Nick's Notes


Microsoft tell us that Windows 10 will be available from the end of July. They have also added to many Windows 7 and 8 computers a widget inviting you to get into the queue for downloads. My advice would be to wait.

In my long experience of managing Windows on desktops and laptops upgrading the operating system beyond the depressingly regular patches is not worth the hassle. The usual advice about taking backups applies of course, but it is usually better to do a clean install – or buy a new computer. Given the complexity of the Windows world with the plethora of hardware vendors, you need to be sure that the drivers have been updated, and that they work nicely together. It is surprisingly easy to have a unique combination of hardware and software; so assume that your combination won’t have been explicitly tested.

Normally – unless you are a geek or adrenaline junkie – the advice is to wait for the first “dot” version or even service pack. But Microsoft have said that Windows 10 will be the last version of Windows. Clearly there will be patches and in place upgrades to come, but it will be hard to know when the right time is to move across. And that in itself signals a new world for Windows users. Let’s hope Microsoft have got the infrastructure in place for those upgrades. Right now it is ridiculous to force patches on a user who has signaled their intent to do something else by shutting down. It shows the same lack of respect as installing unwanted reminder software to upgrade, and is a revealing trait.

Given that Microsoft doesn’t really see itself as a consumer company, I understand, but don’t yet have the details, that the enterprise agreements will allow for synchronized upgrading. Or maybe not. I recently visited a CIO who was proud to tell me that they were now over 80% compliant in applying patches – previously users had done all they could to avoid the challenge before IT found a way to stop that. If the operating system is being upgraded rather than being patched it will be helpful for that to be done in a controlled way.

I shall watch all of this with interest and some detachment. It is now getting on for 5 years since I moved to 10. OS X of course. As a technically minded individual, developer and ex-CIO it was a revelation to me. It really does just work. And although Apple have come under a bit of fire recently with the quality of their latest version – OS X 10.10 – partly because they are on an insane annual major upgrade cycle, it continues to work. Quickly on a Mac you get to understand that software respects your choices – unlike on Windows – and it becomes all the more unacceptable when a web site, for example, decides to put a full screen overlay on your device. In the end it is all about the experience.

In an upcoming article for the CIO Connect magazine we explore “shadow IT”. A recent study by Canopy – the cloud company owned by ATOS – suggests that a large proportion of “shadow IT” could be brought back into the corporate IT fold if the experience of working with IT, and the tools in place were better.

My feeling is that Microsoft have got a massive catch up exercise to deliver the same experience that Apple strive for. Nothing I’ve seen or read suggests they understand that. As more people realise how important the experience is – and get a better experience from their own choices at home – the pressure for a similar experience at work increases, giving the CIO another challenge.

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