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Microsoft & the New World of Computing

The advent of Windows® 10 has been a breath of fresh air for the enterprise user experience. Windows 10 has reintroduced the use of the mouse, while making the most of touch-centric device capabilities. Mobile environments – both tablet and phone – are now much more effective accessing and modifying enterprise applications (e.g. ERP, permitting).

The factors that have inhibited the widespread adoption of multi-platform computing revolve around the quality of the user experience. The Windows 7 operating system (OS) was designed for desktop environments, and lacked adequate usability for mobile devices. Another inhibitor was the substantial power drain and extensive heat generated by legacy Intel® processors. These two factors squashed the desire of mobile users to use Windows 7 tablets.

In short, Windows 7 tablets are heavy, hot, require constant recharging, and have dropdown menus that are too small to touch. Microsoft attempted to address these issues with Windows 8, however Intel had not yet developed the more efficient processors ideal for mobile devices. The introduction of Windows 10 and Intel Skylake processors has largely addressed most of the previous impediments. The resurrected Wintel (i.e. Microsoft Windows and Intel processor combination) architecture, which powered the original PC revolution, is being modernized in the form of Windows 10 Skylake tablets.

To attain this quantum transition, Microsoft and Intel have aligned to eliminate Windows 7 and 8 and announced that Microsoft will no longer provide OS updates after July 17, 2017 – except for the most critical security patches. This decision to accelerate the effective End of Life (EOL) of Windows 7 will have a substantial impact on enterprise environments since IT organizations will be forced to fully convert their fleet to Windows 10, or to forego updating their fleet and manage a break-fix environment.

Further, this world of multi-device use has motivated Microsoft to change its Enterprise Agreement (EA) pricing of the Enterprise Cloud Suite (ECS). With ECS, instead of licensing each application and OS on each device, Microsoft now offers a user based pricing model. This approach allows a user to run Microsoft products (e.g. OS, Office 365) on multiple devices and be charged as a single user. Microsoft also includes with ECS the Enterprise Mobility Suite, which adds mobile device management (MDM) capabilities to all user devices.

In addition to the personal computing environment, Microsoft will also transition server OS licensing from processors to cores. If Enterprise IT is considering an upgrade to greater capacity multicores servers, I recommend renewing the Microsoft EA before these licensing changes.

The resurrected Wintel architecture should help to provide the next advancement in enterprise computing. The evolving Microsoft application architecture (e.g. Continuum and Universal Windows Platform – UWP) allows applications to operate on any platform or device anywhere. For example, this blog was written in Microsoft Word on a Microsoft Windows 10 smartphone while at a soccer game.

Hardware providers are now beginning to implement this strategy. Products such as HP’s Elite X3, a 6-inch Windows 10 phone, can be used as three separate devices (i.e. a phone, a tablet, a PC). The X3 can be docked and used like a desktop, but just as easily undocked and used as a phone.
The demands of our times are bridging technologies to empower users in new and refreshing ways – much the same as when PC’s first were introduced.

Ernest Pages
Partner, Sciens Consulting

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