Taking such a step away from traditional Windows operating systems, will the upcoming Windows 8 platform prove too much for businesses?
Just as Microsoft's upcoming Surface RT tabletparticularly well, some analysts have said that Friday's launch may be ignored for businesses currently operating on older versions of Apple's OS X rival.
Reuters reports that for a number of corporations, Windows 8 does not suit the enterprise market enough to warrant widespread adoption and movement away from Windows 7. Doug Johnson, head of risk management policy at the American Bankers Association, told the publication:
"Windows 8 is, frankly, more of a consumer platform than it is a business platform, so it's not something that makes any sense from a business perspective at this juncture. There is really no additional business functionality that Windows 8 gives you that I see."
The Windows 8 platform is designed to run well on tablets and low-cost computer chips, and includes touch-screen functionality for tablet users. Whether the interface, loss of the traditional start-menu or ad-support is not business-friendly may in fact be a moot point, as software upgrades cost a business money -- and if it's not broken, why fix it?
Many businesses are still running versions of Windows -- including Windows XP -- where support is being withdrawn, and updates are a costly process. It is the rare company that immediately orders the widespread adoption of the latest shiny piece of software, and Windows 8 is unlikely to be the exception to the rule.
Yes, Windows 8 can be used on both a tablet and PC, and comes in multiple versions. However, the consumer and enterprise lines are blurring, and whether you want to market this as a consumer or enterprise innovation, it is hard to deny that many aspects of the platform are aimed at a young, swipe-happy generation of mobile device users.
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Not only this, but in order to protect their investment, businesses will often test an operating system for up to 18 months before deployment. For example, car manufacturer Volkswagen has only just migrated PCs to Windows 7, so its unlikely the firm will be chomping at the bit to migrate to a new system that would take staff retraining to use efficiently.
The car maker's head of IT Martin Eickhoff said he was "excited to evaluate the new tablet features" but an assessment would have to be made after launch about Windows 8's suitability.
We have to consider just how rapid a change this operating system represents -- and whether or not the deployment pattern will last. It may be ignored altogether -- Windows Vista coming to mind -- and the enterprise may outright ignore the new system. An analysis at Gartner, Michael Silver, believes this will be the case, saying that "We believe 90 percent of large organizations will not deploy Windows 8 broadly, and at its peak, we expect about 20 percent of PCs in large organizations will run Windows 8."
Last year, Windows only accounted for 25 percent of Microsoft's sales. Tools and services -- such as Microsoft Office -- are now taking priority, and so the widespread adoption of Windows 8 may not be a top concern in the firm's head office. The platform may prove popular in some business roles, such as travelling sales reps who aren't inclined to use rival tablets including the iPad, but in itself, touch-screen functionality and apps are useful, but not a necessity in the business world.
Microsoft gets paid either way when they strike multi-licensing deals with companies and organisations. No matter which version businesses prefer, even if Windows 8 only proves popular with consumers, it is unlikely to turn users away from the technology giant.
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