At the BUILD conference last week, Microsoft spent a lot of time talking about Windows 8, the next version of its operating system, set to launch next year. On many fronts, Windows 8 appears to be a worthwhile purchase for consumers. It will run well on tablets, come with a neat new interface and, according to Microsoft, offer better security. Since PC vendors will, as always, ship it with their latest PC models, consumers might have no other choice but to run Windows 8 the next time they buy a computer.
But the enterprise is different. During the Windows Vista years, the corporate world showed that when it doesn’t want to deploy a respective operating system, it won’t. Windows 7 has demonstrated that when enterprises have confidence in a new OS, they will buy it. But how will enterprises react to the availability of Windows 8? Will it embrace the operating system or, as some critics have said, ignore it altogether as an untimely upgrade that is arriving very early in the desktop hardware upgrade cycle.
But at this point,it seems Windows 8 will be an enterprise winner. Read on to find out why:
1. Many are still using XP
Although Windows 7 has proved wildly popular and it has been deployed by hundreds of millions of PC users around the world, many companies are still using Windows XP. Now that IT managers know Windows 8 will launch late next year, they might decide to wait until then to get all new computers in their businesses. Windows 7 is available now and is quite appealing, but for some companies, waiting until next year for Windows 8 might be their best bet.
2. Windows 7 isn’t fully rolled out
Of course, there are some companies that have already started to deploy Windows 7. And while some of those companies will continue to deploy Windows 7 until all their PCs are covered, in this world of tight budgets and uncertain economic times putting those deployments on hold to see what the next year holds might be more appealing to companies right now. For those firms, Windows 8 might just be their best bet.
3. Think about tablets
Windows 7 is by no means a worthwhile tablet operating system. In fact, it falls short in several ways. ButWindows 8 is designed with tablets in mind, making it an obvious choice for enterprise users. After all, it will support the operating system that companies want and come in a form factor that the enterprise is slowly but surely adopting. Although arguments can be made that companies won’t buy Windows 8 desktops or laptops, many firms will jump at Windows 8 tablets.
4. The new look won’t scare employees
Much has been made about the new look and feel of Windows 8, complete with tiles and other features that the critics say will confuse employees. However, at BUILD, Microsoft showed that it’s actually quite easy to turn the operating system back to the classic desktop style that employees have grown accustomed to. If they do decide to go with the tiles, it won’t scare them one bit. Windows 8’s new look and feel isn’t nearly as big of a problem as some claim.
ARM Compatibility Is Big New Factor
5. Expect better security
Microsoft has already drawn a line in the sand, saying that its next operating system version will come with improved security over its predecessor. In fact, according to eWEEK‘s Nicholas Kolakowski, a Microsoft executive last week showed off those features. The executive plugged a USB device containing a rootkit virus into a Windows 8 PC, Kolakowski reported. Windows 8 stopped the rootkit from booting up, thus protecting the system. If Microsoft can make good on its promise to make Windows 8 more secure, the enterprise will jump at the chance to deploy it.
6. Companies have time to plan
Unlike Apple, which likes to launch products close to their announcements, Microsoft understands that the corporate world needs time to plan. That’s why the software giant has been talking about Windows 8 for quite some time and why it will continue to make it a top priority in the coming months. Windows 8 won’t launch until next year. By then, the corporate world will have more than enough time to decide whether or not the new OS is right for their organizations.
7. It’s still Windows, after all
Although some critics say that Windows 8 won’t appeal to the enterprise, such an opinion seems rather shortsighted. The fact of the matter is Windows has always been a corporate favorite and that won’t change with Microsoft’s next operating system. Windows Vista wasn’t all that popular, but a large number of companies still deployed it. Considering that Windows 8 looks to be much better than Vista, what makes anyone think that it won’t have even stronger adoption?
8. ARM compatibility is huge
Much has been made about the partnership Microsoft inked with ARM, and for good reason. That deal, which will see ARM-based chips run Windows, will benefit both consumers and enterprise users. When ARM-based devices running Windows hit store shelves, they will likely be tablets. But over time, ARM processors might emerge for a wider range of PC models, which could drastically alter buying decisions across the enterprise. All the while, Intel will be forced to be more competitive, which could bring down PC prices. At this point, it appears ARM will spawn major changes in the marketplace, including lower prices, and the enterprise might just benefit heavily.
9. There will be no loss in productivity
Productivity means everything in the enterprise. If it falls, companies make less money. If it rises, they make more. With each new version of Windows, IT staffs need to consider how the operating system might affect productivity. This time around, the OS will come with a different look and some design quirks that might surprise users at first. But over time, it won’t be a problem.Windows 8 will not be a drain on productivity, and it’s important that all enterprise users understand that.
10. Remember the apps
An application marketplace has proved to be one of the most important aspects of Apple’s business over the last few years. In 2008, it launched its mobile app store, and earlier this year, it brought the Mac App Store to Mac OS X “Snow Leopard” and then Mac OS X “Lion.” Microsoft will respond with an app store of its own with Windows 8, called Windows Store. That marketplace’s ease of use and expected major support from developers are integral components in Windows 8’s appeal to consumers and enterprise users alike.