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Is it time to let go of Windows 7?

In September, Microsoft told the world that the number of monthly active users of Windows 10 had gone past 400 million. Many of those users are consumers, but businesses are making the leap as well. What’s surprising about that is that Windows 10 is only a year old. Historically, businesses have taken years to manage the switch to a new operating system.

The change is being seen in places that might have been expected to take a more conservative view, including the US Department of Defense and global consulting giant Accenture.

Accenture CIO Andrew Wilson told a conference audience that his department had already upgraded 100,000 of the organization’s PCs to Windows 10. And that was just the start. The company has 375,000 employees.

Wilson acknowledged that just a few years ago, he would have stood by the sidelines seeing how other enterprises fared with the switch over. Accenture waited until Windows 7 was two years old before making the changes—twice as long as it has waited to move to Windows 10.

Is upgrading to Windows 10 less risky?

For many organizations, the answer is yes.

1. Easier upgrading

Windows 10’s upgrade process has been shown to be robust enough that IT departments are running in-place upgrades instead of preferring to re-image PCs, as they would have done with earlier upgrades.

2. Fewer apps to worry about

The world of software has changed. Organizations are moving to the cloud, which means much of their software runs there. Windows 10 has benefited from a world in which the operating system is less important. Companies want their applications to run from the cloud and work across multiple platforms, let alone worrying about whether incompatibility with one operating system might hold them back.

Once upon a time, IT might have had to take years testing dozens of critical pieces of software to ensure compatibility with a new operating system. Today, it’s the browser, not the operating system, that carries the burden of being compatible. With Windows 10, you get the new Edge browser.

Combined, these factors make it easy for CIOs to consider a leap before support for Windows 7 runs out in just a few years.

Productivity benefits

With the right hardware, employees can expect better boot times, faster and smoother operations, and more frugal use of memory and disk space.

Other Windows 10 benefits:

  • File Explorer manages files better
  • Task View makes it easier to get to programs that are running
  • Microsoft has built-in virtual desktops
  • Maintenance is simpler

The holy grail

With SmartScreen, Windows Defender and encryption are easier. These are massive concerns for IT today. The headache is only going to get bigger between now and 2020. Anything that makes security easier to manage has to be considered today.

Why run an end-of-life system with growing risks when the risk profile of upgrading has altered so significantly?

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