Windows 8 has been at the forefront of discussion for the weeks leading up to its launch on Friday. The company says that Windows 8 is the future - a world where traditional desktop computing and touch computing can live in harmony. A future where all your content is at your fingertips at all times. So is the future worth it?
What do you think of Windows 8? Are you going to upgrade? Let us know in the comments.
Windows 8 is drastically different from anything else on the market at this time. The usually conservative Microsoft is taking a big bet on the general consumer this time around instead of catering to its usual enterprise crowd. It's that bet on the consumer that may hurt its enterprise adoption.
The most obvious change is the new start menu. Upon booting up, Windows 8 now presents you with a screen of multi-colored blocks called "Live Tiles" that feature all of your content front and center. All of your music, videos, pictures, games and more are made readily available for your consumption.
The same goes for apps - a major driving force for Windows 8. Microsoft wants to emulate the success of Apple's App Store with its own Windows Store. It's a carefully curated marketplace of apps built specifically for Windows 8. A number of companies, including Google, Skype and Netflix, have already produced apps for Windows 8. Unfortunately, there's still not enough apps in the marketplace to have it replace the traditional desktop operating system.
There may not be enough apps for consumers, but some enterprise customers are making great use of Windows 8's focus on apps. eWeek reports that Twentieth Century Fox has created a Windows 8 B2B app so its customers can browse through all the television series available for purchase. The app also displays information and assets for TV series from within the app. The company said Windows 8 provided them a way to make their sales app "more sexy and exciting."
There are numerous other stories of enterprise customers who are using Windows 8 apps to connect directly with customers. For instance, Rooms To Go, a furniture retailer, built a Windows 8 app that its salespeople use at stores. With it, the consumer can add what they need to a virtual shopping cart and check out without having to carry anything around. The consumer friendly approach of Windows 8 is seemingly a good fit for consumer oriented businesses.
Will Windows 8 be good for consumer focused businesses? Let us know in the comments.
What about the enterprise customer with a large internal workforce? Microsoft is already forcing these businesses' hands by making Office 2013 only available on Windows 7 and Windows 8. Those who are still using Windows XP will have to upgrade to at least Windows 7 to get the latest features.
Microsoft sees the upgrade as only a good thing. ZDNET reports that Microsoft Australia business group lead Tina Flammer says that Windows 8 is positioned to handle the "top worry" for CIOs - managing a mobile workforce with a broad range of devices. Whether or not that's the top worry, Microsoft is confident that businesses will come around to Windows 8 sooner or later because it offers advanced security and management on "no compromise devices that everybody loves."
No matter how much Microsoft spins it, however, some businesses still can't help but feel that Windows has abandoned the enterprise market. Doug Johnson, head of risk management policy at the American Bankers Association told Reuters that "Windows 8 is, frankly, more of a consumer platform than it is a business platform." He went on to say that "there is really no additional business functionality that Windows 8 gives you that I can see."
Windows 8 might have been more popular among enterprise customers if they didn't already have a better alternative in Windows 7. A lot of enterprise customers are just now starting to move off of Windows XP after Vista failed to excite them, and nobody wants to move to a new OS so soon after an upgrade. Besides, Windows 7 is more familiar to Windows XP, an operating system that employees have probably been using for over a decade.
The move to Windows 7 may be the last major change among enterprise customers for some time. Michael Silver, an analyst at tech research firm Gartner, told Reuters that he expects 90 percent of large organization to not "deploy Windows 8 broadly." Even worse, he expects only 20 percent of PCs in large corporations to be equipped with Windows 8.
So, it all comes down to one question - should you upgrade to Windows 8? At the moment, it's not really worth it. The operating system doesn't have enough going for it to make the upgrade worth it for consumers or enterprise. The app store is relatively barren and lacks a number of important apps - Facebook and Twitter - that are important to consumers. The amount of work required to retrain an entire workforce to use the new start menu and a desktop without a start button would take too long and cost too much.
With that being said, Windows 8 shows tremendous promise. The current Windows 8 apps being built for consumer interaction are pretty exciting. Building those apps, however, require the kind of resources that not all businesses have or are willing to spare. Microsoft will most assuredly work on making Windows 8 easier to deploy across the workplace, but it's going to take some time.
Do you see Windows 8 benefitting your business in any way? Or are you taking a wait and see approach? Let us know in the comments.
For consumers interested in Windows 8, Microsoft is currently running a deal where existing Windows XP, Vista or 7 owners can upgrade to WIndows 8 for only $39.99. As far as Windows goes, that's a fantastic deal that might help Microsoft gain some traction among the consumer market. As for enterprise customers, you already have your own special option.