Time flies when you’re upgrading operating systems. It has officially been a year since Microsoft introduced Windows 10 to much fanfare and approbation. Acceptance of the platform was almost immediate, with many users simply grateful to migrate away from the much-maligned Windows 8 environment. At the core of the problems with the previous edition of Microsoft’s flagship OS was that the GUI was designed to function more effectively on a tablet than on a PC, which infuriated users who had grown used to the Windows 7 look and feel on their laptops and desktops. The release of Windows 10 gave Microsoft’s core audience exactly what it wanted—a unified code base that enables the same applications to be employed on all device architectures (desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones) while retaining the look and feel of the classic Windows 7 desktop that they had come to appreciate.
Since its introduction, Windows 10 has become the most rapidly adopted PC operating system, outpacing Windows 7 adoption rates by 140% (according to Microsoft). EMA research indicates that in the enterprise market Windows 10 now accounts for a full third of all Windows deployments, which is equivalent to the number of current Windows 7 deployments and roughly double the number of existing Windows 8 deployments (with the balance of PCs still relying on ancient Windows XP implementations). The rapid adoption rate in the PC market was broadly driven by Microsoft’s aggressive upgrade program that allowed Windows 7 and Windows 8 users to transition to the new platform for free through July 29 of this year. It is currently unknown if Microsoft will extend any additional upgrade incentives after that date.
Enterprise Windows 10 tablet adoption rates were proportionally even more dramatic, as roughly half of all Windows tablets used to perform business tasks are now running Windows 10. The majority of these deployments are newly purchased devices (rather than upgrades) and account for a 40% increase in overall Windows tablet adoption since the OS was introduced. While Apple iPads continue to dominate the enterprise tablet market, Windows 10 is helping Microsoft close the gap. In fact, EMA research data revealed that 10% of iPad market shares have been yielded to Windows devices in the last year—correlating directly with Windows 10 availability and adoption rates. While the lower purchase cost of Windows Surface tablets and Windows-based tablets offered by third-party vendors (e.g., Dell, HP, Asus, Lenovo, Toshiba, etc.) is almost certainly a factor in the increased attractiveness of Windows tablets, the primary motivation for business adoption of the devices is the unified code base of Windows 10. Applications commonly employed on PCs can be simply installed on Windows 10 tablets without requiring any porting or recompiling processes.
Overall, users have been very satisfied with the Windows 10 environment on various devices, mostly because it emulates the positive usability experiences that had previously evolved for Windows 7. The use of tiles, which were first introduced with Windows 8, have still not achieved broad acceptance, but their presence in Windows 10 is unobtrusive and can be easily disregarded if preferred. The intelligent personal assistant, Cortana (introduced to compete directly with Google Now and Apple’s Siri), is popularly employed on mobile devices but largely lacks an audience among PC users. In fact, to reduce the performance impacts of Cortana, this feature is often disabled on enterprise PCs. Arguably, the only significant disapproval of Windows 10 involves the enforced operations of Windows Update. Users may defer the time of a patch or update installation, but they can no longer disable installations. For enterprise-used devices, this is actually a valuable asset to the business as it helps ensure security compliance and environment consistency across all supported devices, regardless of whether they are business-owned or employee-owned. However, users have found the intrusive updating sometimes impedes their productivity, particularly among PC users who are not used to yielding such control to fully automated processes.
For business work environments, the availability of Windows 10 has opened the door for the broad adoption of unified endpoint management (UEM) practices that have redefined how applications, data, and services are distributed across enterprise user devices. Rather than maintaining independent solutions for managing mobile and PC endpoints, the unified code base of Windows 10 allows organizations to employ a single set of consolidated process and tools to support all Windows-based endpoints. This greatly simplifies and reduces administrative practices, making the platform even more attractive to the enterprise market.
As Microsoft blows out the candle on Windows 10’s first birthday cake, it can rest assured that the platform’s future looks bright. At least in the enterprise market space, Windows 10 can be expected to continue its aggressive PC migration trend while slowly chipping away at iOS and Android tablet market shares.