Microsoft: Windows 8 bridges work and home

Microsoft: Windows 8 bridges work and home

Summary: COO Kevin Turner says companies must embrace the fact that employees work with their own technology, and that Windows 8 will help.


HANOVER, Germany--Microsoft may have been caught flat-footed by the explosion of new consumer technologies, but it's using its continuing strength among business customers to try to recover its position.

Specifically, Microsoft believes in a blurred line between tablets and personal computers that will be good for businesses, said Microsoft Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner in a speech at the CeBIT trade show here. And Microsoft believes that Windows 8 will help companies welcome, not reject, the fact that employees bring their own technology into the office.

See also: How Windows 8 will allow administrators to sideload and manage appsShortcuts and surprises in the Windows 8 Consumer PreviewSome possibly not-so-good news for business users with Windows 8

Microsoft COO Kevin Turner touts Windows 8 at the CeBIT tech show in Hanover, Germany.

Microsoft COO Kevin Turner touts Windows 8 at the CeBIT tech show in Hanover, Germany.     Credit: Stephen Shankland/CNET

"The consumerization of IT--consumers bringing technology into the workplace--is something all companies must embrace," Turner said at the opening keynote for the mammoth tech show, which this year attracted more than 4,200 exhibitors and well over 300,000 visitors.

"Should I have touch or a mouse and keyboard? Depending on the job function, the answer is yes and yes. Should I have security or should I let people bring their own technology to work? In the past the answer was no, but now it's yes and yes," Turner said. "With Windows 8, it doesn't require you to make that compromise. When you ask should I or shouldn't I, we replaced the 'or' with an 'and.'"

Windows 8 embodies Microsoft's business challenge of updating its technology without leaving its customers behind.

Erwin Wisser, a Microsoft senior director of Windows, shows how Windows 8 can boot from a USB drive during a demo at CeBIT. credit Stephen Shankland/CNET

Erwin Wisser, a Microsoft senior director of Windows, shows how Windows 8 can boot from a USB drive during a demo at CeBIT.         Credit: Stephen Shankland/CNET

The huge number of businesses using Windows is a tremendous asset for Microsoft, especially given that PCs dovetail with Microsoft's server software such as Exchange and, increasingly, cloud-based services such as Azure. That large installed base makes rapid technology change difficult, though--witness the continuing popularity of the decade-old Windows XP. Windows 8 tries to finesse the situation by adding the new Metro interface while retaining the traditional Windows desktop for familiarity and for compatibility with the vast amount of existing software.

In recent years, Apple's iOS and Google's Android have swept into the mobile device market, stealing a lot of customer money and developer attention that had been lavished on Windows computers. Microsoft is betting Windows Phone and Windows 8 will bring back some of the allure.

Where Apple and Google created operating systems for mobile phones and tablets, Microsoft drew its Windows Phone boundary lower and reserved Windows 8 for tablets and personal computers. That decision lets Microsoft position Windows 8 as a bridge traditional PC use or more mobile tablet computing. But it also makes for a dual-personality operating system: the traditional interface with a start button and task bar, or the new Metro interface that's "touch-first" and lets people launch apps from tiles that house live information.

Microsoft COO Kevin Turner argues that Windows 8's Metro interface will make life easier for those using Windows Phones and Xboxes.

Microsoft COO Kevin Turner argues that Windows 8's Metro interface will make life easier for those using Windows Phones and Xboxes.     Credit: Stephen Shankland/CNET

Microsoft released its Windows 8 consumer preview last week, and Erwin Visser, a senior director for Windows at Microsoft, showed a demo of the forthcoming OS at Turner's speech.

Turner sees Windows as a crossover technology geared for both businesses and consumers, and its Metro interface should be familiar to those with Windows Phone and Xbox on a TV, too. And with Windows To Go, which lets Windows 8 boot and run off a USB drive, people can turn their home machine into their work machine.

"Where people work, when they work, and how they work continues to have more overlap between [the office], home, living room, the automobile," Turner said. "The ability to connect the work style and lifestyle is something we believe at Microsoft we're in a significant position to offer."

The trend of employees bringing their own products to work is called the "consumerization of IT." Of course, a lot of that information technology is changing because of Android phones, iPhones, and iPads, but Microsoft thinks its products will help information technology staff get ahead of the trend.

The chief information officer's "traditional role for being the gatekeeper for devices is now shifting," Turner said. "If you look at trends of cloud computing or the consumerization of IT, there's one thing in common: they're mostly being driven by end users. The ability to get in front of that is the real challenge we see for CIOs."


CNET's Stephen Shankland writes about a wide range of technology and products, but has a particular focus on browsers and digital photography. He joined CNET News in 1998 and has also covered Google, Yahoo, servers, supercomputing, Linux, other open-source software, and science.

Topics: Microsoft, Hardware, Laptops, Mobility, Operating Systems, Software, Tablets, Windows

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  • Sometimes bridging the gap is not the right way.

    When they claim bridging the gap between work and the home, do you mean work is going to be like my home. Or do you mean my home also becomes my place of work.

    I would like the former, but I can only forsee the latter being acceptable to business. I for one would not like to see the distinction between my work place and my couch and living room become blurred that I start taking conference calls at my dining table whilst I am eating with my children.

    There needs to be a clear line between when you start work and when you end work. Morally, ethically and dare I say it, even business wise.

    Each tool has it's own job. I don't go making cakes with a power sander. And nor do I sand walls with a whisk. Would you bridge a gap between those two devices? No. So why bridge a gap between a work device and a leisure device.

    It just doesn't make any kind of sense.
    • The later at our company...

      We are a mid-size company of only ~3000 employees worldwide. HR/IT started a "work from anywhere" program where employees with company owned hardware can work - assuming acceptance by their manager - from anywhere home, office or both. A lot of employees took them up on this, to save money (commuting) and company saves money ("rent") office space, power etc. Our next evolution of this will be BYOD. They are looking at options for this now. Since we are a SAP/Saleforce shop they are looking to a hosted windows environment. A tool like W8 would indeed bridge that gap for the employees. Most employees in IT work 50-60 hour weeks so this works great. We are small only about 90 FTE supporting the # above.
      • Why would W8 bridge a gap?

        Seriously? Are all your workers asking for tablet experiences?

        I don't believe that gap actually exists. Even so, you're not going to have one device that acts like a consumption device AND a productivity device.

        There is no gap. It's a complete and utter phallacy.
      • BYOD (iPads and Androids)

        Many people at my work are already bringing in there iPad's and Androids tabs and mostly for there personal use it for checking personal emails and sometimes chatting.

        But from what i get from the above article is, now you can connect these (PERSONAL) devices to work devices, and you can use it for work!!!

        Hang on there, i drive my personal car to work (thats acceptable). But my manager cant make me use my car for work and not pay for it? i think Microsoft is giving Corporates a wrong idea, that employees will revolt unless your work provides you with a tablet (probably instead of a laptop).
      • Very few companies want BYOD, it is employee driven

        Possibly so they do not have to carry two phones, etc.

        However, the weekly addition to one's remuneration if one did BYOD would only come to a few $s, which is chickenfeed to most IT people.
    • It does make sense

      More work, less freedom...
      • Fact of life for many FTEs now

    • Working is not the same as the 90's or 00's decade

      Since half decade of 00's many enterprises are increasing productivity on global employees who can access their workplace in different business hours than normally, since other employees are in Europe or Asia and have different hour. Gaining access to Enterprise at home requires you to have a good OS and secured communications. With Windows 8 many users will have access to secure live meetings with people in other countries at different business hours by providing enterprise class Skype applications which would support secure communications channel, and be available for the Metro Interface so you won't need to turn on your desktop, turn on your monitor and wait for 2 minutes until it boots, you will have it in seconds since Boot times in Windows 8 will be dramatically shorter than previous Windows versions since solid state drive technologies remove all mechanical parts in your hardware and lets you use your tablet as a more speed and power efficient device than a desktop.
      Gabriel Hernandez
      • Screw the tech, what about quality of life?

        You say this as if its a good thing. From a workers perspective it most certainly isn't.

        You're talking about technology. I'm talking about actually living a decent well balanced life.
      • Working is not the same as the 90's or 00's decade

        Really? My computer wakes up from sleep in seconds. My web browser (Chrome) connects me to my company Webex page to conduct meetings... which I can also access from my iPad or iPhone when needed. MS is dreaming if they think they can provide something new here. Save your money.
      • Most do more than chat

        For that they need something more heavyweight than a browser.
    • RE: Sometimes bridging the gap is not the right way.

      Right on! I am not interested in MS's view of how I separate work from home. And I don't need them giving my boss any ideas either, thank you.
  • This line of thinking is what hurt MS to begin with.

    The requirements for games at home and the requirements for businesses are diametrically opposed. Microsoft attempting to blur the line is nothing new...and in fact has been part of the problem. They imply that you can lock all these features meant to open the system up to the cloud back down, secure the ports they have to leave open to allow game-distribution clients like STEAM to run, and restrict users' ability to mess up their own profile. But if you actually do secure the OS, the profiles become corrupted the first time MS forces out a big update like SP1 for Windows 7 and users loose the ability to do simple things like setup a local printer.

    Their desire to bridge home and work is out of a desire to only have to develop one system, not a desire to make things easier for the consumer.
    • Yup

      [i]"Their desire to bridge home and work is out of a desire to only have to develop one system, not a desire to make things easier for the consumer."[/i]

      Summarized perfectly.
    • The biggest truth out there

      [i]Their desire to bridge home and work is out of a desire to only have to develop one system, not a desire to make things easier for the consumer.[/i]

      And this is it.
    • Why is this bad??

      "Their desire to bridge home and work is out of a desire to only have to develop one system"

      Why is this bad?? You make it sound as if MS has some malicious intention here??
      • You deliberately left out part of the quote

        Don't forget the rest. I could care less what's good for Microsoft.
  • re: Rubbish

    [q]"Cobblers: M$ has shot itself in the foot by locking down ARM outside ADS and forcing METRO on customers."[/q]

    It's seemed to work out okay for Apple.
    • johnfenjack$on didn't want you to bring that up

      kind of make$ irrational hater$ like him look $illy.

      William Farrel
    • Really? Apple forced the iOS interface on OS X desktop users?

      When did this happen?