Windows 10 presents an important step forward in Microsoft's cloud strategy and shows just how far work at the company’s Redmond campus has come in a short time.
Given what we know about Windows 10, what could a cloud-based OS mean for businesses in the future?
The end of traditional software refreshes
For anyone working in or around business and enterprise IT, a new Windows launch every few years is just part of life. From Windows 95 on, every launch got glitzier than the last while the commentariat held forth at length as to whether each release would be a flop or not. As long as Microsoft has gotten the operating system (OS) right, this will all come to an end with Windows 10.
The OS is widely touted as the last major Windows launch ever – future upgrades will be automatic and happen at regular intervals. Many have also predicted that Windows customers will eventually become subscribers, rather than licence holders. As with Office 365, users may pay a subscription and automatically receive new iterations of the desktop OS. Upgrades to other devices such as tablets, phones and Xboxes may well remain free.
Lower support costs with common desktop
A cloud-based operating system would make it much easier to support flexible work arrangements.
Employees would be able to access their system wherever there's a secure internet connection and get the same user experience irrespective of location. They wouldn’t even need to use a company-supplied device.
Increasing numbers of companies are allowing and even encouraging employees to bring their own device (BYOD). Having a central cloud-based OS will make it simpler for these workers to access their personal settings and data anywhere, from any device, without compromising corporate data and IP.
Fewer licensing headaches
While this represents a major departure for Microsoft, it offers some advantages for home users and businesses. One of the main changes is a move away from licensing software on devices towards a pay-per-user model, which we have seen already with Microsoft’s changes to its enterprise licensing model. This would save businesses from purchasing licences that would be wasted later and avoids the issue of licensing multiple devices.
It’s quite common for someone to own a smartphone, a tablet and a work‑supplied laptop, as well as a personal computer for home use. Costs add up pretty quickly if you’re paying to upgrade each device, which is why a lot of people and businesses don’t bother. This approach saves on licensing but adds to support costs as OS versions progress.
Not that long ago, it was possible that someone could have Windows XP on their home computer, Windows 7 on their work desktop and Windows 8.1 on a tablet or laptop. If Windows 10 evolves into a true cloud-based operating system, it will lead to big savings on support costs because every employee will be using the same OS, allowing IT to easily support, configure and manage everyone’s systems centrally.
Given what we know about Windows 10, it could mark the beginning of a simpler, more streamlined OS era for businesses and consumers alike.