Microsoft has just released the upgrade to Windows 8 (matter-of-factly called Windows 8.1). What does it mean for small businesses and should they upgrade?
Definitely upgrade. It's free, it brings some great user interface enhancements, search improvements, and makes Windows 8 feel polished. It's definitely worth its cost (free for existing Windows 8 users!).
What are the new features that relate to small businesses - businesses that don’t have dedicated IT departments or network administrators.
- With the ability to snap multiple applications to the screen (up to 4 on 1 monitor, depending on resolution and up to 8 on 2 monitors) and the additional customizations to live tiles (able to change sizes), there’s more reason than ever to provide your workforce with larger monitors. Big screen translates into improved productivity!
- Better-integrated Skydrive (cloud storage and syncing) means it's easier for an employee to sit at any Windows 8.1-powered computer and have immediate access to their documents. Broken computers, hot-desking, etc. become more manageable.
- Search improvements. In Windows 8 the search was split into different sections; it could be frustrating and confusing when a user is searching for a setting and they're getting no results since they were only searching across applications. In 8.1, search consolidates everything (Web pages, documents, applications, and etc.) and presents it attractively. This should also translate into improved productivity.
- Automatic app updates from the Windows Store help effortlessly patch applications as well as keep the system more secure… assuming the update doesn't interfere with some other part of the OS.
- Internet Explorer 11 loads web pages faster, syncs tabs across devices, and has touch-screen enhancements.
There are plenty of improvements geared towards enterprise environments, including Workplace Join, Work Folders, and etc--I focused on the features that a small business would immediately find useful.