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Surveys Reveal Various Windows 10 Migration Priorities

Migrating PCs to Windows 10 is the top end user computing priority of VMware customers, according to the results of a survey published yesterday. Yet another survey by systems management software supplier Adaptiva found more than three quarters see no urgency to upgrade, with 64 percent saying they'll upgrade within the next year.

With any survey, it depends on who you ask. VMware polled organizations of various sizes from small businesses to large enterprises. Adaptiva's customers are typically very large enterprises that use Microsoft's System Center Configuration Manager.

Naturally, both companies timed the release of their findings in concert with Microsoft's release of its Windows 10 "anniversary update," which, for many IT decision makers, is the equivalent of what historically was known as the operating system's first service pack. IT organizations typically wait for that first major update before embarking on major upgrades to the new operating system. Interestingly, only 30 percent of the 300 Adaptiva customers with more than 10,000 seats say the anniversary update is signaling them to upgrade right away.

The VMware survey of 600 VMware customers conducted in June found that 75 percent of organizations will migrate their users within two years. Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) identified Windows 10 migration as their top priority, with maintaining and supporting existing Windows 7/8 PCs ranking second (56 percent) and PC hardware refresh (51 percent). Nearly three-quarters (74 percent) said the ultimate end of life of Windows 7 and 8 are the primary incentives for organizations to migrate to Windows 10. Almost half (49 percent) said that the inclusion of migration plans in their license agreements was also a factor. The survey found 43 percent saying that they wanted Windows 10 because it can take advantage of new hardware capabilities.

Among some other noteworthy data points from VMware's survey:

  • Only 25 percent are migrating to take advantage of better management capabilities, and even less (15 percent) are motivated by the new enterprise mobility management (EMM) capabilities. Only 11 percent said that they are upgrading because of the new applications the OS supports.
  • More than half (58 percent) said they will not change the way they manage Windows when upgrading.
  • A mere 17 percent said they were aware Windows 10 is optimized to implement mobility management functions in general and only 14 percent know it's better suited than previous versions to enable cloud-based management.
  • Small- and mid-size business are the furthest ahead (38 percent) with their Windows 10 migrations, compared with larger commercial organizations (21 percent) and the largest of enterprises (17 percent) customers.
  • Half of the respondents (50 percent) said they'd rather use Windows 10 to work on projects.
  • Roadblocks to migrating include concerns about application compatibility (61 percent), staffing (41 percent) and negative perceptions by some employees (37 percent).

Despite lack of interest or awareness of Windows 10's EMM capabilities by a noteworthy percentage of respondents to the VMware survey, those polled by Adaptiva ranked the OS's improved security as a primary factor for upgrading. Specifically, Windows 10's enterprise data protection, Device Guard, Credential Guard and security auditing are key drivers for the migration, according to the Adaptiva survey. Yet those Adaptiva respondents that have started migrations are pleased with their deployments, with more than half (52 percent) planning to have their systems migrated within the next year. At the same time, 65 percent say their deployments have had challenges. Among some of Adaptiva's findings:

  • System Center Configuration Manager (ConfigMgr) is the top deployment tool of choice, 83 percent overall, and nearly 90 percent among large enterprises.
  • According to the survey, 56 percent are utilizing Current Branch for Business with only 22 percent using Long-Term Servicing Branch.
  • To manage ongoing updates, 42 percent are using SCCM Windows 10 upgrade task sequences and 29 percent are using offline servicing features.

The appeal of Windows 10 is its improved management support capabilities for smaller organizations that don't have System Center or a similar enterprise-grade management platform. In a blog post revealing VMware's survey results, Mark Margevicius, the company's director of end user computing strategy, noted that the enterprise mobility management capability built into Windows 10 is not resonating, including the OS's new automatic enrollment, off-domain joined management and Microsoft's new update release cycle.

"Despite these new capabilities, most customers were not motivated by these features or preferred to stay with traditional Windows management techniques (i.e. imaging, relying on patching/updating or PCLM tools)," Margevicius noted. "We believe that customers who rely on traditional management are ready for a better way. Focusing on EMM can dramatically improve Windows management, while dropping operational costs."

The timing and dynamics of the data from VMware are interesting. Microsoft and VMware both have competing EMM offerings: Microsoft with its Enterprise Mobility + Security (recently renamed from Enterprise Mobility Suite) and VMware offers the popular AirWatch offering. At the same time, Microsoft has partnered with its rival to make sure AirWatch can take advantage of all Windows 10's EMM capabilities -- a surprising pact announced at last year's VMworld conference.

VMware also conveniently announced the release of its new AirWatch Express, which it describes as a cloud-based MDM offering targeted at businesses and organizations that have limited and, in some cases, no IT staff. The offering supports iOS, Mac, Android and Windows 10 devices, with pricing beginning at monthly subscription fee of $2.50 per device. Based on the same AirWatch platform, the company said the Express offering aims to simplify the configuration of applications, e-mail, WiFi and the implementation of security and encryption.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 08/03/2016 at 12:38 PM


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