Windows 8.1 Won't Speed Up Corporate Upgrades: 10 Reasons Why

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2013-06-25

Windows 8.1 Won't Speed Up Corporate Upgrades: 10 Reasons Why

Windows 8 is officially a huge issue for Microsoft. For more than two years, the company was promoting Windows 8 as the next best operating system on the market that would establish a new vision for how software and, specifically, Windows would operate in the future.

But soon after Windows 8 launched it became clear that the average consumer was not excited by the new operating system and didn't pay much attention to it. What's worse, the enterprise, which has always been the mainstay of Microsoft's success, decided that there was no rush to upgrade to Windows 8 because corporate users were happily productive with Windows 7.

In response, Microsoft is hyping Windows 8.1, a free update to the operating system that the software giant says will deliver the features and experience that the original Windows 8 doesn't. From enhanced personalization to an improved search, Windows 8.1 will be just what the doctor (or perhaps the enterprise) ordered, Microsoft says.

Still, the company is wrong. Windows 8.1 won't speed up corporate upgrades and, at least over the next couple of years, won't do much to change the fate of Microsoft's operating system.

These are the reasons why.

1. Budgets are still a problem

The biggest issue facing Microsoft and Windows 8 right now is the heavy constraint companies are placing on budgets. Despite some thawing last year, companies are still loath to assign much more cash to IT budgets, which is probably why IT spending is up just a few percentage points over the past year. The tight IT budgets means there is precious little room to spend money on Windows 8 upgrades or even the purchase of new PCs preinstalled with Windows 8.

2. Microsoft's stubbornly sticking to the design

Although Windows 8.1 will be a nice step up over the current offering, Microsoft has decided to stick with the same tile-based design in the upcoming update. That's one of the chief issues on the enterprise IT side and something that Microsoft must address if it's ever going to appeal to corporate users.

3. IT will need to examine the software

Let's just say Microsoft finds a way to get the IT decision-makers to consider Windows 8.1. Even in the short term, the software giant shouldn't expect a quick turnaround in Windows 8 upgrades. The enterprise is notorious for taking a long time to analyze software and make a buying decision. Windows 8.1 won't change that.

4. The upgrade cycles are delayed

Because of the economic downturn and the myriad ways companies can spend their IT budgets, PC upgrade cycles have been delayed. That was made abundantly clear in the fourth quarter of 2012 when PC shipments fell a surprising 4.9 percent compared with the same period in 2011. Gartner, the research firm that provided the bleak picture on the PC market, said it expects a "very cautious ongoing approach to outlay on hardware" in the enterprise.

Windows 8.1 Won't Speed Up Corporate Upgrades: 10 Reasons Why

5. IT investments are going elsewhere including to mobile devices

Despite a reduction in PC spending, enterprise customers are actually going out of their way to invest in other solutions. In fact, cloud spending is flying high. Companies are also investing in big data analysis technologies. A lot of corporate money is going into non-Windows tablets and other mobile devices. All of that is bad news for Microsoft and Windows 8.1.

6. The enterprise is suspicious about Microsoft promises

Microsoft shot itself in the foot with Windows 8. Prior to its launch, the company claimed that it would be the best solution it's ever launched for enterprise customers. And those that jumped on the bandwagon were burned. Now, Microsoft is saying that again. Enterprise customers are going to be more cautious than ever.

7. Free doesn't matter

Microsoft thinks that it can win over some customers by offering Windows 8.1 at no charge. But for enterprise customers, that's really not much of an incentive to get the software. After all, if the corporate world isn't investing in Windows 8 now, what difference will a free upgrade make?

8. Where's the enterprise push?

All of this discussion fails to point out one essential point about Windows 8.1: Microsoft hasn't made the case for why enterprise customers should invest in the software. In fact, the company has spent an inordinate amount of time talking about consumer-focused upgrades. That's a bad omen for IT decision-makers, and it provides even more reason to not upgrade to Windows 8.

9. Surface hurt the enterprise's view

Microsoft's plunge into the tablet market with the Surface Pro and Surface RT was a serious misstep when it comes to analyzing the company's performance in the enterprise. Corporate customers are concerned that Microsoft is trying to do too much with its software, and its market strategy seems to be going in too many uncertain directions. That's a red flag for IT decision-makers that are already pleased with Windows 7.

10. There are questions over Microsoft's plans

Some reports have suggested that there is some inner turmoil within Microsoft right now, and the company is considering a broad realignment of its business to more effectively adapt to the changing times. How Windows and Windows 8 will fit into that is currently unknown. Windows is obviously not going away. But it could take a backseat to Microsoft's cloud ambitions, according to some reports. If that's the case, expect the enterprise to become more than a little concerned.

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