With the release of Windows 8, Microsoft has taken a huge gamble by re-imagining the Windows computer interface. The attractive looking new tile-based start menu and full screen apps are a massive departure from previous versions and the established user experience, giving desktop, tablet and mobile functionality from one operating system.
So what should business and corporate users consider when making a decision to upgrade or not? Here are 5 issues to think about.
1. Multi-Device Compatibility
Having an operating system that works on traditional desktop PC’s, touch screen devices and tablets sounds useful, allowing users, in theory, to work in the office or on-the-go more easily. On touchscreen devices, the newer way of working can be much more efficient and intuitive but using a mouse or touchpad with the paradigm has been much less well received. To maximise the benefits of Windows 8, corporate environments are having to adapt to the changes in both the interface and the way it works with existing systems. Corporate decision makers need to consider whether these strength and weaknesses of Windows 8 are compatible with their systems and workflows.
Windows 8 core functionality is significantly different to previous versions of Windows such as XP, Vista and Windows 7. To ensure a smooth transition to the new operating system, companies will need to budget for employee retraining, at all levels of the organisation, both in how to use the basic features of Windows 8 and also in how to support the end users.
3. Existing Software and Applications
A big positive feature of Windows 8 is it’s full screen mode, allowing users to see ‘more’ of the application they are using on-screen. However, many line of business applications will not support the new full screen model and will have to run on the desktop instead, similar to using them on Windows 7, but without the Start menu.
4. Tablet Integration
One of the key reasons for adopting Windows 8 would be it’s compatibility with different types of device, such as touch screen computers, traditional desktops and tablets. Corporate users must consider the new Windows 8 RT tablet devices and review whether there is enough compatibility between RT and their existing environment. An RT tablet device can only run specially built apps that have to be provided through extremely limited channels. The end result is a potentially useful device that is difficult to integrate with the rest of the Windows 8 environment.
5. Changing the Way You Work
Windows 8 is a brave operating system, recognising that the way we work is changing. Windows 8 seems to acknowledge that mobile working using tablet devices, is becoming more important to the productivity of businesses and demands a more flexible operating system. It also identifies that interface design is changing and we are increasingly adopting touch screen devices as a way of working more efficiently. Windows 8 also shows Microsoft are aware that there is a need for compatibility with traditional desktop and laptop devices.
Herein, however, lies the problem. Adopting Windows 8, or any other significantly different environment for that matter, presents a need for retraining and refactoring the business environment. If a business does not wish to follow this path, it makes no sense to go down the Windows 8 route.
Conversely if a business is considering adopting new touch screen, tablet and mobile technologies to increase productivity, then there are more complete, intuitive and comparably priced solutions out there that have a better selection of apps and productivity tools to choose from. So again, Windows 8 might not be the best solution.
The Bigger Picture
It’s no surprise that many corporate users are holding off on migrating to the new Windows 8 environment. While Windows 8 may add weight to the voice that technology is providing us with new opportunities for more productive working, it is questionable whether Windows 8 achieves this.
It makes more sense than ever to look at all available combinations of operating system and devices from all providers. This objective approach, in conjunction with the modernisation of related business processes and procedures, should make companies more efficient and productive.
Larry Dyde is Associate Technical Director of 3 Sheep Ltd. In addition to getting to grips with the latest technologies, he is managing and creating beautiful digital solutions for 3 Sheep clients. Contact Larry to talk about how 3 Sheep could be helping your company.
Microsoft, Surface, and Windows are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.