Although notoriously slow to upgrade Windows operating systems, retailers may be scrutinizing yesterday's release of Windows 10 more than past upgrades. The Microsoft system's new features may compell retailers to upgrade sooner than usual, but they still won't rush to the download site like many consumers.
Microsoft is promoting Windows 10 for business use from the outset and emphasizing its security features. These will be welcomed in the point-of-sale environment once the operating system is proven to be stable.
"We believe that consumers will embrace Windows 10 because it was fundamentally created with consumer-interests in mind," Chris Woodin, a director of Microsoft Sales Operations at Softchoice, told FierceRetailIT. But these will also be welcome for business use. "Windows 10 will likely mark the last time they do a full desktop OS upgrade, and will come with a more regular, real-time rhythm of updates."
Early users of Windows 10—some 5 million testers—ranked its intuitiveness as a top benefit, he said. Secondly, the creation of the Universal Apps Platform should close the app-gap that's prevented users from adopting Windows across all device types in the past.
"These things are making Windows cool again, and that's one of the key reasons IT departments in the enterprise are eager to adopt and deploy it. They need to get in front of the technology that their users want, more than ever before," Woodin said. Some retailers are still using Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP, although support for these has ended.
Aside from the usual tasks of making sure that legacy applications will operate as usual on Windows 10, the biggest preparation that IT departments will need to make is in the way they maintain their desktop operating system images, he said. "Previously, they would rip and replace the desktop standard every few years, and update those standards periodically with OS patches."
While Windows 10 is being made available as a free download to many consumer and small-business customers, it will not be free to enterprise customers. "For enterprise customers and partners, we will continue to deliver exclusive value and offer extensive flexibility in how Windows 10 is deployed and managed as Windows evolves to become a service," said Jim Alkove, corporate VP and leader of the Windows enterprise program management team, in a company blog post.
"For companies that require these enterprise-grade capabilities, Windows Software Assurance will continue to offer the best and most comprehensive benefits. Windows 7 Enterprise and Windows 8/8.1 Enterprise are not included in the terms of free Windows 10 Upgrade offer we announced last week. Active Software Assurance customers will continue to have rights to upgrade to Windows 10 enterprise offerings outside of this offer, while also benefitting from the full flexibility to deploy Windows 10 using their existing management infrastructure."
There are several new characteristics of Windows 10 Pro that are particularly applicable to business users, PYMNTS.com reported. For example, Microsoft has increased security features and made the use of its touchscreen easier. Also, Microsoft has rolled out Cortana, which has been compared to Apple's Siri, and uses voice recognition to set reminders. Cortana can remind users of business meetings or to send an email, and these reminders can pop up based on location.
Cortana also can be integrated into back-end business systems to provide relevant work-related information along with other daily information, like the weather and travel information found at the Start menu.
Azure Active Directory is another feature of Windows 10 Pro. This is a cloud-based platform that can link into a company's existing Microsoft business account. Fingerprint readers enable employee access to company devices while providing an added level of security beyond that of passwords.
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