What it costs to keep up with Windows 10's upgrade tempo

Microsoft's twice-a-year feature updates are a greater burden on companies than the old upgrade-every-six-years pace businesses used to face, according to Gartner Research.

Microsoft has given customers all kinds of reasons for why the faster release pace of Windows 10 is a great idea, from keeping pace as technology change accelerates to staying ahead of hackers by constantly improving security.

What it's never spelled out is how much the rapid releases would cost users.

In a recent report, Gartner Research put numbers to those costs, and concluded - spoiler alert! - that Microsoft's twice-annual feature updates were a greater burden on enterprises than the once-traditional upgrade-every-six-years tempo that businesses managed until 2015.

The report described a tool Gartner offered to clients, the "Windows 10 Feature Update Cost Model," which lets enterprises estimate costs for tackling one or two such updates each year. The goal of the tool: to "model and plan your cost and labor requirements" for those transitions.

"Organizations must move from running infrequent projects to upgrade Windows every six to eight years to having a continuous process to qualify and push out updates every six to 12 months," Gartner said in its report. "This results in a different pattern for staffing and budgeting. Tasks that used to be done in a separately funded project - possibly with help from a service provider - become a task that must be done continuously, probably by existing IT staff."

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