Windows 8 is causing enterprises to ask a lot of questions: Should we adopt it for employees, and phase out Windows 7 and XP? Should we take a wait-and-see approach to assess the new OS features and how it could help drive our business? What about Windows 8 tablets and phones? Where are the apps?
Many businesses are proceeding with hardware refresh initiatives exactly as planned before Windows 8, but big questions remain. To cut through some of the swirl and buzz surrounding Windows 8, which includes plenty of kudos and rants to go around, we think the impact of Windows 8 for today’s enterprise can be described in five ways:
- Windows 8 will give purchasing managers at least a couple of minutes’ pause over that next big iPad purchase. This pause might only last a moment as some large and mid-sized companies may step back, look at the price point differentials, along with the stronger security capabilities of Windows, and at least ask themselves whether a Windows 8 tablet would be a better investment. That said, we doubt Windows 8 will affect desktop purchasing plans much at all – partly because so many companies just upgraded to Windows 7 recently, and partly because IT perceives that end users will utilize their desktop machines less as mobile devices become more powerful and connected to corporate networks.
- IT can now call a truce in the BYOD wars. Until now, IT shops that preferred the stability and security advantages of Windows had very little to stand on against end users clamoring for their tech centers to support their iOS and Android devices. Especially in highly regulated environments, such as financial services and healthcare, Windows 8 will enable IT to say that end users absolutely can have instant-on, touchscreen devices with seamless user experiences across phone, tablet and desktop — just not the ones from Apple or Google.
- More employees could suddenly “go mobile.” Of course, the iPad’s ease of use, friendliness, and altogether integrated nature has already persuaded many desk workers that they should join the ranks of the students, poets and bloggers at their local coffee shop to crunch through their emails or chat online with clients. But with Surface, you can now add seamless Office support to the enticements of the bohemian work style. Fact is, while it may have been possible to update an Excel spreadsheet on the iPad, it wasn’t user friendly.
- A new addiction: “LiveTileism.” Much of Apple’s success with the iPhone and iPad has been due to the emotional connection people develop with these devices. The new LiveTiles start screen offers constant updates to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, email, calendar and other apps, and has the potential to become addictive, similar to a stock ticker: when data is there, we feel compelled to consume it.
- A first real glimpse of the potential of multi-channel apps. What Microsoft is shooting for here is the industry’s first truly standardized OS that delivers an optimal user experience across the entire ecosystem of devices for work and home. The apps that enterprises build can be consumed across all form factors users want, without recreating or recoding, saving overhead and training costs. Many enterprises will see the potential of this “same app, any screen” vision and begin to plan integrated, context-aware computing strategies to leverage it for employees, consumers and distribution partners.