Does Windows 8 belong on business desktops?

Moderated by Jason Hiner | November 26, 2012 -- 07:00 GMT (23:00 PST)

Summary: Eventually, sure. But how much training and testing does this touch-enabled operating system deserve?

Lawrence Dignan

Lawrence Dignan

Upgrade now


Not so fast

Christopher Dawson

Christopher Dawson

Best Argument: Not so fast


Audience Favored: Not so fast (69%)

Closing Statements

The circle of life

Lawrence Dignan

Every release of Microsoft Windows has contained elements deemed controversial or not ready for business. Meanwhile, the consumer and end-user world simply moves on with new PC purchases and preloads of the new release as well as upgrade installs. Businesses eventually catch up with the consumer OS upgrade cycle. This is the way it has always been, and it is not going to change anytime soon.

It's true that Windows 8's new Start Screen and accompanying Windows 8 Store applications may not have a ton of drivers to compel business to upgrade right away. And those enterprise that have just finished upgrading to Windows 7 may not see much value in the Windows 8 -- yet.

But there are still many enterprises that are stuck on Windows XP and have delayed desktop refreshes for a long time, using large numbers of end-of-life systems. It makes sense for them to go with what is on the OEM preloads, which will be Windows 8. And enterprises which have Windows 7 can easily assimilate new PCs with Windows 8 into their existing environments without a whole lot of fuss, since the new OS runs all of Windows 7's applications.

Wait until Service Pack 1

Christopher Dawson

This debate isn't about the merits of Windows 8. There will always be resistance to change and Windows 8 has it in droves. That said, most reviewers and early adopters like the new OS and are thrilled about the hardware innovation it's inspiring.

The problem is that all of this new hardware, all of these new approaches, and the overall move towards touch is very much in its infancy. The question isn't whether users and businesses will embrace Windows 8 but rather when they should. Now is the time for pilots, exploration, and testing. However, when so many businesses have only recently migrated fully to Windows 7, even more are struggling in a stagnant economy, and Windows 8 delivers most of its value through touch (which is hardly ubiquitous outside tablets and smartphones), businesses should be sticking to the "Wait until Service Pack 1" rule before adopting Windows 8 en masse.

Windows 8 not ready for business

Jason Hiner

This debate offered two legitimately different perspectives on how the enterprise should approach Windows 8 deployments on the desktop. As Larry pointed out, if you're still on Windows XP, there's an argument to be made for just moving your latest upgrades to Windows 8 and not Windows 7. It could save you some effort later, and Windows 8 does offer security and performance improvements that aren't insignificant. However, because of Windows 8 being so tied to the touchscreen experience, I have to agree with Chris that Windows 8 "is really not optimized for a standard desktop computing experience." And, for that reason, he gets the nod and businesses should be very wary about using Windows 8 on their standard PCs. There's just not enough value to match all of the pain and inconvenience of learning a radical new user interface.


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  • Now this will be interesting...

    It's good to see that neither person is a patented Windows 8-hater, which means the discussion can center around whether the OS is good for enterprises now, or whether corporate upgrades should hold off until further testing.

    Personally, I'm for a more hybrid approach, as Larry hints at the end of his opening statement. I think that some new Windows 8 machines could be added to a Windows 7 environment without many complications. This would especially be true for hybrid PCs for those in the field. Rather than pay for a $1000 daily-driver laptop, why not pay for a $1000 iCore hybrid PC with a dock? I don't know that I would go Atom in the enterprise (though Dell's Latitude tablet is compelling with its replaceable battery).

    As for XP houses skipping Windows 7 for 8, I'm undecided. I could argue this, but I think you'd need to do extra prep work due to the new interface. Win 7 is less of a jump for sure, but there will still be moaning and complaining with that. Why not deal with all the problems at once? I could make the arguement either way, and really it depends on the organization and the competency of the people. If you are dealing with an organization where not many of the employees are tech-savvy, then no. Go with 7. But if the organization has more of a technical aptitude or is used to changing software, etc., then maybe go with 8.

    This will be an interesting argument for sure.
    Reply 1 Vote I'm for Upgrade now
    • Win 8 Hybrids can help.

      My organization is looking to Windows 8 Hybrid/Tabs to improve customer interaction. Our users will be able to interact and assist customers with a Hybrid/tablet device anywhere on the floor. At that point they can take the data back to a desk and manipulate it on the same device without switching back to a desktop. Win 8 allows us to do this....We've looked at solutions from Apple and Android but they don't meet our strict security requirements. Windows 8 allows us to leverage modern mobile tech with our existing infrastructure to improve productivity.
      Reply Vote I'm Undecided
      • customer service

        Funny what you say about security of Android and iOS, but your company must be dealing more sensitive and secret data than NSA, The Department of Homeland Security, CIA... well... you are after all working with clients at floor doing customer service ;-)
        Reply Vote I'm Undecided
  • Opps. Meant argument

    (not "arguement")
    Reply Vote I'm for Upgrade now
  • Windows 8 or W8 ~ [Wait]

    Enterprises have just finished their Windows 7 deployments, if that. They are likely to wait a long time before considering another upgrade. Waiting will for most also mean waiting for something post Windows 8 (blue?) and not just Windows 8 later.

    Worrying however to hear that HP has stated that they will not (always?) support downgrading PC's. I am sure customers will be looking for PC's that do support downgrading to Windows 7 and prefer those than support this over the Windows 8 only choices.
    Reply 5 Votes I'm for Not so fast
    • Not necessarily. I work for a university and we are movimg to Windows 8

      We moved to Windows Vista on an aggressive timeline and abandoned it for Windows 7 just as quickly. We leverage hardware lifecycles religiously but we do not ignore the needs of BYOD(students are the ultimate BYOD population) and we need to support, as quickly as possible, the latest hardware ad software in order to meet their academic needs and the needs of their faculty.
      M Wagner
      Reply Vote I'm Undecided
      • And not all of us have finished

        At my own stomping ground, we are still in the process of shifting to W7 from WXP and have a lot of time and resources invested in getting our users across, not to mention the ridiculous amount of legacy software we have to address in order to do it. I'd rather have our user base in one place (I don't want to return to the days when we mixed WXP, W2K and, dare I say it, W98 on one site) and with the work already under way, changing yet again just isn't on.
        Reply 1 Vote I'm Undecided
        • with you

          i'm in the same boat. we are just going to 7 from xp, w2k. we've been trying a few new desktops with 8 and have gotten a no thanks from up stairs big shots. to much legacy software and incompatable hardware.
          Reply 1 Vote I'm Undecided
          • Incompatiblities?

            First I hear of that. All software and hardware that works with 7 will work with 8. If there is no Windows 8 driver yet the Windows 7 driver (or even Windows Vista driver) will do as they share the same kernel.

            As for legacy software, besides a switch from 32 to 64 bits or switching from IE 9 to 10 I don't see where things would work in 7 and not in 8.

            Unless you were referring to XP, but then the same issues would pop in both Windows 7 and 8.

            Besides the missing start menu and the removal of Aero glass, nothing's different on the desktop sides of 7 and 8, Windows 8 being even a little faster.
            Reply Vote I'm Undecided
          • 8 is not just 7 with touch support

            I use Classic Shell Menu with XP, 7 and 8 because I still prefer the classic menu format. When I found I could make 8 look and feel pretty much exactly like 7 (both with that addition), I promptly switched.

            At first I thought it was great, but it's turned into a nightmare. What no one is mentioning is MS went absolutely crazy with security. Users who just do wordprocessing, spreadsheets, email, etc., won't know the difference. But power users who edit scripts, etc., quickly find out 8 keeps refusing edit/run permissions. Even running something as administrator isn't high enough.

            Of course, like most power users, I may not use a script every few days. So I didn't notice at first.

            Also, older machines that run 7 fine may not even install 8. 8 REQUIRES a processor that supports PAE and the NX/XD bit. My "built from spare parts" computer (2005-era mobo & socket 478 Celeraon) runs 7 but after the install spent 90 minutes copying files, etc., just as it was about to finish it gave me an error code indicating "processor not supported". Turns out the socket 478-series processors don't support the NX(AMD)/XD(Intel) bit.
            Reply 1 Vote I'm Undecided