Why Some Solution Providers Are Cautious About Windows 10

As Microsoft whips Windows 10 excitement into a lather, solution providers are taking a more subdued approach. A number of solution providers contacted by CRN say they aren't willing to take any chances rolling out the new operating system until they know the waters are safe.

"Microsoft makes a compelling case with Windows 10, but our customers -- who are still stuck on Windows 7 -- are still leery about Windows 8. Windows 10 is still an unknown quantity," said one federal and state solution provider who asked not to be identified. "Our customers aren't making a move to Windows 10 anytime soon."

Starting Aug.1, Microsoft's volume licensing customers, which include enterprises and other large organizations, can download Windows 10 Enterprise and Windows 10 Education from the Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC). Most OEMs already have Windows 10 and are shipping systems with the new OS on day one.

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But Windows 10 -- being an unknown quantity -- is not the only thing working against the OS, according to some solution providers.

Two things are preventing Windows 10 from being a moneymaker, said Todd Swank, senior director of product marketing at Equus, a systems builder based in Minnetonka, Minn. On one hand, the OS will be a free upgrade for his customers. Secondly, the upgrade to Windows 10 will allow most companies to use existing hardware without the need for upgrading internal components.

Secondly, Swank said, thanks to myriad cloud services and applications, Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 are just fine for now. "Can users get what they need done with Windows 7? Absolutely," Swank said. "Businesses will migrate to Windows 10, but for now most IT managers are saying, 'If it's not broke, don't fix it,' " he said.

So when do solution providers expect to feel a bump from Windows 10?

Some say they don't expect a large uptick in business until Microsoft's OS has proven itself in the consumer and other markets.

"The larger the business, the more conservative approach they are going to take to upgrading and replacing their systems to Windows 10. After all, Microsoft has a track record that is not very good when it comes to launching OSes," said Joe Lore, sales director of at Sunnytech, a Lenovo partner based in Woburn, Mass.

On the bright side, he said, Windows 10 will drive sales of new systems and be the catalyst many companies need to finally drive a stake in the heart of their XP machines.

"Upgrading PCs is one part of a larger process for companies. Windows 10 upgrades will force companies to look at other parts of their infrastructure," said Larry Velez, CTO and founder of Sinu, a New York-based MSP partnering with Hewlett-Packard, Dell and Lenovo. "Maybe it's an ERP program, storage strategy, or networking -- companies bunch up the pain and like to get all their upgrades over with at one time."

One of the big hesitations with Windows 10 is Microsoft's new approach to delivering Service Packs. For businesses and consumers, Microsoft will replace Patch Tuesday and Service Packs with continuous updates that patch, fix and update Windows 10.

Specifically for Windows 10 Enterprise and Pro users, Microsoft introduced Windows Update for Business, which is a free option that delivers updates in distribution rings. Rings include fast, normal and slow to never. "IT pros can specify which devices go first in an update wave, and which ones will come later [to ensure any quality kinks are worked out]," according to Microsoft.

Businesses have always been leery about when and how Microsoft delivers patches and fixes out of fear their systems might break should a fix not be compatible with existing hardware and software. "We're still waiting to hear more about Windows Update for Business," Velez said. "We don't want to be surprised."

This article originally appeared as an exclusive on the CRN Tech News App for iOS and Windows 8.