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1/17/2013
10:05 AM
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Windows 8 Rollout: One SMB's Story

At McCoy Tree Surgery, a major technology refresh happening now includes Windows 8, Server 2012 and Office 2013. The firm's IT chief shares the upgrade strategy.

10 Great Windows 8 Apps
10 Great Windows 8 Apps
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Return on investment can be a bit of a tightrope act for some small and midsize businesses (SMBs). The business case for Kleine's upgrade approach didn't involve much in the way of circus tricks. "For us, it was very easy because we took that long-term approach. We did the timing correctly," he said. "By the numbers, we probably should have replaced all of this equipment a year ago -- so we got an extra year of value out of those other machines. As far as return on investment, it's really replacement investment because of that timing [and] the way we planned it out."

Kleine isn't diving blind into the Windows 8 waters; he has been using it on his own machine since early preview versions were available. "We [tested] our entire [software] suite on Windows 8," he said. "We were paying great attention to the beta." Testing has produced plenty of application compatibility issues with Windows 8, but Kleine said the OS has done a good job of identifying and helping to resolve those problems in largely automated fashion. "It has been more events, but the machine has taken care of it for us," Kleine said.

The single, integrated tech refresh will also help Kleine clear a key Windows 8 hurdle: User training. Microsoft's new "modern UI" need to be planned for in a corporate deployment.

"My adaptation is to teach people that [the] Windows key is their friend and make sure that they know how to tap that once to get the old style, and once to get the new style," Kleine said. "[Windows 8] is not something you just lay out in front of [users]. You do need to spend five to 10 minutes going through some of the keystrokes and the mouse positions to train that new user interface. I will say that everyone we have pushed in that direction has [eventually] liked it better than the XP or Windows 7 model, but it is change."

To ease the pains associated with such change, Kleine started with smaller Windows 8 installations with key staff to get them comfortable with the new OS. Those employees will ultimately help evangelize and train other folks as the deployment widens. "I always liken it to putting your toes in the water," Kleine said.

Touchscreen capabilities are on Kleine's radar, but not really for PC users. Rather, the next phase of the IT upgrade involves rolling out Windows Phone 8 devices to employees in the tree crews. They'll use their smartphones primarily for entering timesheets and productivity.

Tablets, on the other hand, are not a big part of McCoy hardware portfolio -- Windows-based or otherwise. "It's probably going to be desktops [and] laptops," Kleine said. "For our environment -- outdoors and high sun -- tablets don't tend to work too well. We tend to have contrast issues."

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Smithy01
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Smithy01,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/18/2013 | 10:44:09 PM
re: Windows 8 Rollout: One SMB's Story
As per any new OS install you will often be prompted for many updates and reboots. Part of the process unfortunately, and is no different to Win7. Win8 will update with less reboots required (after the initial batch) so it will be less painful that Win7 rebooting itself overnight without asking you (default setting). Win8 will tell you that it will reboot in 2 days if you don't. The UI: there are many new gestures to learn. You can re-organise the menu including grouping, naming and re-positioning. Admittedly, this works much more easily on a touch screen, but you can still do it with a mouse and keyboard. You can also remove individual executable tiles if you don't want to see them. Just right click on the tile and select Unpin from Start. The charms do take a while to get used to. But here is a tip: when you want to find something, in fact anything, simply press the Windows button on your keyboard to get back to the UI and start typing whatever it is that you want: files, apps, web sites, things within apps (that support the UI search) and you can very quickly get to where you need to go. For example, start typing lance Armstrong from the UI, scroll down in the charm menu to the News App, and click enter. This will fire up the News app and go straight to any news story on lance Armstrong. And then if you use the Charm bar again, you can select share, and any app that can accept sharing requests such as the mail app, and very quickly share to friends. And as far as Win8 goes, do a Google search for the comments on the new UI for XP 11-12 years ago, and they are remarkably similar to the comments today for Win8. How time changes, yet stays the same...
SMB Kevin
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SMB Kevin,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/18/2013 | 3:06:42 PM
re: Windows 8 Rollout: One SMB's Story
@moarsauce123 - I like the idea of a follow-up. Duly noted.

As for user buy-in, not sure I agree. It's one of his key priorities and challenges in the deployment. To that end, he started small with key employees to introduce Win8 into the organization. Per his quote, the reception has generally been positive once people get used to the changes.

Of course, your (or anyone else's) mileage may vary.

-Kevin C.
InformationWeek.com
SkyRanger
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SkyRanger,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/18/2013 | 2:25:37 PM
re: Windows 8 Rollout: One SMB's Story
Moarsuace, thanks for making my point more clearly. The bottom left corner of the "new and improved" UI drove me crazy; I am also noting the difficulty in trying to select the power options popout bar which is performed by mousing to the lower right side of the desktop. I fought with my mouse to SUMMON the option bar like a snake handler coaxing the cobra out of a basket!
~ Another note on the charming UI. 90% of the time when I brought up the default view, I had to right click my mouse to "show all" of the "Fisher Price" icons before I could find the one I needed; clicking, clicking, clicking...
I also agree that W8 was designed for a tablet or phone, where Intel and others are unfortunately are spending the majority of their resources. The desktop is still the work horse of computers and l hope they get back to improving it soon...
~ GAProgrammer, yes I am bashing W8 but I am a huge fan of Microsoft... just very disappointed in the product. I found myself spending too much time trying to make W8 look and feel like W7. It was enough to cure me from even considering another venture.
I am a happy W7 user again. :)
moarsauce123
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moarsauce123,
User Rank: Ninja
1/18/2013 | 12:57:47 PM
re: Windows 8 Rollout: One SMB's Story
Actually, updating Win8 is weird. You request the current updates, get presented with a bunch of them, install, reboot (why?), then ask for current updates again: low and behold, there is another batch that requires install and yet again a reboot. At times I have to do this three times plus an additional check to make sure that all the updates are found and installed.
As for the modern UI, there is no way to organize the tiles in hierarchical levels as it was possible with the old Start menu. Also, by default every executable gets a tile on the modern UI. Ever installed SQL Server on Win8? Management Studio is placed in the modern UI as prominent as the configuration tools that get used maybe once or twice. That makes absolutely no sense. Also, accessing the modern UI from the desktop requires to move the pointer to the lower left corner, waiting for the tile to pop up, and then click. That landing space is not only ridiculously small, that area cannot be used for anything else. So why not just keep a button there, make it more obvious, and thus easier to use? And showing the charm bar in desktop mode always shows the gargantuan clock. Why? And how come that we still need to use the command line for so many things? Win8 does not bring anything beneficial to the table for the desktop user. Quite contrary, it makes desktop users less productive as many common tasks take more clicks and with the removal of buttons and reorganizing of pretty much everything established patterns are replaced by new, but not better patterns. On top of that, the modern UI looks as if a FisherPrice toy barfed all over the monitor.
Win8 may make sense on a tablet, but for a desktop it is indeed an epic fail. Plenty of people told Microsoft exactly that during the various beta phases, yet absolutely none of the input was used. Now Microsoft is wondering why people don't like it. If a company is that ignorant and careless then it should not wonder about their new product doing worse than their previously worse product.
moarsauce123
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moarsauce123,
User Rank: Ninja
1/18/2013 | 12:46:06 PM
re: Windows 8 Rollout: One SMB's Story
The article doesn't state anything about end-user buy-in. All these IT dreams go bust if the end-users loathe to use the new stuff. I also suggest to report a follow up in a year to see how productivity developed with Win8. Based on my empirical and subjective studies productivity will go down because Win8 is dysfunctional and unintuitive. In general, the modern UI brings no benefits unless you use a tablet and even then there are already better solutions at lower cost available today.
The article also states nothing about Kleine evaluating alternatives. Was that even done? Or is it yet another business that has the Microsoft blinders on?
GAProgrammer
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GAProgrammer,
User Rank: Ninja
1/17/2013 | 7:19:39 PM
re: Windows 8 Rollout: One SMB's Story
Hrm, look, another Win8 basher....I am so shocked! /sarcasm off

The new look is not that different for most applications, which is where users are focused 80% of the time.

Updates are a nightmare, really? REALLY? Makes me doubt that you did more than load it up, decide it was bad and turned it off.
SkyRanger
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SkyRanger,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/17/2013 | 6:21:31 PM
re: Windows 8 Rollout: One SMB's Story
I tried Windows 8; it created more steps (clicks) to do the same work as Windows 7.
The new look and layout was cluttered. When I started or opened a program in W8's "slider window", it defaults back to the static W7 desktop view (which made no sense).
You also lose the most wonderful feature of all from every recent Windows version, the "Start" button!
Also, the updates were a nightmare. I saw no business value in W8 over W7. EPIC FAIL!
Clearly a small company strategy driven by a small IT shop.

I am happy to be back on W7 and truly feel sorry for those forced to "UPGRADE".
Good luck...
Verdumont Monte
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Verdumont Monte,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/17/2013 | 5:50:40 PM
re: Windows 8 Rollout: One SMB's Story
Actually, Once you get past first few days, Win 8 is delight to use. But of course there will be a lot of resistance initially, but Win 8 has lot of enterprise friendly features. I have been using the OS for 3+ months now, I have few minor gripes, but overall, it is a winner. Office 2013, On the other hand, unless you have an existing SA agreement with MS, is not worth the upgrade. If you have office 2010, you are better off with that.
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