Win 8 compatibility an issue for Asian firms

Deeper integration with legacy applications, particularly specialized systems, is something enterprises and developers hope Microsoft will pay attention to as adoption for the new OS grows.
Written by Kevin Kwang, Contributor on

Existing development tools and enterprise support for Windows 8 for have been "incredibly powerful" but as the operating system matures and more companies adopt the platform, Microsoft will have to step up their efforts to provide greater integration for legacy applications particularly specialized systems.

Mark Macumber, lead consultant at Australian consultancy and software development company, Object Consulting, said Windows 8 has "a lot to offer" to today's enterprises which have a more complex IT footprint than in the past.

Mobility, security and management, and integrated GPS (global positioning system) are some of the top features business customers are demanding for. Mobile device management (MDM) for Windows 8-powered tablets, in particular, is a strong proposition as these devices provide flexibility for enterprises to enable mobile workers inside buildings and in the field, Macumber pointed out.

As it is, tooling and operating system support for developers working on Windows 8 applications is "incredibly powerful" as Microsoft had covered all aspects including design, test, package and deploy, he said.

However, as adoption for Windows 8 grows and enterprise requirements increase, the software giant will have to respond quickly to plug any gaps with regard to providing better compatibility with existing legacy apps, the consultant added.

"Microsoft will need to maintain its current velocity [for OS development] to avoid the proliferation of workaround solutions and keep up with demand for running [legacy] applications in the enterprise," Macumber suggested.

His view was echoed by a Singapore-based CIO. Steve Lee, CIO and senior vice president of technology at Changi Airport Group (CAG), said the company is currently upgrading its systems to Windows 7 but waiting to do the same with Windows 8 given that there are some compatibility issues with its older applications.

"We have some specialized systems that may not work with Windows 8. For example, these could be operational systems that are working now and it may not be wise to change anything until CAG upgrades the systems," Lee explained. "Our administrative systems, such as the human resource systems that will be upgraded soon, may not work with the OS too."

He acknowledged Windows 8, compared to earlier versions of Windows, provides a more compelling business case with regard to bring-your-own-device (BYOD) and mobility trends. He said CAG was exploring avenues for deployment of the new OS in its customer-facing systems.

Alvaro Celis, vice president of Microsoft Asia-Pacific, had earlier said companies can continue to deploy Windows 7 across their organizations first, since the interoperability between both OSes is good. He did not say whether earlier versions of Windows would have the same level of compatibility though.

Better monetization option
Microsoft itself is touting the platform commonality and shared core between Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 as one of the key features for enterprise developers. Said Zahedani, general manager of developer and platform evangelism at Microsoft Asia-Pacific, explained: "It enables developers to quickly get from a great idea to a money-making app, running on multiple devices by reusing their skills and, in some cases, the actual code built using a common toolset in Visual Studio."

Additionally, the software vendor is offering developers the "best economics available" in terms of revenue share. Zahedani said Windows 8 developers who publish apps on the Windows Store will have 70 percent share of every sale made and Microsoft will pocket the remaining 30 percent--which is the industry norm. The difference is the vendor will increase developers' cut to 80 percent once the app generates US$25,000 in sales, he said.

"Other platforms only offer 70-30 and don't reward developers for writing great apps," Zahedani noted.

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