Quite honestly, IT departments hate change. So you can imagine how administrators are reacting to a reimagined Windows 8! There’s lots of things to consider:
Resistance is Futile
Administrators are going to resist change; I’ve no doubt. But you know what, it might be like with Windows XP. I think it was Mark Minasi (I might be wrong) who might have coined the phrase “Windows FP” (Fischer Price). Experienced admins and power users hated the way Windows in the workplace was moving stuff around and hiding complexity. Windows 9X users hated this bigger OS that appeared to be more complex.
My first end user experience with an XP deployment was an overnight install. I went in the following morning, trying to ready myself for the worst … and the users loved Windows XP.
Guess what … no BS … that’s been my experience with Windows 8. The folks in our office who have tried it have like it. After a recent briefing, half the attendees volunteered to be upgraded from Windows 7 to Windows 8. Edit: they’ve been all over the new Windows 8 devices that have arrived in our office this week. I lost track of the Toshiba u920t as it passed from desk to desk.
I’ve been using Windows 8 on a classic Windows 7 PC with non-touch since it was on TechNet. (a) The OS is faster. Using it was faster. (b) I’m almost always in the desktop, and I’ve pinned my usual tools on the task bar like I did with Windows 7. (c) When I do anything to get a Start Menu, the Start Screen comes up and short cuts for my installed programs or Windows Store apps are there. (d) Search in Windows 8 is the best search experience I’ve had. Ever.
Since then, I have been given a design-for-Windows 7 touch (2 points) monitor, and I upgraded to Office 2013 yesterday. I very rarely touch the monitor … so touch isn’t required. And there’s little things in Office 2013 that I love, such as calendar peek, and the speed of it.
I think employees will not resist Windows 8. They’ve been using alternative OSs for the last 5 years (Android and IOS). My number one rule is that users are stupid, but I think Windows 8 will be a popular option if they get to try it.
XP End Of Life
Since 2001, Windows XP gone on to become the biggest competitor to Vista, Windows 7, and now Windows 8. XP still has around 50% of the market. But XPs day’s are numbered; it is in extended support now (no bug fixes, no new software from Microsoft, only security fixes) and that ends in April 2014. There is zero chance of an extension like what happened with Windows NT. Back then, NT was vNow – 2, with very little adoption of Windows 2000 Workstation. XP is vNow – 3, with Windows 7 making a nice dent in the enterprise in the last 2 years. The EOL of XP should be no surprise; MSFT has been talking to partners and enterprises about this since extended support started.
That’s the market that partners will target. While those who have started introducing Windows 7 will continue down that road, there are a large percentage of customers who have made no move. Windows 8 offers everything that Windows 7 did, but more.
Windows 8 Enterprise
There are certain things in Windows 8 Enterprise that may be appealing. The biggest draw in Enterprise in the past was BitLocker, but that’s now in the Pro edition too. DirectAccess was a nice concept but too messy. Not the alternative to VPN is 3-clicks away in Windows Server 2012 and it doesn’t require Forefront UAG to do IPv6 to IPv4 conversion. Windows 8 Direct Access also runs a lot better and can connect with the closest responding of multiple administrator assigned DA gateways. There’s other stuff in there too that can improve security and administration. And don’t forget the massively improved VDI experience too that Windows 8 offers (with touch support for your tablet clients!) – Windows 8 Enterprise clients do not need additional VDA licensing.
You can’t deny it; the iPad has appeared in the business. I speak mainly to SMEs in Ireland, and lots of iPads are used by people in the audience to stay connected or to take notes. We’ve seen stories of thousands of iPads being bought by corporations. Whether they’re being brought in and being used by users (BYOD), either approved or not, or they’re being supplied by IT, the tablet is here. It might be a companion device for the most part, but the iPad is here.
Windows 8 (x86/x64) and Windows RT (ARM – Windows Store apps only – will be possible to side load via Windows Intune) is Microsoft’s response. MinWin made it possible for these devices to work really well with Windows 8. If you want the iPad alternative then maybe you get a Windows RT device such as the Surface or similar. If you want a machine you can deploy a Windows 8 image to, make a domain member, and install Outlook on, then you go for one or the PC/Pro models that run Windows 8 Pro, such as the Samsung ATIV Smart PC or similar. You can get them with cover keyboards, no keyboards, detachable laptop style keyboards with batteries, or even permanently attached keyboards (Lenovo Yoga). You can get them with TPM chips for managed BitLocker storage encryption. You can get them with USB slots to enable BYOD devices to boot up with a company supplied Windows 8 Enterprise on a supported USB 3.0 storage device.
To put it simply, you can buy the classic consumer tablet with Windows RT, or you can buy/enable a pro style device that is business ready without making huge changes/additions to your PC management systems.
Quite honestly, I think these are the guys who will make the biggest impact on Windows 8 being adopted by mid/large businesses. If I have Windows XP/7 PCs and IOS tablets, then I need an LOB client app to be developed and tested 2 times for the 2 very different platforms. But if I have Windows 8 PCs and Windows 8/RT tablets I can go 2 ways:
- Develop a Windows Store App (side load via Windows Intune to keep it private) for all devices including Windows 8 devices and Windows RT tablets
- Develop a classic program for all Windows 8 Pro/Enterprise PCs and tablets
I’m no phone dev, but I’m told that porting a Windows Store app to Windows Phone 8 is not that big a deal. On the other hand, I’m told that developing for IOS is nasty.
I’ve seen LOB app devs drive SharePoint, SQL Server, and Office sales. 1 critical app to a business can drive a change to the common desktop platform, no matter what IT thinks of it. That’s my bet right now – a new app to work on all platforms can be the way to drive Windows 8 deployment.