Windows 8 has been met with a tepid reception from the enterprise sector, but Microsoft expects to win businesses over with the new operating system's mobile security and management features to address the rise of the mobile workforce, according to Microsoft Australia business group lead Tina Flammer.
At the Australian Windows 8 launch today, there was a lot of emphasis on what the operating system can bring to consumers and small businesses. Those are the segments that Microsoft wants to target initially, according to Flammer, but she said that it doesn't mean that Microsoft isn't looking to court larger enterprises with Windows 8.
One of the biggest drawcards of the operating system is that it can operate seamlessly across desktop and mobile devices, particularly touchscreen devices such as tablets. Microsoft Australia general manager Pip Marlow said that Windows 8 "makes touch a first-class citizen," and that it is suitable for home and office life.
But so far, businesses have not responded well to Windows 8. The Commonwealth Bank said it is inevitable that it will adopt Windows 8, but it is actively seeking viable alternatives. Gartner has predicted that 90 percent of large organisations will not adopt the new operating system broadly, and that this is unlikely to change anytime soon.
Flammer disagreed, and claimed that the top worry for CIOs today is how to manage a mobile workforce with a broad range of devices — and said that this is exactly what Windows 8 can address.
"Workers want a device they can enjoy, and the IT side of the business need to have the security and management to deal with across that," Flammer told ZDNet at the Windows 8 launch in Sydney. "That's what Windows 8 provides — incredible 'no compromise' devices that everybody loves, but devices that now have stronger security and management."
Flammer said that Microsoft gives organisations a choice on how they want to deploy the new operating system, should they choose to do so.
"Windows 8 was built on the best operating system of all time, which was Windows 7," she said. "It runs side by side with Windows 7, so whether you want to go all the way to deploying Windows 8 right away, or you're already on Windows 7, it works beautifully.
"We have dozens of customers today that are in Windows 8 pilots, that are building Windows 8 line of business applications, so we are seeing a very positive response to the operating system.
At the launch event today, Microsoft confirmed that Windows 8 is only available as an upgrade in Australia, and consumers will not be able to buy the full version of the operating system.
This makes it currently impossible in Australia to install Windows 8 on new hardware, which is bad news for PC enthusiasts who are looking to put the operating system on a brand-new machine. The only way to have a copy of Windows 8 up and running is to already have a device running Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Windows 7, and to buy and install the upgrade to Windows 8.
Developers and IT professionals who are subscribers to Microsoft's TechNet and MSDN offerings have been able to get their hands on full digital copies of Windows 8 since August 1.
A boxed version of Windows 8 can be purchased for AU$69.99, while a digital download version will set you back AU$39.99 through the Microsoft website.