A few weeks ago, Windows vice president Yusuf Mehdi cited a statistic that's been bothering me.
While speaking at Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference 2016 in Toronto, Mehdi said that "96 per cent of our enterprise accounts are already in pilots", following this with the observation that "this is fantastic because this year they want to deploy broadly and they're going to need help to get that deployment".
At the same conference, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said:
I've spent almost a month trying to get to the bottom of both these claims - what Nadella meant by the "in earnest" part, and exactly what Mehdi's 96 per cent stat meant, when it wasn't attached to a figure to back it up, not to mention a figure covering front line, business-as-usual rollout of Windows 10 (if any).
I do not know a single IT manager who has rolled out Windows 10 for the "earnest adoption cycle" and what Mehdi's 96 per cent actually means. So far, while Microsoft's media contacts have been as friendly and pleasant as ever, my queries have been disappearing into black holes.
I am thus left to make my own judgements. Statistics from Microsoft say over 350 million active users are now running Windows 10 globally. I'd wager that's nearly all consumer, due to the largely unavoidable nature of downloading the OS on a consumer machine.
Netmarketshare only yesterday published figures to say Windows 10 has now passed the 20 per cent global usage mark. Windows 7 still has 47 per cent, though.
Little or none of the above, I'd guess, are registered enterprise users. IT departments just aren't going there – voluntarily at least.
In our own IT department here at Incisive Media, there's definitely been some Windows 10 action in the past year - isolated systems sitting on desks while our IT staff have a fiddle around with them over lunch. Rollout is years away.
And so we tackle this "96 per cent". If 96 per cent are trialling, we can probably safely assume four per cent aren't bothering at all. And beyond that, rollout - I'd safely say - is sitting at around the zero per cent mark.
I just don't understand why Microsoft won't be transparent about all this. I asked a simple, innocent question, and telling me directly that nobody is rolling it out in the enterprise yet would hardly be an admission of failure. I strongly disagree that "this year they want to deploy it broadly", but I'm also not going to call Windows 10 a calamity because a year down the line nobody's using it.
I suppose, going back to the Netmarketshare figures, the past failure of Windows 8 to infiltrate the enterprise (since launch, I encountered only one non-Microsoft partner customer who was going with total Windows 8 rollout across the estate before Windows 10 arrived) could be a concern to Microsoft, and a blot on its ego.
I'm going to be conducting some research with IT departments and end users in the near future to see if I can start cracking at least the UK situation on Windows 10, but suffice to say - a year after launch - I really don't believe it's making a dent on the enterprise. I reviewed the Anniversary Update over on The Inquirer, and the major additions - nicer stylus support, a new Skype app and better consumer custom web browser plugins - don't seem to have much for the enterprise.
I'm not calling Microsoft out as such, but if it wants to portray a happy and successful enterprise story, the company would do well to offer up statistics that make sense and maybe one or two customers to bang the drum. Otherwise, I think the prospect of large-scale 2016 adoption is laughable at best.
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