In 2011, there were 1.25 billion Windows users. In 2016, we aren’t quite sure of how this figure has risen, but a tool from data analytics company GoSquared suggests that 24% of those users are now running the new Windows 10 operating system on their machine. Whilst it’s very difficult to be exact when estimating the total user count, it would be safe to assume that there are in excess of 300 million people worldwide who have downloaded Windows 10.
As we move into May, we are less than three months from the end of Microsoft’s free Windows 10 upgrade period. Since it was generally released last July, it has proved a popular replacement for the often problematic Windows 8 and Windows 8.1, yet only a quarter of the world’s Windows users are running it on their PC. So, if you’re one of those people who hasn’t upgraded, we wanted to share with you some of the most compelling reasons to take advantage of a free upgrade while you still can.
Why are Microsoft giving it away?
Windows 7, which was released in 2009 as a replacement for the unsuccessful Windows Vista, was an immensely popular operating system for PCs and laptops. Both the Home and Enterprise versions were much changed from the previous version, and an updated taskbar, faster start-up and more functional user interface were the hallmarks of a job well done for Microsoft.
However, the following iteration of a touch based Windows was something of a step backwards, and the hastily released Windows 8.1 did little to appease users who had been so fond of the usability and simplicity of Windows 7. So, when Microsoft returned to the drawing board and came back two years later with Windows 10, they knew they had ground to make up; particularly in the face of the imminent release of Apple’s OS X El Capitan operating system.
Their solution to making up for lost time was to give Windows 10 away - not just to those who had suffered in their experience of the two versions of Windows 8, but also to those who had enjoyed their experience of Windows 7, thus rewarding both disgruntled and loyal users of previous versions of Windows.
Why would Windows 7 users install another potentially unwanted operating system?
As GoSquared’s analytics of Windows users suggests, it will take more than just a free upgrade to convince people to move away from Windows 7. Such was the unpopularity of its successor, Windows 7 has remained on over half a billion PCs for longer than Microsoft would have liked, but, however friendly the interface is for Windows 7 users, there are now security concerns for those people still running the outdated software.
Windows 7 ‘mainstream support’ ended a little over four months ago, meaning that any user of the Enterprise version will be unable to gain phone or email support for the operating system. Furthermore, the end of support also means that Microsoft have stopped making any updates which do not improve the security of the operating system. The irony of continuing to use Windows 7 now is that the ending of support will gradually reduce the quality of the user’s experience, whereas the experience for Windows 10 users will continue to improve.
Moreover, Microsoft’s efforts are now focused on making Windows 10 as robust and as functional as it can be. It will receive priority for both productivity and security updates, whilst Windows 7 continues to deteriorate as it nears its eighth year since release. The chances of your machine being affected by a virus when it is running Windows 7 are significantly greater than if running Windows 10 - or even Windows 8 - and in a corporate environment, this is a dangerous chance to take.
Is the security of Windows 10 enough reason to upgrade?
Arguably, the answer is yes. In an age where major global banks such as HSBC cannot withstand an online attack, and where cyber-crime costs UK business £34 billion every year, it seems prudent to take every possible measure to make your organisation more secure. Every Windows 10 install includes Azure Rights Management, which is effectively an advanced version of BitLocker. Azure Rights Management protects organisational data by encrypting it at device level, and, much like in the Enterprise Mobility Suite, it can be customised to include policies which differentiate between organisation and personal data.
In addition, Windows 10 Pro users will receive continuous updates as soon as they are available, rather than at scheduled intervals. There is also the option for systems administrators to solve faults and incompatibilities faster, by selecting a machine to take priority for receiving an update, which should solve the issue for that particular user. Such processes in Windows 10 are all tailored towards ensuring the security of the PCs on which it is running, and come with a level of customisation which does not exist in previous Windows operating systems. Microsoft has even developed an extra level of authentication called Windows Hello, which uses unique user features such as fingerprints to identify the person attempting to sign in.
However, Windows 10 alone is unlikely to be sufficient protection for your machine against a malicious attack. The role that the operating system seeks to play is a supportive one, alongside a firewall and a secure network, which keeps individual users secure and allows them to do their work without concerns about where it will end up. Windows 10 was built with a clear goal of enhancing system security, but without sacrificing the productivity of those who use it. We think that Microsoft have achieved this aim, and have created an operating system which offers a similar experience to what users became comfortable with in Windows 7, whilst guaranteeing a level of protection that previous versions just cannot.
It’s probably everything that Windows 8 should have been.
Find out more about Windows 10 features, such as Cortana, Universal Apps and the Edge browser, by calling us today on 0208 987 1150.