Microsoft's latest Windows 10 push may leave IT seeing red

Exposing the Get Windows 10 app to business users provides an easy upgrade path potentially rife with landmines

Microsoft's latest Windows 10 push may leave IT seeing red
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Microsoft is proud of its Windows 10 rollout around the globe, recently claiming 200 million devices currently run the latest OS. That's not too surprising, considering it gave Windows 10 away to folks running Windows 7 and 8/8.1 Home or Pro, and I would assume most people running Windows 8 would be more than happy to jump forward.

Microsoft has also made it easy for consumers to upgrade through its Get Windows 10 app, and Microsoft recently announced it will be putting that same app on enterprise systems. New systems that will see the app include the following:

  • Systems running licensed Windows 7 Pro or Windows 8.1 Pro
  • Systems configured to receive updates from the Windows Update service
  • Systems joined to an Active Directory domain

Microsoft claims to have made this move based on "ongoing requests from many small businesses and other small organizations to easily take advantage of the free upgrade." On the surface, I can see some organizations wanting the Get Windows 10 app as easy means for upgrades their users. However, while it may benefit small businesses, having the Windows 10 upgrade app put before users is probably not the best solution for all organizations.

Of course, Microsoft recognizes this, and within the above-mentioned announcement, the company explains that IT admins can follow support article KB 3080351 to use group policy settings and keep the app from showing up where they don't want it. Microsoft also points out that the app will not show up for Windows 7 and 8 "enterprise" users, meaning that larger organizations won't be affected. In addition, most larger organizations don't use Windows Update, instead managing updates through an onsite tool, such as WSUS or System Center Configuration Manager. In those cases, again, the Windows 10 upgrade app won't show up.

I don't blame Microsoft for trying to get Windows 10 on as many systems as possible. It's a great OS (the best Windows in my opinion), it helps get rid of the stigma of Windows 8, and it's the company's future. So why not give Microsoft a free pass to dump the past and push for the future? 

Because not everyone is having a rosy time of Windows 10. In fact, I know of a number of folks who are having issues with Windows 10 and their existing software. For example, the TechSmith Camtasia forums have lit up with comments about issues with Camtasia Studio and Windows 10. I was one such customer, so I called TechSmith support, only to be told it was a "Microsoft issue" and there was nothing the company could do to help me. Good thing I still had a Windows 8 system to work on my video edits.

Therein lies the rub. If you put a shiny "upgrade me" app in front of a user and there is no IT department to tell them, "Don't do it, we haven't tested everything yet," they may upgrade without knowing if their applications will continue to perform as before. Yes, I know that at the core Windows 10 isn't all that different from Windows 7 and 8.1 and that all applications should be able to function, but experience has made me leery.

Small businesses may appreciate the easy upgrade path, but if you don't jump in and make the group policy fixes to prevent users from clicking their way to Windows 10, you may end up with Windows 10 systems faltering through untested scenarios. While that may work out fine in the end, it's always better to thoroughly test your software on a new OS before ceding control of upgrades to your users. That's where this aggressive move from Microsoft might not be appreciated by all.

Personally, I'd also be a bit curious to see if Microsoft decided the numbers weren't going up fast enough and decided to open up the Get Windows 10 app to Windows 7 and 8.1 enterprise users. IT folks may be quick on the draw to block it through Group Policy but not before a few in their organization pull the trigger. Oh well, could be worse. It could be a Get Windows 8 app!

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