As Microsoft Corp. launches Windows 10 today, the operating system arrives in a remarkably different world than earlier launches like Windows 8, Windows XP and Windows 95. Indeed, the cloud computing, mobile, social and big data waves have dramatically altered the IT landscape. Here's where Windows 10 potentially fits into the corporate IT conversation.

1. Windows 10 and the Internet of Things: Instead of trying to compete head-on against Google Android and Apple iOS, Microsoft has scaled back its own smartphone efforts (going cross-platform instead) and is now pushing hard toward the Internet of Things. Several Windows 10 builds will specifically target a new generation of devices and intelligent endpoints. Deeper Dive: Ovum's Richard Edwards describes the Windows 10-IoT opportunity here.

2. Windows 10 Security and BYOD: The operating system includes a range of security enhancements, though some shortcomings remain. And the BYOD wave -- where employees bring their own systems to work -- could push Windows 10 onto business doorsteps. Deeper Dive: With that reality in mind, it's time for IT executives to update their BYOD and security policies to anticipate Windows 10 on employee-owned systems here.

3. Windows 10 PC Availability: Acer, Dell, HP and Lenovo each have pre-loaded Windows 10 on selected consumer systems for this week's launch. That's why businesses have to update their BYOD policies accordingly. But don't expect a major consumer blitz or long lines for Windows 10 upgrades. The overall consumer shift to the new operating system is expected to be more muted compared to previous releases.

4. Enterprise Software Upgrades: If or when enterprises begin to pursue Windows 10 deployments, they'll need to weigh complete PC replacements vs. software upgrades on existing PCs and notebooks. For those that choose the software upgrade path, there are four potential ways to ease new operating system and application installs. Microsoft also offers a range of Windows 10 guidance for business and enterprise adoption.

Bottom Line: Amid all the different flavors of Windows 10 hitting the market, Microsoft is trying to simplify the conversation and speed the adoption curve with this statement: "As we've shared, Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 Pro are available to business customers as a free upgrade for genuine Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 PCs and tablets. Enterprises and organizations who have Volume Licensing can upgrade to Windows 10 Enterprise and Windows 10 Education starting on August 1.

And as you work with Microsoft, be sure to read the fine print about that "free upgrade" statement.

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