The Big Day Is Here: Microsoft Partners Are Pumped For The Windows 10 Launch

Microsoft is launching Windows 10 on Wednesday, and partners are hopeful new features, including security enhancements, will drive enterprise adoption.

One of the leading enhancements partners point to is security -- two-factor authentication support, data loss prevention and the ability for IT managers to encrypt corporate apps, emails, data and other content. Partners say Windows 10 delivers beefed up security features demanded by businesses in an age of sophisticated cyberthreats.

"It's exciting for both Microsoft and partners especially because it has so many innovative features in security," said David Geevaratne, president of New Signature, a system integrator and Microsoft partner based in Washington, D.C. "The enhanced security features will make the operating system more resilient against malicious software, giving the end user a more secure experience, especially browsing."

[Related: Windows 10 Pros and Cons For The Channel]

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Windows 10 is officially shipping on new desktop and laptop systems that are being launched Wednesday by a number of vendors, including Hewlett-Packard and Dell. A smartphone and tablet version of the operating system will be released later this year.

The new operating system is the first from Microsoft that will be automatically updated via the Web. Faced with a mounting uproar over forcing software and driver updates to Windows 10 devices, Microsoft appears to have reversed course with the introduction of a tool that allows beta Windows 10 users to block updates to the OS.

For Windows 10 Pro and Enterprise, Microsoft has introduced Windows 10 Update for Business. This update releases software patches and security updates in a three-tier distribution ring -- fast, moderate and slow. Partners can choose which PCs are updated the fastest and if a PC will receive an update at all.

As for 2-in-1 devices, the operating system will use its new Continuum feature to switch from "mobile mode" when the Surface Pro 3, for example, is being used as a tablet, or "laptop mode" when the device is connected to the keyboard and used as a desktop machine.

Douglas Grosfield, president and CEO of Xylotek Solutions, a Cambridge, Ontario-based solution provider and Microsoft partner, said he believes the cross-platform compatibility of Windows 10 will allow third-party app developers to build more apps for Windows 10, thus expanding Microsoft's lagging mobile ecosystem.

"Apps have always been one of the Achilles' heels with Microsoft," he said. "They aren’t alone, as BlackBerry has suffered there too. The number of apps available has always been a lame duck when you compare it to the Google app store and the Apple app Store. Cross-platform continuity on Windows 10, on your tablet, desktop laptop, smartphone, provides the ability to have a lot shorter time to market for the developer. They don’t have to focus their time, as they can develop the app in a cross-platform fashion. They don’t have to port the application over to a mobile device or what have you. Apps will become available quicker."

Microsoft partners says end users are thirsty for a new operating system, as the adoption rate of Windows 8 was hampered by a touch-screen interface that was never widely adopted by users.

Windows 8.1 has just 13 percent market share, while Windows 7 is still the most popular Windows OS, with 61 percent market share, according to analytics firm Net Applications of Irvine, Calif. Windows XP, meanwhile, is still being used by 12 percent of users despite Microsoft's ending support for it in April 2014, according to Net Applications.

"Windows 10 certainly is a big departure from [Microsoft's] past, as they're trying to make up for the mess that was Windows 8," Xylotek Solutions' Grosfield said. "Touch-screen capabilities is a tough thing for Microsoft to perfect. Touch or tablet capabilities are staying in Windows 10, but having the old start menu back is a big feature that was removed from Windows 8. That was a limiting factor. Finding things was tougher."

Another feature that partners are excited about is the improved Windows 10 version of Cortana, Microsoft's digital assistant and answer to Siri on iOS, and Google Now on Android. What's interesting about Cortana is that because it is on Windows 10, it will be accessible on PCs and laptops in addition to mobile devices. Additionally, partners boast that its capabilities and usefulness are unmatched by the competition.

"If Cortana is a teenager, then Siri is a toddler. It is not even close in my opinion what one is able to do compared to the other," said Ric Opal, vice president at Peters & Associates, a Microsoft partner in Oakbrook Terrace, Ill. "The platform to be on for productivity is Microsoft, bar none. I don’t see anyone with the completeness that Microsoft has. … I suspect adoption will be very high for Windows 10."