Why IT might be wrong about Windows 8

Early indicators suggest Windows 8 may suffer from a lack of interest, especially in the enterprise. But there are reasons IT may want to consider moving to the new OS – and some businesses may not have much choice. 

Among the other problems expected to hurt Windows 8 enterprise adoption, many tech leaders believe Windows focused on creating an operating system for consumer tablets, at the expense of the desktop PC experience.

However, it also seems consumers have decided to pass on Windows 8 so far. Though the OS won’t be released until October 26, preview versions have been available for a few months. And according to the latest numbers from analytics firm Net Applications, 0.33% of all computers running Windows during September were using a version of Windows 8 — which is five times lower than the share Windows 7 reached at the same point in its release schedule.

That figure may indicate a particular lack of interest among businesses, since IT professionals and enterprises have been able to obtain a final Windows 8 build since the middle of August. Since very few have done so, experts are predicting a lag in Windows 8 enterprise adoption.

Gartner, for example, expects Windows 8 to peak at running on just 20% to 25% of business PCs, and the researcher firm is advising clients — especially those running XP — to stay away from the new OS, at least for now, and move to Windows 7 if they haven’t done so already.

Tech leaders seem to agree, as the majority of IT pros have no plans to upgrade to Windows 8 in their organizations, according to one recent survey. Some of the problems cited include:

  1. The poor experience when running Windows 8 in a traditional desktop environment
  2. An expected difficulty with training users on an OS that’s very different from versions of Windows they’re used to, and
  3. Fragmentation problems caused by the release of different versions of Windows 8 for Intel and ARM-based devices.

However, not all observers agree that Windows 8 enterprise adoption will be hurt by those issues, or that businesses should avoid the OS. Here are some reasons many experts say IT departments should and will consider a Windows 8 upgrade:

1. Windows 8 may help solve IT consumerization problems

Despite the many negative Windows 8 reviews, most agreed that the OS works well when used on tablets. That could be good news for IT departments, especially if users take to the idea of using Windows 8 tablets for work instead of other popular tablets like Apple’s iPad. Support for those devices will be easier if the organization already uses Windows 8 for its desktops. Windows 8 also includes a new feature called Windows to Go, which allows users to keep a copy of the OS on a USB drive and run it from any computer with a version of Windows installed, making it easy to work from anywhere.

2. Windows 8 is more secure

Most new versions of Windows feature upgrades designed to boost security, and Windows 8 is no different. One new feature is Secure Boot, which verifies the security certificates of all components during start-up to prevent malware from running before Windows has a chance to launch. The new OS also features improved BitLocker encryption, advancements in Microsoft’s VPN-like DirectAccess feature, and new ways of verifying applications before they can run.

3. Windows 8 enterprise training won’t be that big of a deal

Much has been made about how difficult it will be to train users to work in Windows 8, given how different the OS is from previous versions of Windows — it lacks the ubiquitous Start button, for example. However, while some training will be necessary, it won’t have to be so intensive that businesses should avoid Windows 8 altogether, says IT training firm PC Helps. Having already worked on a Windows 8 migration at a 7,000-employee company, the firm says if training is completed before the upgrade and targeted to specific user groups, people will get acclimated to the new OS soon enough.

4. Businesses must upgrade from XP at some point

While many organizations have successfully moved to Windows 7, plenty of others would like to keep XP for as long as possible. However, with support for XP ending in April 2014, businesses probably won’t be able to wait and see what Windows 9 will bring before they make a decision. It’s likely many of the firms still running XP will make the switch to Windows 8.

Does your organization plan to upgrade to Windows 8? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments section below.

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  • 2kmaro

    Heck, we just got finished with full upgrade to Windows 7 and Server 2008 environments – we are NOT going through that headache voluntarily any time soon. Just as we’ve HAD to hold of on upgrades to IE since many of our business critical connections (banking, security, personnel systems) won’t work on “the latest and greatest” version of IE – in some cases not even beyond IE6.
    Microsoft is moving fast – faster than the rest of the world can keep up. QUIT making “new” – and simply make the old actually work properly!