Microsoft's business pitch for Windows 8 depends on tablets

Microsoft may be facing a wicked brew---consumerization and recent Windows 7 upgrades---when it comes to making the Windows 8 case to corporations.

Microsoft pitched its Windows 8 case for businesses, but corporations are going to need to hear more to buy into the new operating system. In fact, businesses will need to hear more from their employees than Microsoft and the IT department.

CNET News' Stephen Shankland was on scene in Hanover, Germany as Microsoft operating chief Kevin Turner outlined the business benefits of Windows 8. In a nutshell, Windows 8 is designed to give consumers and corporations what they want. Turner talked about security and the nuances of sideloading apps.

The catch? Microsoft needs consumers to hop on board the Windows 8 bandwagon and bring Microsoft-powered tablets to work. Turner said:

The consumerization of IT–consumers bringing technology into the workplace–is something all companies must embrace.

Indeed, Apple has embraced consumerization. You can twirl in a circle at many companies and hit someone with an iPad. In just a few hours you'll be running into co-workers yapping about the iPad 3 (HD). And that reality explains why Microsoft may be in a bit of a bind with Windows 8.

See also: How Windows 8 will allow administrators to sideload and manage apps | Shortcuts and surprises in the Windows 8 Consumer Preview | Some possibly not-so-good news for business users with Windows 8

Consider the following:

  • Corporations just upgraded to Windows 7 and Windows 8 looks dramatically different. It's hard for corporations to justify two operating system upgrades in four years. Let's face it: Companies, including many still on XP, can milk Windows 7 for a decade.
  • It's unclear whether Windows 8 can be all things to all customers. Touch and keyboard capable? Show me. Seamless Office integration. Show me. ROI? Really show me.
  • Consumers will have to drive the Windows 8 bus. I'm looking forward to Windows 8 tablets only because the Android army has botched numerous attempts to storm the Apple iPad beaches. Windows 8 could be a tablet juggernaut. However, the tablet story for Windows 8 is also a show-me tale. Show me consumers will buy a Windows 8 tablet over an iPad. Show me Windows 8 tablets can be a viable No. 2. Show me I won't be a technology leper if I carry a Windows 8 tablet around.

Those three items equate to a wicked brew for the business case for Windows 8. Microsoft can overcome these challenges with some secret enterprise sauce---a great Office interface on the tablet, SharePoint integration and other goodies---but there's a large hill to climb.