The features enterprises do adopt are the security enhancements in Windows 10. “They’re really intrigued by the new security capabilities; they're looking forward to those. That's one of the things driving Windows 10 adoption,” says Kleynhans.
Dewar agrees that security is driving the fast pace of adoption. “There's such a focus now on the threat landscape. From a commercial customer’s point of view, not a day goes by without some sort of information loss or hacking incident. In Europe, you’ve got new regulations coming from the EU, so there’s a lot of focus on that area.”
And enterprises are looking forward to more security features in the upcoming Creators Update (scheduled for release on April 11), Dewar says, including support for Windows Hello. “They [enterprises] can see a big reduction in help desk inquires around password resets, and there’s not having people write their password down.” Originally, Hello only worked with Microsoft accounts and Azure Active Directory, but with the Creators Update you can use it with your on-premises Active Directory.
There has also been a lot of interest in Microsoft’s post-breach security analysis service Windows Defender Advance Threat Protection, which will get some improvements in the Creators Update. Dewar says over 1,000 organizations have piloted it and moved on to active deployment, even though it only became available in September 2016 and required the then-new Anniversary Update. “In Creators Update we’ve improved the agent technology in the client, so it can detect in-memory attacks, and it’s instrumented more deeply into the kernel.” Windows ATP will also be connected to the Office Graph, so if it finds a threat that came in by email that malicious file will automatically be blocked across the organization.
Security is such a concern, in fact, that it’s upset typical enterprise IT habits. “What we’ve always seen before in OS adoptions is two kinds of customers: there's those that move quickly and there's those that are usually slower and wait for what they consider to be production ready,” says Dewar.
An organization like professional services company Accenture that wants to give its “highly empowered information workers" the latest tools and capabilities would always have been a fast mover. They have more than 150,000 Windows 10 devices deployed, which Dewar suggests is the largest single deployment so far. But they’re not as far ahead as they would once have been.
More cautious customers in financial services, health and government would typically have been slow to adopt a new OS, sometimes waiting years. “However, those are also the very same customers that are the most security conscious, and this time around we’ve seen a big difference. What would previously have been laggard customers are moving as fast as the early adopters, because the security posture that comes with Windows 10 and the capabilities they’re interested in require them to move, and they’ve got a real desire to go after that better security posture,” Dewar says.
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