delay by staying on the proven Windows 7. “Use the 10-year lifecycle of Windows 7 to standardize,” the slide read. Microsoft has pledged to support Windows 7 for the entire decade. It will patch vulnerabilities and non-security bugs till 2015, after which, it will provide security updates through 2020 as the “extended support” phase.

In such a scenario, it’s okay for companies to stick with Windows 7 for some time but Gartner recommends businesses begin migrating off Windows 7 at the end of 2017 and start dumping Office 2010 at the end of 2018.

The alternative to standardizing on Windows 7 can be to keep up with Microsoft’s quickened release tempo. That would demand a much faster deployment pace, where companies would conduct testing and application remediation in 12 months, and then deploy the current OS.

Likewise, market analytics firm NetMarketshare also mention in its latest report that Windows 7 is experiencing a better growth in the last two quarters than Windows 8, despite the rise of mobile devices and plummeting PC growth. Since its release at the end of October 2012, Windows 8 has gained on average 0.69 % market share each month, with the biggest leap coming in August when it gained 2.01 %.

One clear loser in Windows marketshare is Windows XP. NetMarketshare shows the venerable OS plummeting from 37.19 % market share in July down to 31.41 % at the end of September. Microsoft is still sticking to its schedule of delivering no more security updates for XP by April 2014, but historically, XP systems have been slow to die.

Because of the constant churn, businesses would be forced to test and remediate the newest OS and deploy its predecessor in a span of only 12-months. When Microsoft launches Windows 8.1 this week, the clock will begin ticking. But most analysts, including Gartner, expect Microsoft to debut Windows 8.2 a year from now.

Gartner believes that the faster release cycle is absolutely the biggest pain point, as enterprises do not know if their apps will work with each new version of Windows and IE. The Gartner data cites on average, corporations have one app for every 10 to 20 users. These hundred apps work with each new release of Windows, and with the new Internet Explorer browser Microsoft packages with each update, will be costly and time-consuming, making that 24-month cycle all but impossible to handle, says Silver.

Microsoft however dismisses the most of the concerns over the faster pace. CEO Steve Ballmer asserts at a conference: “We don’t see this as a problem at all!”

Nevertheless, Gartner analysts believe this accelerated pace of delivery will continue to leave business users baffled – forcing them to remain loyal to its predecessors or shift loyalty completely and move to its competitors.