In his CeBIT keynote speech earlier today, Microsoft Corp. COO Kevin Turner touted Windows 8's trifecta of personal use functionality, business capability, and robust security. He encouraged IT professionals and others to test the recently released Windows 8 Consumer Preview, available to the widest range of people yet following the initial release of the Windows 8 Developer Preview late last year.
Microsoft Officials are hailing Windows 8 as a "no-compromise" platform for a variety of computing devices, one especially suited to the modern portable-computing needs of businesses. Said Turner in his keynote: "Windows 8 will deliver no compromise experiences on a range of devices from tablets and PCs to desktops. It will give people functionality they love and the enterprise-grade capabilities that IT departments demand." The same wording found its way into the Windows Team Business Blog, where Erwin Visser writes, "Our goal is to offer a 'no compromise' solution [emphasis mine] so you don’t have to choose between productivity and convenience. With the new Metro style interface in Windows 8, users get an experience built for touch that also works beautifully with a mouse and keyboard." With such phraseology, it looks like Microsoft is anticipating questions about the platform's success in balancing a user-friendly tablet interface with more traditional IT infrastructures.
"We believe Windows 8 will bring an evolutionary solution to Windows users that delivers business productivity, while helping IT to manage and secure new devices using their existing infrastructure and tools," said Al Gillen, program vice president, system software, IDC. "Windows 8 will help bridge the demands that end users are placing on IT departments with what IT wants for its business — a smooth transitional path to add tablet devices into an existing Windows client infrastructure."
In its push to get the business community to consider Windows 8 adoption, the Windows Team highlights such enterprise-friendly features as:
- A user-friendly experience compatible with both multitouch and traditional keyboard-and-mouse interfaces
- An array of Metro-style productivity apps, and backwards compatibility with Windows 7 applications.
- New possibilities for secure mobile productivity, including Windows To Go, a feature allowing Windows 8 to boot and run from a USB storage device, either with or without connectivity.
- Beefier security features, including Trusted Boot, improved BitLocker drive encryption, AppLocker, and claim-based access control.
- Improved management, including easy integration into existing client management infrastructures and facility of management tasks through the Windows PowerShell automation.
For more on Windows 8's features, check out this post, or take a look at the following video:
While an official Windows 8 release date has yet to be announced, last week's release of the Consumer Preview, alongside Windows 7's upcoming third birthday this October, suggest the new operating system will be with us sometime in the next half a year. But what about businesses recently invested in Windows 7, or those still looking to make the switch from XP? Should they hold out for the new guy in town?
Microsoft hopes the application compatibility between the current and upcoming systems will encourage businesses to go ahead with their upgrade to Windows 7. "With the end of support coming for Windows XP and the immediate value you can get from Windows 7 today, I would recommend accelerating your Windows 7 deployment if you haven’t already," writes Visser. "The application compatibility investments you make moving from Windows XP to Windows 7 will carry forward and prepare you well for Windows 8."
You can download the Windows 8 Consumer Preview here.