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Windows 10 and System Center Upgrades Pressuring IT Pros

Most organizations that have started Windows 10 migrations are planning to complete them by year-end 2016, according to a small, industry-sponsored survey.

An online poll of 127 respondents, produced by Microsoft partner Adaptiva (signup required), found that of those IT pros that have already started Windows 10 migrations, 63 percent expect to complete their projects by year's end. Most of the respondents (78 percent) worked in organizations with more than 1,000 "seats" (the seat number figure refers to either number of users or devices).

The survey respondents mostly (85 percent) used Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) 2012 products to manage client devices, although 3.1 percent were SCCM 2007 users.

Windows 10 was the driving pressure behind SCCM upgrades per 65 percent of the respondents. In addition, 86 percent of respondents indicated that keeping current with Windows 10 service branch releases was a main consideration for carrying out SCCM upgrades.

Adaptiva emphasized this latter point in its press release, stating that SCCM 2012's tracking of Windows 10 service branch updates "soon will be discontinued in ConfigMgr 2012." The company, which makes add-on solutions to System Center Configuration Manager, is alluding to Microsoft's somewhat obscure announcement back in late October. In it, Microsoft declared that SCCM 2012 SP2 CU1 and SCCM 2012 R2 SP1 CU1 would just support Windows 10 service branches through the fall of 2015. Those management products will support Windows 10 version 1511, but no further Windows 10 service-branch releases.  

Microsoft now updates Windows 10 and System Center Configuration Manager as if they were services. Consequently, SCCM 2012 management products will only support Windows 10 changes through Feb. 2016, Microsoft declared, in its October announcement. That date is approximately when the next Windows 10 service branch is expected to arrive.

The survey respondents may have been be aware of this need to upgrade SCCM 2012 per Microsoft's February deadline, but they also see it as a time burden. The time taken to upgrade Configuration Manager was deemed a worry by 57 percent of the respondents, even though Microsoft has claimed that it's just an "in-place upgrade," meaning it's not the old burdensome "wipe-and-replace" kind of upgrade process.

About a third of respondents also worried about the new SCCM product's maturity, when it arrives in February. Microsoft released a standalone version of SCCM 1511 back in December, and plans to release the full System Center 2016 product suite sometime in the third quarter.

Microsoft's faster Windows 10 update release cycles did not augur good cheer among the survey participants. Microsoft has promised that Windows 10 updates will arrive at least one per month, every four months and every eight months, and that SCCM will be updated accordingly, too. Most of the survey respondents indicated that they were concerned that Microsoft's faster software release pace would just increase their workloads, as well as slow down their IT operations.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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