Surveys suss out Windows 10 enterprise migration timelines

A year to migrate half of corporate PCs? Or is it 68% in 12 months? Or more than two years to get to 75%?

Enterprises are eager to get Windows 10 onto their workers' PCs. Or they're in no rush.

They see the just-released Anniversary Update as a major milestone. Or they don't.

And some expect to have a majority of their PCs running Windows 10 in just a year from now. Or they believe it'll take twice that long.

Recent surveys of IT administrators, managers and professionals displayed those opinions, and more, showing little consensus on anything other than the broadest trends that first, corporate IT likes Windows 10 a lot more than it did Windows 8, and second, Windows 10 will replace Windows 7 as the go-to operating system.

Windows 10's adoption in the enterprise will be critical to the OS's success, especially from this point forward: The consumer-centric free upgrade offer has expired and the historic slump in PC shipments, mostly blamed on consumers' refusal to buy new systems to replace aged ones, continues unabated.

Now that the consumer winds have calmed, businesses must begin deploying the operating system if growth is to continue. That will happen. But the question is: When?

The 300 polled by Adaptiva, a Seattle, Wash. systems management developer that specializes in enhancing the capabilities of Microsoft's management and distribution platform -- System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) -- were optimistic. More than half asserted that over 50% of their company's PCs would run Windows 10 within the next year.

"The people who we're working with in that [migration] process seem to be moving at that pace," confirmed Jim Souders, Adaptiva's chief operating officer.

Another survey, this one conducted by Austin, Tex.-based Spiceworks, an online community and resource for IT professionals and the vendors trying to reach them, produced results in line with that rapidity. More than half the respondents said that between 63% and 68% of their organizations' notebooks and desktops would have Windows 10 in the next 12 months.

But the poll done by Palo Alto, Calif.-based VMware reflected a slower cadence. That survey, which relied on interviews with nearly 600 VMware customers, pegged two years as the time it will take to put Windows 10 on 75% of installed PCs -- even though the migration is IT's current top priority.

Not surprisingly, the larger the organization, the longer the time before that 75% mark will be reached, said VMware's survey: Small-to-mid-sized businesses said they could get there in 1.7 years (or approximately 20 months), but enterprises guessed 2.1 years (25 months).

A longer timeline is what industry analysts have predicted. Gartner's Steve Kleynhans, who covers Microsoft -- Windows specifically -- recently said that although enterprises are "still committed, still aggressively moving forward" on migrating to Windows 10, his timetable hasn't changed. Deployments will begin in significant numbers in 2017, but 2018 is when they will hit their peak, he reaffirmed in an interview last week.

The real deadline for Windows 10 isn't a factor of Microsoft's marketing push, but the end-of-life (EOL) looming for Windows 7, the dominant business OS. Microsoft will support Windows 7 with security updates until January 2020, or for another 41 months.

VMware's poll confirmed that the Windows 7 EOL is the driving factor, with 74% -- the most of any response -- ticking "eventual obsolescence" of Windows 7 as the reason for migrating. And Spiceworks' survey put the rationale near the top, too, with 48% ranking it third, behind the free upgrade (60%), and performance and stability improvements (49%).

The Adaptiva and Spiceworks survey results can be viewed or downloaded from the firms' websites. The Adaptiva results require registration.

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