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Windows Switches to Subscription-Based, as-a-Service Model

Windows Switches to Subscription-Based, as-a-Service Model

How CIOs and IT Teams Can Prepare for the Transition

May 26, 2015

For anyone familiar with the process of upgrading Windows (i.e. assembling a big team every few years for an equally big upgrade at an even bigger cost) – it’s time to prepare for change.

From the very first Windows software released in 1985 to the current Windows 10, Microsoft has traditionally released new versions of their Windows operating system as major overhauls every few years.

Now, in early May of 2015, Microsoft announced plans to begin offering its Windows operating system as a service.

Microsoft will be working with CIOs and IT teams to help manage the transition, offering tools for IT teams to specify the order of device updates, for example. In addition, Windows Server Update Services and other tools are being updated this month to make sure they’re compatible with Windows 10.*

However, CIOs and IT organizations will have to change the way they think about updates, creating processes to manage updates on an ongoing basis.


What Will Change for CIOs

Essentially, Windows will now be offered based upon a subscription model, which will have varied effects among organizations utilizing the software.

Here’s what to expect for CIOs and IT teams as this change is implemented in the business world. Note that incorporating more change management across the organization will help in the following areas.


First of all, it’s likely that CIOs won’t be able to test every application in their company before every small upgrade. Instead, they should prioritize what needs to be tested ahead of time, leaving less important things to be tested in production.*

That means determining the most important aspects of these upgrades, such as security – a hot topic in the business world as cyberattacks and poor security practices run rampant.

Time Management

CIOs and IT teams will also find themselves much shorter on time. This means reducing formal lab tests and instead implementing more pilot tests, releasing applications on a small scale and then moving up from there.

To save time, experts also suggest creating a plan to ensure application and version compatibility going forward.


CIOs should be prepared to handle the inevitable changes that will come from transitioning to a subscription model.

In other words, finances will have to be adjusted from a fixed-cost model (when the large Windows upgrades had fairly predictable budgets) to a more variable model.

Upgrade Processes

Obviously, this change will force CIOs to revisit deployment practices for company-wide incremental upgrades.

For companies who have maintained machine standardization, this transition will become easier; for others, CIOs must decide how the Windows upgrades will change their own deployment practices—if they choose to change anything at all, considering that the upgrade to Windows 10 will itself be a huge project.*

Experts recommend taking a page from existing security patching processes within companies. If applied to the Windows update process, these practices could smooth the transition.


What Will Change for CIOs

The rise of cloud computing has changed expectations about the speed of service delivery, forcing IT organizations to re-think their development, testing and deployment strategies.*

The goal of this change, according to Microsoft, is to bring new innovations and updates in an ongoing manner to more effectively keep up with the fast-paced tech world.

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* Norton, Steven. Windows as a Service Signals Big Process Changes for CIOs, The Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company, Inc.