Windows 8…. now or later?

Hello all,

As promised, here is the first of a series of “Business Technology” blogs. And since it is my first, I thought I would reflect on one of the newest technology releases in business today. WINDOWS 8….. should I adopt it now or later in the business world?

Now as a reminder to my loyal followers and people new to this blog, I did say this is a “business technology” blog. I will defer detailed technical review/opinions to much smarter people than I. That being said, I will acknowledge that Windows 8 can have the following technical benefits (as my esteem colleague Mike Pearcy tells me) :

  • Windows 8 represents 1 platform across multiple screens – Desktop, Table & Phone
  • Legacy Apps will work on Windows 8.  Making the transition easy.
  • Mobile Device Management built in.
  • Touch features.  People have discovered touch technology with their iPad/iPhone devices and Windows 8 is very touch was designed for touch.
  • “Metro” interface can be used as a dashboard and provide information to users without having to open the applications.
  • Search – Very powerful – Find information on your computer, Server quickly and easily.
  • Windows to Go (Windows 8 Enterprise)…. Supporting BYOD and Consumerization of IT objectives
  • Significantly Faster boot times
  • Performance will generally be better than Windows 7 on the same hardware.
  • Better Battery Life
  • Improved Security
    Bundled AV
    Trusted Boot
    Improved BitLocker Drive Encryption
  • Client virtualization via Hyper-V (Windows 8 Pro/Enterprise)
  • Direct Access (Windows 8 Enterprise) – minimizing the need for special VPN devices by providing seamless connection to corporate resources
  • BranchCache (Windows 8 Enterprise) – fancy term for optimizing WAN
  • Improved Printing support (Windows 8 Enterprise)

It’s hard to argue the technical evolution or path Microsoft has chosen to take under the guidance of Steve Ballmer… and given their R&D budget, I surely will not bet against them. Some will argue that they are messing with a solid platform and others will suggest that change is “healthy” in order to keep up with the competition from the likes of Google and Apple – in this case, I believe VERY healthy competition!

I’m of the latter mindset. I have nothing against Google or Apple. In fact, I’m a great consumer of products from Google, Apple, and Microsoft – this can lead to other personal issues, which can be the topic of another blog (LOL). I believe that in the Business Technology world, companies like Microsoft, Apple, and Google will “leap frog” each other in technology and that results in “progress for all of us”. Unfortunately, for the people that are change resistant, the bad news is that more change will come and…… perhaps more frequently…

So here is my opinion today (November 6, 2012). The ANSWER is “it depends on your business”. I know this doesn’t help many of you, so let me explain in the following context. Let’s assume that there are 4 general business scenarios out there for companies using Microsoft technology:

  1. Enterprise businesses
  2. Small and Mid-sized businesses with a “technology early adopter” attitude
  3. Small and Mid-sized businesses not focusing on technology and uses if just because everyone else is.
  4. Small businesses or startups (less than 100) that is open to change

Scenario 1:  Enterprise Businesses:

The obvious answer here is to wait. There are minimal business reasons to be an early adopter of Windows 8 in this scenario. Focus on upgrading your PCs to Windows 7 from Windows XP or Vista. Start regression testing for all your production applications and spend time on the Change Management issues around the Windows 8 platform. YES, this last issue is a big one. Believe it or not, finding the “shutdown button” we have all come accustomed to is now significantly different — easy once you understand the design concept of Windows 8, but analagus to my wife moving cups in our kitchen to a different cupboard just because she thought it was better when off loading the dishwasher. (LOL… people that know me know that this analogy is not real but it seemed to illustrate my point so I went with it)

Windows 8 is as evolutionary as Windows 95 was when Microsoft introduced the “Windows button”. In the Windows 8 case, the most visible evolution is the layout with the new “Metro” interface. User education/training will be the key to changing the way people have thought about a Windows system over the last 15 years! Guarding against the lost productivity will be critical. I foresee that large business may not adopt this new operating system for at least 18-24 months and in some cases longer —- especially if they just invested in the Windows 7 upgrade.

Scenario 2: Small and Mid-sized businesses with a “technology early adopter” attitude

My opinion here is GO for it with CAUTION (focus on great planning) !!! This is the first release of a Microsoft operating system that has less system requirements than that of its predecessor. If your company is one that can manage the change — and here I mean the people change —- the opportunities of introducing “touch screen” and productivity enhancements to your business can be pretty attractive. Microsoft’s Windows 8 platform was designed to take advantage of the technology evolution from companies like INTEL(new Ivy Bridge chipset) and other computer manufactures like Samsung, Dell, HP, Lenovo, Acer, Toshiba, trying to take back market share from the likes of “iPad” like touch screen devices. In addition to this, peripheral companies like Logitech are also developing touch screen devices that will eventually replace the “mouse” as we know it today! Check out these links:

The drawback to this argument is that “software development” companies are rapidly creating applications(apps) to leverage these new technologies and they are a far cry from where the Apple Store is today. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of main apps that are ready for consumers to buy NOW and some have features that even iPad or Android cannot do.

Scenario 3: Small and Mid-sized businesses not focusing on technology but uses it because everyone else requires it of them 

My opinion here is to wait — similar to Scenario #1. Upgrade to Windows 7, if you haven’t already because Microsoft has already announced that they will not be supporting Windows XP by April 8, 2014. This is where you should hire a “trusted IT advisor” or company to help you explore when, and how, to tackle this beast. There can be very good reasons to defer as long as possible, but also equally good reason to start a pilot to explore the opportunities. One thing is for certain….. other vendors you use for account systems, mail, sales systems, may eventually push you to adopt the Windows 8 solution sooner that you want, but I’m willing to bet that most of these vendors will support Windows 7 for a few more years — thereby buying you business some breathing room.

Scenario #4: Small businesses or startups (less than 50) that is open to change

My opinion here is Go for it. Why not? You have to start somewhere and you may not have the extent of business obstacles the other scenarios have. Work with a good company to help you with this journey. By the time you are ready to implement, I’m sure service pack 1 will be out and you will be in a position to leverage the latest technology providing a foundation on productivity and technical improvements for your business.

In summary, there are no easy answers. Find a way to test drive it if you can. There are companies out there that can help. Either way, Windows 8 is here and is something businesses will need to deal with eventually. BUT People Change Management will be the key success to any delivery, even with Microsoft’s promotional ($40cdn) offers encouraging the early adopter until January 2013

http://www.microsoftstore.com/store/msca/en_CA/pdp/productID.255156900

Start the conversation TODAY!

FYI: I will personally be experiencing the Window 8 environment over the next couple months. I do a Part 2 to this blog in the new year!

Andy
— please share with others if you found this helpful —

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