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Softchoice: Windows 10 adoption elusive among customers

With Windows 10 having celebrated in July its first year on the market, service provider Softchoice has found a scant presence of the OS within its client base.

Softchoice’s recent study of its clients’ IT environments, which looked at more than 400,000 Windows-based devices at 169 North American organizations, revealed only 0.75% of the devices run on Windows 10. The study was the latest of several analyses the company has conducted using data drawn from its client base — the bulk of which is enterprise sized with 500-plus seats. Many of the company’s clients are recurring, allowing the company to obtain insight into clients’ changing environments over time, noted David Brisbois, senior manager of assessment and technology deployment services consulting at Softchoice, based in Toronto.

Brisbois wasn’t surprised by Windows 10’s low adoption rate. “The newest OSes are never widely adopted in the commercial space,” he said. “In most cases, there were a fair number of organizations that had a Windows 10 device or a couple Windows 10 devices, but it was less than a percentage. So it wasn’t really material to the study.”

While he cited upgraded security as one of the major reasons to move to Windows 10, he said the OS’s focus on touch-enabled interfaces hasn’t lured many customers. “I think a lot of the perception today around Windows 10 is that it’s geared toward touch interfaces. It doesn’t take long to walk around any of our clients’ sites to notice a lot of them still have monitors and laptops that are not touch enabled. So the whole idea of Windows 8 or Windows 10, which are both very small deployment numbers, isn’t very overly appealing, because [customers are] not looking at it from a security perspective.”

Another factor Brisbois attributed the lagging Windows 10 adoption is the use of web-based applications. “The OS isn’t as important in [software as a service] scenarios because you get the same functionality.”

Windows 7, meanwhile, dominated Softchoice’s client environments, with 91% of scanned devices running on the operating system, an increase from 18% in 2015.

Most organizations have standardized on Windows 7, Brisbois said, partly due to the phasing out of Windows XP. The study found Windows XP has “pretty much disappeared,” with only 5% of devices on the unsupported OS, down from 20% last year. Computers today that run Windows XP tend to be legacy terminals used for specific functions where “there’s just no need to break what’s working,” he said. Larger clients with over 5,000 seats tended to have the most Windows XP operating systems in use, while organizations between 1,000 and 5,000 seats had less. The smaller, more agile organizations were “the ones that got rid of Windows XP the fastest and [adopted] Windows 7 the quickest.”

The results of the study didn’t impact Softchoice’s current direction as a company, Brisbois said. “Personally, I don’t think there’s this huge need to get people onto [the Windows 10] OS. … I’d say our biggest opportunity that we focus on as an organization is definitely on cloud adoption, Office 365 [and] Azure. That’s where we put our effort,” he explained. “Azure’s been a great opportunity for us, and we’re going to continue to zero in on the Azure piece.”

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