Windows 10 Pro not suitable for enterprise, says Gartner

By shortening support terms for Windows 10 Pro, Microsoft seeks to force users onto Enterprise licenses.
5 June 2018

Microsoft Office might not be so private. Source: Shutterstock.

Gartner released a report in April this year which opined that Microsoft is repositioning Windows 10 Pro as a “prosumer” product, leaving its business customers little choice than to move to Windows 10 Enterprise for their desktop operating system.

While there has been no specific statement to that effect from Redmond, the company’s changes to its upgrade and support policies imply that enterprise users wishing to continue to stay safe – among other advantages – would need to switch.

One of the Gartner report’s authors, Stephen Kleynhams, predicted that: “[…] Microsoft will continue positioning Windows Pro as a release that is not appropriate for enterprises by reducing […] support[,] and limiting access to enterprise management features.”

Apart from the several iterations of Windows specifically-aimed at devices such as mobile or IoT, Windows 10 desktop deployments run in three main strands.

Windows 10 Home lacks some networking capability and, for instance, the ability to join a domain.

Windows 10 Pro adds those functions among others and is more suited to the networked environment of the workplace.

Most business-oriented Windows PCs come with the Windows 10 Pro variant pre-installed by the manufacturer or vendor.

Windows 10 Enterprise is only available from Microsoft and is usually deployed by cloning pre-set images onto a new kit.

There is also a version of Enterprise designed for educational organizations.

When Microsoft releases updates, deployment is often automatic and usually mandatory for all users except those operating under LTSB (long-term servicing branch) or SAC (semi-annual channel) support terms.

LTSB is designed to support environments where Windows systems deployments are mission-critical. Everyone else gets updated more or less as directed by Redmond.

Updates are numbered and sometimes become known in Windows circles by catchy little names: Windows 10 1511 is known as the “November 2015” update, for example.

Last year Microsoft announced an extension of to 24 months’ support to versions 1511, 2609, 1703 and 1709, up from the usual 18 months. But the additional six months only applied to Windows 10 Enterprise (and Education) systems.

For example, Windows 10 Enterprise 1709’s support will expire in October 2019. But Windows 10 Pro 1709 will stop receiving updates & patches from Microsoft in April 2019. The Gartner report stated:

“Customers currently using Windows 10 Pro should continue to monitor Microsoft’s lifecycle announcements because they will eventually need to budget for Windows Enterprise as Windows Pro becomes more ‘pro-sumer’ and small-business oriented.”

Microsoft has also stopped offering paid-for support options to Windows 10 Pro users.

Its “paid supplemental servicing” which extends support by a year over the “standard” 18 months is only available for Enterprise and Education customers – prices have yet to be disclosed.

Microsoft’s install base is gradually changing from its ubiquity on enterprise desktops just a few years – Mac OS for end-users is becoming more popular, especially in the US, for example.

Across the world, Windows still dominates, but Windows 7 remains fiercely popular still, especially in Asia and Africa.

The company is now pushing its cloud services, as well as Windows-as-a-service for higher-end enterprises and XaaS-type offerings across a range of markets.

Globally, Google effectively owns the OS market, thanks to the popularity of its Android operating system on phones, and Microsoft quietly retired its aim, quoted on its release, for a billion Windows 10 users – the OS is now thought to be found on 400 million devices and falling.

Because unpatched operating systems and legacy software are two of the primary ways in which hackers can exploit systems with malware, remaining up to date with the latest releases is the first thing that’s considered essential by any provider of cyber security advice.

The company’s refusal to grant further updates is, therefore, a long-term form of blackmail, but one that’s no surprise: cross-grade to Windows Enterprise or take the (security) risk.