Windows 10 Adoption: The ‘Y2K 2.0’ Government Software Opportunity for Federal Agencies
When Microsoft updated its Windows 7 operating system (OS) to Windows 8 in 2012, the combination of a controversial new interface and a lack of perceived benefit left federal agencies flat. Most chose to skip the government software upgrade cycle entirely and focus on more pressing needs.
As Windows 10 enters its second year of existence with a more familiar interface, a host of tangible benefits and a tailwind of widespread critical acclaim, many federal agencies are re-evaluating their government software upgrade stance and looking closely at the possibility of migrating to Windows 10 in the next fiscal year or two.
Government software gains 4 clear advantages from Windows 10.
Greatly improved security suite — Information security is the No. 1 concern among nearly all federal agencies today, and Windows 10 delivers a powerful suite of security features designed to work in concert with the device it resides on to protect the device, data and connected systems.
In a February 2016 blog post, Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft’s corporate vice president for the Windows and Devices Group, outlined the most important security features for federal agencies:
- Windows Hello and Microsoft Passport — With Windows 10, agencies can move beyond the limitations of the simple password, identifying individuals through integrated multifactor authentication using biometric mechanisms like facial recognition and fingerprints.
- Enhanced threat resistance and device security — Federal agencies that use PCs and devices with integrated Trusted Platform Module (TPM) crypto-processor chips can take advantage of enhanced features like:
- Secure Boot helps prevent malware from embedding itself within hardware or starting before the OS.
- Trusted Boot maintains the integrity of the rest of the operating system.
- Device Guard ensures only signed applications and code can run on the device.
- Credential Guard safeguards credentials inside a hardware-based virtualized environment and breaks the popular “pass the hash” used in many major breaches.
- Windows Defender — An anti-malware service that currently protects nearly 300 million Windows devices.
- Enterprise Data Protection — This feature, currently in testing with enterprise customers, separates corporate and personal data and prevents corporate data from being copied out of corporate files to non-corporate files and locations.
- Many devices, one OS — When Windows 8 launched, hardware fell into discrete categories: PCs, tablets and smartphones, with a version of Windows 8 optimized for each. Windows 10 greatly streamlines and simplifies the landscape by offering just one OS version for all enterprise devices: desktops, laptops, tablets and the growing universe of hybrids like Microsoft’s own Surface 3 that blur the line between traditional PCs and tablets.
Familiar interface for a smooth migration path — From an end-user perspective, Windows 10 does away with most of the controversial elements from Windows 8’s “Metro” interface, replacing them with a traditional Start button and other cues familiar to regular users of Windows 7 and earlier.
These small but simple changes greatly reduce the need for employee training and change management, improving user acceptance and maintaining productivity throughout the crucial early stages of a new OS rollout.
Less focus on maintenance, greater focus on innovation — In many IT organizations, both public and private, up to 80% of the total IT budget is devoted to maintenance of legacy systems, leaving precious little for actual development activity. The only real way to make lasting change is to modernize and streamline the legacy environment.
A Windows 10 migration gives federal IT teams that rare opportunity to do just that — streamline the legacy environment. It creates what one federal IT leader called a “Y2K opportunity” to refresh hardware, and modernize the OS and software portfolio at the same time, creating a less complex IT environment to manage.
That in turn allows valuable resources to be diverted away from maintenance, and support activities toward innovation and the development of new tools and applications that meet the changing needs of the agency and workforce — all while staying one step ahead of the evolving federal guidelines for security and software spending.
With Windows 7 reaching its extended end-of-life date in January 2020, Windows 10 offers a compelling government software migration opportunity for federal agencies. Its combination of features, security, consistency and a pared-down menu of versions to choose from (and support) makes it highly attractive for federal agencies looking for a highly-secure and rock-solid OS that can meet the needs of the modern workforce.
To learn more and discover best practices for taking advantage of an OS migration to streamline your software portfolio, download our free whitepaper, “Windows 10 Adoption: Best Practices for Federal Agencies.”