The Windows 10 future: Imagine a boot stamping on an upgrade treadmill forever

Windows-as-a-service will require more frequent testing of everything you run

The advent of Windows-as-a-service means that businesses adopting Windows 10 will need to ensure they can monitor their software portfolio for compatibility with Microsoft's latest updates.

So says Annette Jump, a research director at Gartner who today addressed the firm's Infrastructure Operations & Data Centre Summit in Sydney, on the topic of how to prepare for a Windows 10 migration.

Jump said Gartner's research suggests at least 80 per cent of you will have done so by the end of 2018. Most of you will consume Windows 10's Current Branch for Business (CBB), a strain of Windows 10 that arrives four months after the periodic releases of the consumer version of the OS and which Microsoft says it will maintain for at least eight months.

Your challenge, Jump said, is that skipping a CBB release could mean skipping important enhancements, including security tweaks. That in turn means that you'll need to be ready for frequent testing and implementation of new Windows 10 versions.

Jump therefore thinks that when planning a move to Windows 10 you need to talk to your internal developers and make sure they're ready for and/or happy with a faster Windows release cadence. Software suppliers, she added, will need to be brought along for the ride because they typically make major changes every twelve to eighteen months.

And if either set of developer can't do that?

Jump didn't go there but did say “We do not recommend rushing into Windows 10 until you are ready for constant upgrades.” She also said that Windows 10 will never be “finished”. Organisations will need to pick a moment at which it's ready enough for their needs and/or risk appetites, then pull the trigger.

Jump also said that Windows 10 is not a compelling upgrade for most users, because while enhancements like facial authentication are undoubtedly helpful you;ll need new hardware to make them work. Windows 10 is happy on low-specced hardware so you can upgrade without also buying new boxen if you choose.

The analyst nonetheless advised at least starting to prepare for a migration, initially by gathering information about the hardware and software you use that will need compatibility checks. After that three-month effort, she recommended spending another three to six months setting standards and developing a standard Windows 10 image. Include some Windows 10 Current Branch for consumers in those tests so you can get a feel for what's coming in the next CBB release. With all that preparation complete, you'll be ready for pilots and eventually deployment … or just more ready for Microsoft turning off the support tap for Windows 7 in the year 2020. ®

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