Businesses can benefit financially from the migration to Windows 10 after Microsoft ended its support for Windows 7 this week, analysts said.
Released in July 2015, Windows 10 was running on more than 800 million devices in March last year, according to the Redmond-headquartered software company. It is set to be used by more than 1.2 billion devices this year.
"Most businesses and consumers will be able to upgrade [to Windows 10] for free, so the cost implications are likely to be minimal at present," Matthew Kendall, chief telecoms analyst at The Economist Intelligence Unit, told The National. Should that situation change, the "financial consequences could be far-reaching, but for now, the risk appears to be contained", he added.
Though Microsoft officially ended the free upgrade offer in December 2017, users can still advance Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 to the latest version without paying anything.
PCs with original Windows 7 can upgrade to Windows 10 for free using the Media Creation Tool app. Users need to download and run Media Creation Tool on Windows 7 and opt for upgrading the PC to Windows 10. After that, re-connect the PC to the internet and Windows license will be changed to a Windows 10 license.
As support for Windows 7 ends, Microsoft is actively promoting Windows 10 as the main upgrade for businesses and consumers.
This is a normal Microsoft “tactic”, according to Neil Campling, co-head of Mirabaud Securities' Global Thematic Group.
"By ending support for one generation you effectively force an upset to the next generation, higher margin product. And as the company is basically the OS of the business world with scale, they can," Mr Campling told The National.
Windows 7's December market share within PCs slipped marginally to 26.6 per cent globally, according to California-based web analytics firm Net Applications. However, it will not affect Microsoft’s business as any fall will reflect in the uptake of Windows 10.
After moving to Windows 10, a company would receive more than $8 million (Dh29.4m) in overall benefits over the course of three years, said Forrester, in one of its previous research notes on Windows 10.
The US-based market research firm estimated that some of the businesses could be saving up to “$700,000 a year by enabling new security features in Windows 10 such as Credential Guard, Device Guard and BitLocker”.
Windows 10 can drive significant “cost savings, security and productivity benefits for enterprise customers”, Microsoft said in its blog.
“Enterprises that leverage the new tools in Windows 10 to deploy the updated operating system more quickly and easily than with past efforts have experienced improved boot times, application access, security and mobility.”
Industry experts say the challenge before Microsoft will be of ensuring that businesses and consumers using Windows 7 are made aware of the urgency of the upgrade.
“Windows 7 has been the operating system of preference among personal and business PC users, so there may be reluctance from some quarters… but continuing to rely on Windows 7, particularly at the enterprise level, is not an option,” added Mr Kendall.
As more businesses switched to Windows 10 in the last quarter of 2019, it also reflected in the higher sales of PCs. This was the best quarter in sales in the last two years.
Global PC shipments totalled more than 70 million units in the last three months to December 31, almost 1.5 million more than the same quarter in 2018, according to US-based research firm Gartner.
The upgrade to Windows 10 is easy and almost any PC from the last ten years should be able to support it but still many businesses will cling to its predecessors, predicted Chris Morales, head of security analytics at artificial intelligence company Vectra.
For many enterprises, they will simply sign up for Windows 7 extended security updates for the next three years of coverage, he added.
“Extended security covers anything deemed critical or important… it is true that Windows 7 will be more vulnerable to attack, I don’t think the actual impact will be catastrophic.”
Many of the potential problems could be mitigated using other tools and methods, like VPN (virtual private network), encryption, security software and a good secure home router, said Mr Morales.