Windows 8 Executive Summary: Book review

Windows 8 Executive Summary: Book review

Summary: This book is neither a replacement manual nor a lengthy review: instead, it's a guide to what Windows 8 can and can't do for a business.


One day a technology historian will write a doctoral dissertation on the changes in computing paradigm in the late 20th and early 21st centuries through the medium of Microsoft Windows. There was the desktop metaphor, which persisted through XP. Then there was the search metaphor, which dominated Windows 7. Now everything has to look like a tablet — or perhaps a child's toy, where you push a big, brightly coloured button and Something (Exciting) Happens.

But what a business needs to know is not so much what Microsoft was thinking as what challenges and opportunities the new operating system will present. For the huge number of businesses that have stuck with Windows XP (recent figures show it neck-and-neck with Windows 7 at around 38 percent), this is a particularly important question. Support for XP ends in 2014: do you go for the known quantity of Windows 7, or jump an entire generation and head for the less-certain hills of Windows 8?

This is the question that long-serving technology journalists (and ZDNet bloggers) Mary Branscombe and Simon Bisson set out to answer in the interests of helping businesses make informed decisions.


As they say up front, Windows 8 Executive Summary is neither a replacement manual nor a lengthy review: instead, it's a guide to what Microsoft's new OS will and won't do for a business, written by people who've already spent more than 1,500 hours with the software.

The first point: if you were hoping that, despite its different look, Windows 8 isn't really much of a change, forget it. But, the authors argue, that's not necessarily a bad thing. If you do it right, your approach to IT infrastructure should undergo a transformation that helps your business innovate rather than simply solving problems in a piecemeal manner. Standardise, automate and consolidate.

To be fair, a lot of this material is not necessarily specifically about Windows 8. Whenever a major change in operating system comes along, it's an opportunity to implement a change of approach to IT. What Branscombe and Bisson are trying to get across, however, are the ways in which computing will change in the coming decade, for which Windows 8 is designed. Touchscreens will dominate, for example, as will mobile phones. One consequence is that it's no longer feasible to ban personal devices: data can't be protected by keeping it securely within a perimeter — instead, it must be protected wherever it happens to be, on whatever device.

By the end of this book, you may not like Windows 8 as much as Branscombe and Bisson seem to. But at least you'll be clear whether it's the devil you're going to need to know in the coming years.

Windows 8 Executive Summary: What Your Business Needs to Know
By Mary Branscombe and Simon Bisson
FairTrade DX
ISBN: 978-1-9384250-3-5
£13.59 (paperback) / £6.62 (Kindle edition)

Topics: Windows, Reviews, After Hours

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  • so even the authors of a book can't find a great ROI for Windows 8?

    A lot of the material is not about Windows 8, and what material there is shows that there isn't much change? Then why bother? Why spend millions updating systems and confusing the bejeezus out of people with Metro if there is really no ROI and no significant differences to do so? Sounds like an exercise in spending money, gaining a few minor features (ex. file copy, included av, etc), reducing a number of features (ie. single Metro view, end-user confusion), for no gain to the business.
    • well

      there gets to be a point where people are using new versions at home, and when they come into the office they might actually feel less familiar with their workstation if the company doesn't upgrade. business doesn't want to be on the bleeding edge, but they can't afford to be left behind for the same reason.
  • bejeezus

    so you're at work and a little stiff in the neck and now you might be able to touch "bejeezus" and get a definition or something.. ha almost sounds fun.. yeah a little optimism
    • lol!

  • It will be up to developers and an innovative IT staff to rollout

    As the subject line suggests, it will be those resources who will have to push the windows 8 / server 2012 platforms into the business world...

    To back my statement:

    Windows 8 Developers can leverage the notification system in windows 8 as a way to communicate across the organization - it is a non-intrusive but in-your-face messaging system that windows 8 employs - where users can clearly be notified of events (calendar, announcements, etc) within an organization - pushed to the windows system desktop or metro UI...

    IT staff can rollout w8 on pc, tablets, and phones, leveraging the OS transparency across devices - that is what windows 8 is all about...

    Plus, w8 by design, is a true secure computing platform through and through, leveraging the latest in secure hardware platforms. Android does not have that on any of it's devices. Not sure about Apple (ipads, iphones, etc) - If anyone can quantify the statements I just made about Android / Apple, please do. I need fact.

    But what I do know, is that the w8 / server 2012 platforms adhere to trusted secure hardware, and depend on it - even when leveraging windows mail / exchange etc.

    So, for corporate situations, where staff needs mobility, transparent connectivity to the office (network, data) resources, windows 8 is it... for now...

    I'll give you a good example of what I do. and I will preload my example here - letting you know I own an iPad and an Android phone - both of which have exchange connectivity and have remote desktop capabilities, which is nice, but I require more...

    If I had a windows 8 surface tablet, it'd not only be truly connected to the business resources but I do not have to concern myself with application transparency, document conversion, remote desktop connectivity. The surface tablet will provide me a full 100% experience like as if it were a Microsoft laptop or desktop pc. Real applications (Office, developer tools, financial tools, quicken, firefox, anything...) and solid vpn (or newer secure connectivity) to office networks are what the windows 8 platform on surface promises...

    And, if I so choose, I could in fact replace the surface OS with windows 7 - cant beat that.

    I can map any network drive, printer, etc within the surface tablet - done, end of story.

    With Apple or Android I have to do a lot of hoop jumping; and any application that attempts to do the same as what I can find on a pc, simply is not close to the same, I would have to depend on some form of cloud service to do syncing or have some cobbled together translation programs or file transfer programs to manage business - YUK.... Who wants that

    The Windows 8 family of OS's has similar consumable applications via the Microsoft online store - same as Apple, and Android, but the core of the Windows 8 family is still pc / productivity based at heart; thus lending itself to true productivity at the end of the day...

    I plan on triple booting between 8, 7 and one server OS off of the 128GB i5 surface tablet - just for fun, but will probably back down to a single OS - that being Windows Server 2012 on the surface tablet - why?

    Here is why:

    I am a web developer whose primary focus is developing with Microsoft products (visual studio, sql server, etc). And Windows Server 2012 is the perfect platform to do all those tasks, and to boot, with one command line entry, can turn on the Windows Desktop Experience - yielding the same features as Windows 8 pro, thus allowing me to have work and play on the same tablet. Cant beat that...

    It's all about two things, transparency and the ability to be connected with one's self...

    We struggle to do that you know. It's not so much being connected to each other (socially) - we do that already (facebook, email, flickr, twitter etc), but what most of our devices fail to achieve right now - is the ability to truly be connected to ourselves.

    The Microsoft Windows 8 OS breaks the transparency barrier. The cloud is now clear...
    Robert Garfinkle
  • I'm very skeptical about a book written about Win 8

    and what it can and cannot do for business, boasting that it is written by people who have spent 1500 hours with the software. The RTM was JUST released, not a lot of time to have a book ALREADY written. Just how many people spent 1500 hours with the software anyway? To add insult to injury, not much of the book is Win 8 specific?