Is Windows still the best option for your company?

Not all that long ago, you'd have received some pretty funny looks if you'd have suggested moving some or all of your company's devices away from Windows.

What were the alternatives? Macs were expensive and had limited application support (unless you were media creators) and Linux - Hah, really!? However, as Bob Dylan wrote; times they are a changin'!

Macs now have an arguably lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) than Windows when managed using modern tools, even taking into consideration the high initial outlay, and have some great applications including Microsoft Office, which is catching up quickly with the Windows versions in terms of feature parity. If you need to run Windows applications, there are mature solutions for application virtualisation (either local or remotely hosted) to help you transition too.

Linux is still an outlier and not something I'd suggest for your wider organisation, however it has its place in a sandbox environment for some developers (who can generally support themselves) and of course powering the Internet of Things (IoT) devices that might be cropping up behind the scenes in your company. But that's not the full story... Linux also underpins Google's Chrome OS, which is now biting at the heals of the full-fat version in terms of desktop market share and has some great benefits.

Chrome OS is the operating system that runs on Chromebooks (laptops), Chromeboxes (desktops), Chromebits (HDMI compute sticks, often used for digital signage) and has been around since 2011. It has made some great headway into the education market, where low cost devices, ease of management and security are so important; however it is now a serious contender for use in business too.

With GSuite becoming so powerful, Office365 having a great browser-based experience and so many more apps moving to Software as a Service (SaaS), it's little wonder that even really large companies are relying more and more on the humble web browser to deliver applications to their employees.

Chrome OS delivers a superbly slick browser experience for these SaaS applications, has the added benefit of being able to natively run Android apps (and soon Linux applications too), and like Macs, can also run Windows applications in a virtualized environment.

Benefits of Chrome OS and Chrome Devices:

  • Want a sub-£300 device that doesn't suck? Check.

  • Want a device that boots up in less than 10 seconds? Check.

  • Want a device that updates itself regularly over the Internet, but waits patiently until you have finished your work before performing the upgrade? Check.

  • Want that upgrade to take less than a minute? Check.

  • Want a device that requires almost no IT involvement to deploy, update or refresh? Check.

  • Want a device that doesn't require Anti-Virus, Anti-Malware, Data Loss Prevention (DLP) or myriad other agents to be installed (that sap performance)? Check.

  • Want to give your employees the option of using their own Chromebook for work (Bring Your Own Device - BYOD), or allowing your employees to use their company Chromebook for personal use (Company Owned, Personally Enabled - COPE) without risking cross pollination/contamination/loss of data? Check.

Management of Chrome devices is really straightforward if you're a GSuite customer, and we can easily deploy, secure and manage your estate remotely on your behalf if you purchase your GSuite licences through us.

In my opinion, Microsoft is now playing catch up to Chrome OS with Windows 10 S and their Surface Go product, but if your organisation is already deep into the Microsoft ecosystem (think Active Directory, SCCM, InTune, Exchange, Azure etc), then this might be a good time to look at Windows 10 S as a lighter alternative to full-blown Windows 10 for at least some of your use cases.

Indeed it'd also be a good time to review your whole Microsoft environment to see whether you're making best use of the available tools to simplify management of your Windows estate as there are new technologies such as Windows Autopilot which can really help modernise deployment of Windows devices.

So, to round up, Windows may still be a solid choice for your organisation if you're deeply embedded in the Microsoft ecosystem, have a large number of native Windows applications and don't want to rock the boat, however Macs offer great hardware, a robust operating system and a surprisingly low TCO and Chromebooks might just be the thing your company needs to quickly modernise your IT estate without spending a fortune.

As always, please feel free to get in touch if you'd like to discuss any of this in more detail.