Half of all enterprises to start Windows 10 rollouts in the next year

The rate of adoption may outpace that of Windows 7 and Windows 8

Half of all enterprises will have at least started their roll-outs of Windows 10 by January 2017, according to a Gartner report released Monday, suggesting the OS is on track for rapid adoption.

The prediction is based on significant interest that Gartner analyst Steve Kleynhans has seen during conversations with clients about their plans. While enterprises are known for taking their time with software updates, Kleynhans says they're moving fast with Windows 10.

"I've stopped being surprised when I talk to customers now and they tell me how fast they're moving," he said in an interview. "Six months ago, I was completely shocked when I talked to customers and they'd tell me they're planning on getting started right away, and now it's just the norm for our customers."

That interest is driven by a few key factors, the first of which is recent experiences migrating from Windows XP. According to Kleynhans, companies found that experience so painful that they want to get started on a new migration as quickly as possible, since Microsoft has been very clear that Windows 7's end of life is in 2020.

But there's a wrinkle to all that: Kleynhans says transitioning to Windows 10 is easier than making the switch from Windows XP to Windows 7, so companies evaluating the new operating system are finding it easier to just drop the OS into an existing Windows 7 environment.

Kleynhans also said that there's a small amount of pent-up demand for new devices like touchscreen laptops and business-class Windows tablets. Windows 10 has reinvigorated businesses that were previously stymied by having to use Windows 8 if they wanted to roll out those devices.

"They looked at those [devices] and said 'Yeah, those would be great,' and then they ran headlong into Windows 8. And [they] realized that to roll out those nifty new devices, [they] needed to roll out Windows 8, and that just was a non-starter."

That's not to say Microsoft's new operating system is a slam dunk. Kleynhans said that every major organization has to contend with developing a strategy for dealing with the ongoing cumulative updates Microsoft is pushing to its new operating system. While the decision to require cumulative updates has caused consternation among IT professionals, Kleynhans thinks that enterprises will be able to handle it okay.

"Companies by and large initially were very concerned about it, now that they're looking at it a little closer, they're starting to develop some thoughts about how to deal with it and some processes are starting to gel on how they'll handle those kinds of updates," he said. "And I think by the time organizations are ready to start real deployments in 2016 and early 2017, they'll have a process and they'll feel fairly comfortable about how they're going to handle those updates."

If businesses live up to Gartner's expectations, Windows 10's uptake in the enterprise will outpace the adoption for both Windows 7 and Windows 8. Microsoft has said that it expects to have 1 billion devices running Windows 10 within 3 years, and this new report would seem to indicate that's getting closer to the company's grasp.

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