It’s been 20 years since we moved from folders to the Start button to start up our workday. One generation later Windows 10 needs to answer not only if it is the best choice for business, but also the blurred lines work tech has taken with the whole world gone mobile.
I remember spending four hours in college desperately hoping my IBM 486 processor and sparse 1 GB of memory would allow me to shun folders for this new magical access point to software — what we used to call apps when data stayed in place. Since those dark desktop days of the 1990s, the devices to process and share data have become smaller in stature while growing exponentially more powerful and diversified in work capability and connectivity.
So powerful, in fact, that we procure our own tech and expect it to be accepted for light or heavy work usage. Thankfully bring-your-own-device (BYOD) and enterprise mobility management (EMM) solutions entered the lexicon of secure data delivery to keep shopping lists away from financial spreadsheets across the vast array of OS and device options.
Understanding Windows’ Current Position
Before we get into Windows 10 abilities for a more mobile-ready business environment of seamless data sharing, it would help to look at where Windows road warriors currently reside. Microsoft made headway with Windows Phone 8.1 in the mobile race, but there’s no reason to obfuscate that the foray only drew a small percentage of the mobile market.
Despite the affordability of Windows Phone and the high horsepower inside, the dominance of Apple in business and Android in the consumer market barely wavered. The mobile 80-20 (ish) flip-flop remained in place. Desktop is different, but desktops are also in a slow demise as more millennials — and pretty much everyone else — arrives at work with their own tech.
Windows 10 marks a departure from the usual Microsoft strategy with deeper inclusion and acceptance of third-party apps. As a writer for IBM, I had the good fortune to chart the mobile explosion over the past few years. Whereas the first few years of the race for mobile dominance focused on the processing power, ergonomics (think tactile keyboards) and if people “could hear you now” while talking on devices, the next leg is to be carried by apps and the full recognition that usability and access transparency for end users will be ahead of the next form factor explosion or data divination of business empowerment.
What Takes Windows 10 to the Next Level?
I recently asked Chuck Brown, IBM Product Manager for Mobile Security, to illuminate why Windows 7 ate 9 and what makes Windows 10 mightier for mobile productivity and security in business.
Q: Chuck, how will Windows 10 bolster data security for mobile users?
A: The API sets are similar to Windows 8.1, but far more inclusive with third-party data sets and extensive across devices. This is a major departure from Microsoft, showing the convergence of workflows across multiple devices and operating systems.
Windows 10 APIs create the security policies to be distributed, such as passcode locks for when devices are lost, requiring device encryption to ensure data is delivered securely and compliant with many industry regulations, allowing EMM and even permitting developer unlock.
The API will also help businesses configure the device restrictions, such as camera restrictions in labs and other sensitive areas, Cortana, location sharing and a vast array of network restrictions.
Finally, there’s more flexibility to separate and protect enterprise apps and data. This control also covers both company and personal devices without requiring changes in environments or apps.
Q: What makes Windows 10 a more “open” breath of fresh air from a desktop/laptop/Surface productivity standpoint?
A: The creation of the Universal Application allowing for one-size-fits-all builds across laptops, tablets and phones. One of the biggest challenges now for organizations is building interfaces and functionality where usability isn’t hampered when we scale down in device size or processing muscle. This could be the building of the bridge that finally helps us cross the consumerization of IT chasm created during the mobility big bang of the last few years.
On tablets we will see a combination of touch-first and legacy navigation that embraces the dual nature of working with a mouse and thumbs to operate your data rig.
And finally the Start button. I don’t think I need to say more on that.
Q: What’s the best lesson learned from Microsoft’s last mobile move?
A: Universality and the implementation on common workflows and policies via an expanded API set. It all boils down to meeting the consumer where they want to work, a lesson Microsoft seems to be taking to heart this time now that they have solidified solid device capabilities in both phones and tablets.
Q: Late into the App market, what strides do we see Windows 10 take to close the gap between competitors?
A: OneStore, a singular place to retrieve applications regardless of device. This will, of course, require Microsoft to go up against some stiff third-party competition, which is tenuous on the consumer side. In business though, this is as smart a move as the open access given to Office across all devices in 2014.
Q: As Microsoft’s Surface blurs the lines of laptop and tablet, should IT be taking any extra special care with these devices outside of normal IT best practices?
A: The same security concerns are still in effect. Microsoft is adding additional security leveraging trusted platform module (TPM), though, to help companies feel more secure with their mobile strategy for entry or expansion.
Even though there is an updated method to retrieve and apply patches (fast and slow ring), these patches must still be applied, and there will always be updates for third-party software, such as Java [and] Adobe. The Surface is a true hybrid, and with great processing muscle comes the need for greater management of the engine. Mobile device management (MDM) continues to play an integral part in these updates and possibly more so when the lines between laptop and tablet are so blurred.