Windows 10 is a dead end for most companies, Gartner analyst Stephen Kleynhans said in an interview with Computerworld last year. “Absolutely a dead end,” he repeats even more firmly after he stated last year with Gartner colleague Michael Server that Windows 10 Pro, the version that was traditionally preinstalled on most business PCs – will not work for most business environments.
Second Class Citizen
Microsoft has long argued that Enterprise is the only version for companies, and Pro’s status as a second-class citizen was emphasized once again when Microsoft offered longer Windows 10 support to Enterprise customers. “What particularly surprised me about the added support,” Kleynhans said last year when Microsoft extended Windows 10 support to two years, “is that it does not apply to Pro. I think this is a clear signal that for companies Windows is 10 Pro should not be an option. ”
Now he says: “If you have a very small organization, your needs are not that great and you may not need PC management. In that case, Windows 10 Pro is suitable for SMEs, such as a small store or doctor’s office. But if you have an IT department or need centralized management, it is difficult to maintain that Pro is suitable for that.”
Hole Enterprise and Pro Bigger
The biggest problem with Windows 10 Pro is support. Just a few months before Kleynhans and Silver advised companies that Pro was unsuitable, Microsoft had added six months of support to then recent Windows 10 Enterprise updates, 1609, 1703, and 1709 ,. Strangely enough, the then most recent version, 1803, did not get that extension to 24 months.
Since then, Microsoft has made that gap between Pro and Enterprise even bigger. In September last year, the software maker announced that version 1809 would even get 30 months of support for Enterprise, not the 18 months that Pro has to do with. The spring update will continue for 18 months, also for Enterprise. That is why the business version is the only Windows 10 edition with a split maintenance period: 18 months in the JJ03 version, 30 months in the JJ09.
The impact of that changed support model was immediately clear. Although the roll-out of upgrades can be reduced to one per year with Pro, that is very tight and that provides risks and little flexibility for companies. There is little margin for error, both on the part of Microsoft when it comes to meeting release deadlines and a company testing the new rollout with pilots.
Parties that use Windows 10 Enterprise, on the other hand, have much more freedom of movement with that 30-month support. They can start rolling out sometime in those first twelve months and still let staff work on that version for a year. IT departments that are very brave or have extensive experience with flexible deployment could even do one every two years – provided they are convinced that Microsoft is meeting its own deadlines.
Pro Doesn’t Deliver Much
What we have not discussed yet is that Microsoft has no reason to improve Windows 10 Pro in such a way that it can be used as an OS within organizations. The distinction between the two SKUs is of course entirely artificial: Microsoft has made the separation with its own rules regarding support and linked services, which is its right, and it would be madness to make them the same again by supporting Pro for longer or Enterprise shorter, unless customers start massively protesting about Pro.
Once a manufacturer such as Lenovo or HP has paid the software maker for the license of Windows 10 Pro on a PC, the company does not earn a lot more money from the OS. (Yes, you could pay for Software Assurance on Pro, but that makes no sense anymore.) Microsoft naturally earns from sales of other software and services for that system, but Windows 10 Pro itself is a one-time sale.
Microsoft sells Windows 10 twice
That is different with Enterprise. Not only does it traditionally have revenue from Software Assurance, subscriptions are also sold in various variants, from Windows 10 Enterprise E3 and E5 to Microsoft 365 Enterprise E3 and E5. This generates a constant revenue stream and leads to a more comprehensive fear set that in many cases is limited to the Enterprise SKU. When a subscription expires and is not renewed, the system falls back on Windows 10 Pro.
Actually, this is really amazing: Microsoft has got customers to pay no less than twice for an operating system: once because the license price has been incorporated into the purchased device and a second time with an Enterprise subscription.
Microsoft is not going to change anything about that successful milk factory, but also wants all companies to go for the Enterprise model. Perhaps the company even secretly hopes that Pro will disappear completely as a business option. For those reasons, and more, it is very unlikely that Microsoft will expand support from Pro from 18 to 30 months or that it will offer Enterprise-only features on the cheaper SKU.
Advantage towards Enterprise
For that reason, customers can also expect that Enterprise will only offer more benefits than Pro. Microsoft will always try to deliver the benefit to Enterprise, even if it involves very little extras.
This also applies, for example, to the additional support of Windows 7 which is half the price for customers who also have licenses via Windows 10 Enterprise or Microsoft 365 Enterprise. The Extended Security Updates that will provide patches for three years after the retirement of the older OS in January, are the double price per pc for customers who continue to run Windows 10 Pro, namely $ 50 the first year, after which the price increases every year up to 200 / pc / year in year three.