NEWS ANALYSIS: In two months, Microsoft will release Windows 8. If you and your staff don't know how you are going to deal with the deployment of this new Windows version by then, you are in trouble.
On Oct. 26, your IT department will have its hands full.
In many ways, when Windows 8 arrives, the technological transformation will be
far greater than it was when smartphones became popular or when people started
showing up at the office with iPads. The reason is that for most companies,
Windows is the only operating system running the critical productivity
applications on a significant percentage of the computers companywide.
When Microsoft ships Windows 8, the OS will be available
on computers that you buy from your suppliers, whether they're desktop or
laptop machines. Windows 8, or its close cousin Windows RT, will also show up
on tablets, Ultrabooks and in a revised version smartphones. It will be
While Windows 8 doesn't have anything new in the way of
hardware requirements, the same isn't true about the way it works. While there
are exceptions, you can install Windows 8 on anything that will run Windows 7.
On older machines you may find that Windows 8 is actually faster than earlier
versions of Windows. In addition, the tiled user interface formerly known as "Metro,"
while easy to use and intuitive isn't your only choice. There's also a
traditional Windows desktop that will appear with the click of a mouse or a
fast key combination that looks a lot like what you had on Windows 7.
The first step in getting ready for Windows 8 is to learn
how to use it. You can do this by downloading the pre-release
version from the Microsoft
or you can get the newly released Enterprise
. Both are free. The Enterprise edition provides a 90-day evaluation
period. The preview version will stop working sometime after the commercial
release on Oct. 26.
You can approach your evaluation in one of a few ways. The
easy way is to get a new computer that's running Windows 7 and upgrade it. The more
difficult, but perhaps more relevant way is to upgrade a computer that has the
necessary hardware specs, but that has been in use for a while. Either way you
will need to know whether the target computer is running a 32- or 64-bit version
When you go to the Microsoft download sites you'll be
faced with the choice of which version to download. What you get is an ISO (International
Organization for Standardization) image that you'll need to save to a DVD. The
time necessary to download the software and create the DVD varies according to
your Internet connection and the speed of your computer. For me, it was about
The next thing you need to do is make sure there's enough
space on the target machine's hard drive for the installation. Note that you
will need a product key, which is on the same page as the download links. Once
initiated, the installation is non-dramatic, and could be fast. Again, that
depends on your computer.