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Windows 10 Enterprise: No apologies necessary

Microsoft's Windows 10 Enterprise makes Windows 8 seem like a distant memory. But should CIOs wait or take the bait? Also in Searchlight, Google uses sensors to fight pollution; Intel's new memory chip breakthrough.

Who needs a 9 when you can skip right to 10? This week, Microsoft officially launched Windows 10, the much-hyped operating system (OS) that the technology giant hopes will make up for Windows 8.

According to the early reviews, Windows 10 Enterprise more than justifies the numerical jump and significantly improves upon the previous installment. Despite some initial bugs, critics are agreeing with the software maker that the new platform is familiar and fresh, resulting in an equally satisfying desktop and touch-based experience.

Windows 10 introduces a slew of new features and upgrades, including an improved user experience, a built-in personal assistant, a new default browser (so long, Internet Explorer), a revamped start menu, the ability to switch seamlessly between tablet and desktop modes, improved security elements and the controversial Wi-Fi Sense that allows you to automatically connect your friends to your Wi-Fi network without ever giving them your password.

Steve Kleynhans, vice president of Gartner's Mobile and Client Computing Group, gave the offering a glowing endorsement. "Windows 10 is what Windows 8 should have been in the first place:  An evolutionary step forward from the familiar Windows 7 environment, with the ground work laid for future computing models," Kleynhans  said in an email. The "solid, well-designed OS" enables the company to focus on its development efforts and to provide a "single target" for developers, as well as "keep the enormous base of consumer users current with less version fragmentation."

Windows 10 90-day catnip: Will CIOs pounce?

Microsoft also announced this week a free 90-day trial of Windows 10 Enterprise to allow organizations to test their business applications and start their deployment planning. It's meant to entice businesses to jump on the Windows 10 bandwagon early. But should they? Signs point to an equivocal yes, judging by the early reaction from CIOs on Twitter. Will Lassalle, CIO at JLS Technology USA, based in Newark, N.J., is well-versed in the new platform and gave his enthusiastic take in less than 140 characters.

Bob Egan, C-Level advisor and founder of Sepharim Research Group, agreed that Windows 10 Enterprise is a step in the right direction for Microsoft, but he isn't entirely convinced of its impact on the enterprise as a whole:

A Forrester report from earlier this year on Windows 10 took a stronger stance on the matter, professing the new platform will not only help Microsoft hold on to its position in PC computing, but also solidify its standing as the enterprise's leading OS.

"We do expect that Windows 10 will be adopted as an enterprise IT standard," David Johnson, principle analyst at Forrester Research Inc. and co-author of the report, told SearchCIO in a phone interview.

Johnson pointed to improvements like the one integrated app store and developer tool set, and frequent, standardized system updates instead of the bulky and infrequent service packs that came before it. On the user side, the familiarity factor is a huge plus.

"Window 10's usability, especially for conventional desktop and laptop use cases, is significantly improved over Windows 8. So, it won't be as big of an impact on employees as Windows 8 was. They won't have to deal with all the training," Johnson said.

That's good news for CIOs who decide to orchestrate the Windows migration. The improved security functionality will also makes thing easier, Johnson said, citing "better integration with all of the security features of the hardware. … [There's] better manageability between employee data, employee applications and enterprise apps; the APIs are getting better for MDM-like management, although it's not quite a reality yet for most enterprises," he said.

Downsides?

So with all this beef, are there any beefs? There are a few cautions for CIOs, mainly centered on application compatibility, Johnson said.

"It still has to be treated like a project for most companies, especially large organizations, because of the impact on applications," he said. "The early reports are that application compatibility is pretty good between Windows 7 and Windows 10, but not perfect. There are some things that don't function the same way -- drivers, for example."

In a tweet, Lassalle also listed driver function as a weakness in Windows 10 Enterprise:

The other challenge CIOs will face is deciding how to design applications for Windows 10 Enterprise's dual use cases, said Johnson. "Do they want to design them for primarily a desktop use case or do they want to design them for a tablet use case -- that's an additional choice that wasn't there before."

Gartner's Kleynhans said he's seeing "a surprising number of enterprises" are eager to embrace Windows 10 Enterprise, but cautioned it's still early for enterprise-wide adoption. "Microsoft has yet to deliver some of the enterprise targeted features. … And most enterprises would need at least 6 months just to figure out what their approach will be to the new OS and how it might impact in their existing environment."

Ready or not, the rush is on. Microsoft announced in a blog post early Friday that over 14 million devices are now running Windows 10, with that number expected to rise in the coming days as more users gain access to the upgrade.

CIO news roundup for week of July 27

Here are more technology headlines from the week:

  • Google wants to help you breathe easier. The search giant revealed this week that it has been working with startup Aclima Inc. for over a year to collect air quality data via sensors on its Street View cars. The goal is to spur change, by making the data available to citizens and local governments. Time will tell if seeing the pollution is believing that action must be taken.
  • Intel and Micron Technology Inc. have developed new memory chip technology, 3D XPoint, that will make our gadgets faster and allow them to store significantly more data. The companies say it's the first new mainstream memory chip to come to market in 25 years. The technology enables edge analytics, meaning big data could be processed outside of the data center.
  • Subway is the latest company to embrace a revamped mobile strategy. A new app allows customers to build their sandwich using their smartphones, pay in advance and then pick up their order in a jiffy. The company believes that this approach to payments makes sense because its customers embrace a "digital lifestyle."
  • Good news for those who never want to leave the house: Amazon's push-to-order Amazon Dash buttons have officially gone on sale to Prime members at the price of $4.99. There are currently 18 different buttons for 18 common household products, including Bounty paper towels and Tide detergent. The buttons can be stuck anywhere and are set up using one's Amazon app. One press will send a Dash alert. 

Check out our previous Searchlight roundups on Drones as a Service and Adobe Flash vulnerabilities.

Next Steps

For more on Windows 10 Enterprise, check out SearchEnterpriseDesktop's Windows 10 guide for IT leaders. Then, learn more about the built-in Cortana in Windows 10.

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