Microsoft can achieve its audacious goal of 1 billion Windows 10 devices by mid-2018. That's according to new research from Spiceworks, the IT management software specialist and operator of the eponymous online community of technology professionals.
The company released a report titled Windows 10: Will It Soar? The answer, a month before the operating systems' official launch, appears to be "yes."
"A lot of people are really interested in Windows 10," Peter Tsai, IT content manager for Spiceworks, told Small Business Computing. Echoing the opinion of many IT administrators that felt stung by the release of its touch-heavy predecessor, he added that "Windows 8 was not a huge success; people kind of skipped over it."
A whopping 96 percent of respondents expressed interest in Windows 10, the report found. Sixty percent have already tested or are actively evaluating the operating system. Spiceworks surveyed 500 IT workers across North America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa for the Study. The vast majority, 89 percent, represented small and midsized businesses (999 employees or less). Small businesses (99 employees or less) technology pros accounted for 52 percent of those polled.
Much of that interest is due to a healthy dose of nostalgia. "The number one thing they're looking forward to is the return of the Start button," said Tsai.
Sixty-four percent of those surveyed cited the resurrected Start menu as the most compelling feature in Windows 10. Microsoft controversially turned the Start menu—a fixture since Windows 95—into a touch-friendly Start screen, drawing the ire of much of the Windows faithful.
Others are looking forward to upgrading their PCs with Microsoft's latest innovations, but without having to spend a cent.
A Free Windows 10 Upgrade
"The free offer is sparking tons of interest," Tsai said.
Good news for small businesses with tight IT budgets. Windows 10 will be available as a free upgrade for Windows 7 and 8.x devices for up to a year after the July 29 release. Fifty-five percent of respondents said the offer was the most persuasive feature, while 63 percent said it made them more likely to upgrade. Tsai described Microsoft's free offer as "really big," adding that "everybody likes free."
However, not all business users will be able to jump on the deal. SMBs that rely on the Enterprise edition's advanced capabilities should take heed.
"The offer of a free upgrade doesn't apply to the Enterprise version of Windows 10, which many will want for its advanced features. However, many Enterprise volume license users will qualify for upgrade rights at no additional charge through the Software Assurance Program, even after the free offer period expires," noted the report.
Windows 10 Offers New Perks
The survey takers were also looking forward to the operating system's enhanced security (51 percent) and multi-desktop support (33 percent). It is also possible to upgrade to the new version via Windows Update (39 percent like that feature), vastly simplifying the process of deploying the operating system for SMBs with limited IT resources and personnel.
All told, 40 percent plan to roll out Windows 10 in its first year. Another 33 percent said they plan to start their deployments within two years.
Despite the bullish outlook, concerns linger. Seventy-nine percent of respondents cited hardware and software compatibility—things that can ruin a small business owner's day—as a cause for worry. Other factors including early release bugs (65 percent), user training (59 percent) and a lag in third-party support (51 percent) also ranked high.
Nonetheless, Windows 10 stands a good chance of unseating the current desktop OS champ. "Windows 10 can even be bigger than Windows 7," Tsai said.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Small Business Computing. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.
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