With less than a year to a big Windows 7 support deadline, it is time for the PC to decide.
It’s less than a year now until Windows 7 disappears from mainstream support; after January 14, 2020, Microsoft will no longer provide security updates or support for Windows 7 PCs unless you pay extra.
This is a big problem for many companies: while Windows 7 is in the tooth for a long time (it was sold back in October 2009), it is very popular-at least as much as a PC operating system can be loved-and is still widely used. In fact, although Windows 10 was around the end of 2015, Windows 7 was finally overtaken only in the last month or so.
According to Microsoft, Windows runs 1,5 billion devices, and Windows 10 runs more than 700 million. However, this means that there are hundreds of millions of devices running Windows 7, with this deadline for support.
Microsoft is certainly keen for companies to upgrade, giving Windows 10 security over Windows 7 a good reason to make the move. It is also keen to get as many users as possible on Windows 10, because this will help to build momentum behind Windows as a service, which means regular feature updates instead of massive upgrades every few years. But companies that are often wary of new technology will notice Microsoft’s recent upgrades to Windows 10 and worry about the impact on their infrastructure.
So what’s going on now? Andrew Hewitt, a technology analyst at Forrester Research, says that he has seen a massive migration in the past two years and is heading towards Windows 10. According to Forrester ‘s survey of infrastructure decision-makers, 56 percent of the PCs released by the company currently run Windows 10–up 8 percent from last year and 18 percent from the previous year.
“This shift is taking place at a rapid rate, but as you can see, there are still a lot of ways to go before everyone is moved to Windows 10 “says Hewitt.
So why not update everyone?
One reason is that companies have legacy apps that are not Windows 10 compatible and don’t know what to do or have not yet done their application compatibility tests-a key migration milestone. Some worry about the frequency of Windows updates and do not have the processes in place to respond appropriately, and some worry about costs.
“All these things work together to keep Windows 7 organizations, “says Hewitt. Hewitt predicts that we will not see full adoption of Windows 10 by 2020, as some organizations are comfortable waiting longer before making these changes. There are also some non-standard devices, such as robust devices, which run Windows 7 for a while, he says.
“I am optimistic about the vast majority of organizations moving forward by 2020, but it will certainly not be 100%. Some people will consider other alternatives, such as ChromeOS, which we have seen increasingly adopted in business usage cases, “says Hewitt. A few years ago, moving customers to the newest version of Windows could have been a make-or-break project for Microsoft, but nowadays it’s not just the Windows Company.
Windows is now unceremoniously lumped in with surface, gaming and search revenues under More Personal Computing in its quarterly company results. For Microsoft, the priority is its other two revenue baskets–Productivity and Business Processes (including Dynamics and Office 365) and Intelligent Cloud–which grow faster than the Windows group, although slightly smaller by revenue.
This is probably the same; PC shipments have been declining for seven years now-yes seven years. Consumers buy fewer PCs (40%, down from 49% just five years ago), which means that PCs-and Windows-are more and more a business tool.
Since Microsoft missed the boat largely on smartphones, tablets and wearables, it is a wise choice to focus on productivity and cloud. That’s not to say the PC isn’t important yet: it’s the gateway to many other products like Office 365 and to a lesser extent to the cloud offerings of Microsoft. And despite claims that Windows would give way to Chromebooks (or Linux on the desktop even further into the distant past), Microsoft’s OS has proved remarkably resilient.
Deciding what to do about the demise of Windows 7 will be a headache and will create a lot of work for IT, but the reality is that Windows is not as important as it once was, thanks to the increase in browser, cloud and new device types, all of which mean that the desktop is not the only option for productivity anymore.