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10/24/2012
05:14 PM
Kurt Marko
Kurt Marko
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Windows 8: A Bridge Too Far For Enterprises?

Windows 8 may end up marking the moment when people stopped caring about PC operating systems.

8 Key Differences Between Windows 8 And Windows RT
8 Key Differences Between Windows 8 And Windows RT
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
The wait is over. Windows 8 arrives for real this week and we'll soon see whether the product Steve Ballmer admits is a bigger deal to Microsoft than the epically successful Windows 95 will live up to the company's hype and expectations. Although this isn't a "bet the company" moment--Microsoft is no longer a one-trick pony and is much less dependent on PC sales than it was in the mid-90s, as Windows now constitutes a smaller share of its revenue than applications (i.e. Office) or server software--it will chart the company's course for years to come.

Will Microsoft finally become a legitimate rival to Apple and the Google ecosystem in mobile devices or will it be forced further into the background, in the mold of IBM and Oracle, as an IT infrastructure supplier? Will Windows 8 be the catalyst that injects life into a moribund PC market that's clearly suffering from a severe case of iPad hangover, with Apple providing another dose of pain by unveiling the low-priced Mini earler in the week, or end up another Vista; the OS everyone can do without? We'll get our first hints shortly as the holiday shopping season kicks into gear. After reviewing Windows 8 for our InformationWeek Windows 8 Survival Guide, one thing seems certain: It wasn't designed with enterprises in mind.

As even the most casual technology watcher knows by now, the biggest changes in Windows 8 also happen to be the most visible: a new touchscreen and tablet-friendly UI still known as Metro (despite Microsoft's desire to banish the term to the Internet's memory hole). Although our Windows 8 poll found more people like the interface than not, as I write in the report, "A big turn off for most users is that Windows 8 sticks you with Metro as the default home screen whether you like it or not; there's no option to automatically drop back to the Windows desktop you know and its familiar Start Menu and Task Bar, although these (save the Start Menu) are still easily accessible under the covers. Fully 62% of our respondents say that inability to disable the new interface will slow or preclude their deployment."

Opinion of Windows 8 Metro Interface

But it's not just the tile-based interface that will wreak havoc with IT departments fielding questions from befuddled users, it's the fact that Windows 8 really wants to be touched. Although the new Windows works fine on old, non-touch, hardware, indeed that's how I tested the product, at best it's a suboptimal situation and at worst can be downright exasperating. While Windows 7 did support touch, it was largely ignored both by users and vendors; but with Windows 8, Microsoft went all in. As I note in the report, the touch experience starts from the moment you want to log on, "The Metro start screen uses a swipe gesture to expose the new Charms bar (a normally hidden icon bar allowing quick access to search, sharing, system settings and application switching) to such a degree that without a touch screen device the user experience is somewhat frustrating, forcing you to hover the mouse in 'magic' screen regions." It's primarily for this reason that I advise IT decision makers, but the same holds for consumers, to limit Windows 8 to new hardware. Don't bother upgrading existing systems; the few modest benefits, better memory management, easier Wi-Fi configuration, a faster browser, aren't worth the UI hassles.

Windows 8's schizophrenia isn't just limited to the UI though. In trying to counter the iPad juggernaut, Microsoft has developed a non-x86 version, Windows RT, designed for lower-cost tablets and "laplets" (laptop-tablet hybrids). RT is a strange stepchild to the mainstream product as: (a) it won't run existing applications (since it doesn't use Intel hardware), (b) only uses the Metro UI (there's no traditional desktop to fall back on since you'll need new, Metro apps anyway), (c) is only available bundled with a device, not as a standalone product (again, what's the point since you'll need new hardware anyway) and (d) includes a version of Office (so at least you'll have something to run). While RT may be a hit with consumers (although by not undercutting iPad on price, why bother with the imitation when you can have the real thing?), it's a complete nonstarter for enterprises. Sure, you can read and edit Office docs, but in this age of webmail and other cloud applications like SaaS collaboration software, and countless Office-compatible apps, with the possible exception of Excel, who really cares anymore? RT won't run any of your custom Windows software, costs as much as the iPad or other high-end Android alternatives like the Asus Transformer Infinity and Galaxy Note, is a first generation product (unlike iPad and Android hardware that's had over two years of refinement) and still requires a keyboard to effectively use the headline app, Office. Business users looking for the all-in-one, PC-tablet experience might as well spring an extra $500 for a new touch-sensitive notebook like Lenovo's sexy Yoga 13.

Windows 8 appears to be one of those Veg-O-Matic-type products with Microsoft trying to do too much at once: please both mobile device and PC users, those migrating from the PC world and those looking for a new tablet experience, buyers looking for a low-cost PC companion and those running high-end ultrabooks. And like most hybrid compromises, it ends up doing an adequate, but far from stellar, job at any given task. Instead of being Microsoft's answer to the iPad, Windows 8 may end up marking the moment when people stopped caring about PC operating systems.

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GAProgrammer
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GAProgrammer,
User Rank: Ninja
10/26/2012 | 5:05:39 PM
re: Windows 8: A Bridge Too Far For Enterprises?
"The operating system either helps with doing those things or gets in the way."

Well said....
moonwatcher
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moonwatcher,
User Rank: Strategist
10/26/2012 | 4:58:57 PM
re: Windows 8: A Bridge Too Far For Enterprises?
I'm not going to either love or hate Windows 8. It merely now exists. But like many consumers, we all upgrade our phones much quicker than we do our PCs. Why? Because they keep adding neat applications or better technology to the phones, allowing them to do more than before. But PCs? Not so much. At the end of the day, the vast majority of consumers are using their PCs to access social media, do some email, and share photos. The operating system either helps with doing those things or gets in the way. With Windows 8, which will it be? For businesses oriented toward doing WORK, all the "fun" stuff of Windows 8 will not be embraced. Businesses want their workers working (not having "fun" or being "entertained"). I will not be upgrading my old XP box at home to Win 8, despite the cheap $40 offer from Microsoft. I wanted to, but the disconnect is that the programs I want to run will not run on a 32-bit version of Win 8, only on the 64-bit version, so I'll be looking at having to buy a completely new PC. Assuming my XP PC lasts, I'll wait till 2014 is about gone before I spring for a new PC having Windows 8. By them a few service packs should have been released...Perhaps one allowing you to boot directly to the desktop (without having to install 3rd party software). The bottom line is that while I love my iPOD Touch, I don't WANT my PC to act like one.
Boba Fett
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Boba Fett,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/26/2012 | 3:12:23 PM
re: Windows 8: A Bridge Too Far For Enterprises?
Wow, absolutely no value here. Typical fanboy MSFT hater speak. guy writes like an energetic 14 year old girl who's outraged about the school cafeteria's hot lunch program calling Jello a fruit.

UMG!

"Windows 8's schizophrenia isn't just limited to the UI though."

"But it's not just the tile-based interface that will wreak havoc with IT departments fielding questions from befuddled users, it's the fact that Windows 8 really wants to be touched."

..ok that last "touched" part is just CREEPY.

"Windows 8 appears to be one of those Veg-O-Matic-type products with Microsoft trying to do too much at once:"

"Will Windows 8 be the catalyst that injects life into a moribund PC market that's clearly suffering from a severe case of iPad hangover, with Apple providing another dose of pain by unveiling the low-priced Mini earler in the week, or end up another Vista; the OS everyone can do without?"

LOL @ "moribund" , cmon guy..lol. The PC market and iPad market are two completely different markets..remember, your conclusion talks about the Enterprise not the personal user market- someone like my Mom who just surfs and "likes" stuff on the web. IMO there's a very thin Enterprise iPad market..

In the pie chart above, only %13 percent were negative but UMG it's a H.bomb of confusion for all. Go grind your ax somewhere else..

Angry IT guy,stick with networking printers and bemoaning the passing of the trackball mouse. Leave the commentary to folk who understand technology without emotional attachments and the over use of vague superlatives.
Johnnythegeek
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Johnnythegeek,
User Rank: Strategist
10/26/2012 | 2:59:53 PM
re: Windows 8: A Bridge Too Far For Enterprises?
Couple things come to mind in terms of Enterprise not embracing Windows 8. One is that many just recently moved to Windows 7 from Windows XP. Some are still with Windows XP but not many. I think if nothing else when the saw how bad Windows 8 was going to be. They started thinking Windows 7 was a better long term solution. As for consumers? Many are tech challenged and even though geeks don't find Windows 8 hard to learn. I know plenty of consumers who will tie up help forums and support lines with questions that really they should not have to ask. At least not in terms of ease of use. If Windows 8 is so great, how come so much has been said and written about how it is so not as intuitive to use as Microsoft tells us it is.
The other basic reason not many will embrace Windows 8 is very simple. Windows 7 is not broken. It is not the security hole that Windows XP was and it certainly fixed all that Vista was not. Plus it has only been out about 3 years. Yes I know if this was a Apple OS that would considered old. But in a more practical Windows user world 3 years is not old and in fact its just reaching its peak. Maybe Microsoft can hope the tablet side of Windows 8 can gain some footing.
But I really have my doubts this late in the tablet market. iPad is clearly in control with 70% market share. The rest spread out that 30% between Android tablets and now Windows. With al the Windows tablets coming out. Can any one model expect to really do well?
JPolk
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JPolk,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/26/2012 | 2:16:38 PM
re: Windows 8: A Bridge Too Far For Enterprises?
"Suck it up metro is nothing but a normal users desktop."

Really!? Funny, it doesn't look like a normal user's desktop. You speak about shortcuts on the desktop. Okay, many people have them. But Metro removes something near and dear to every user's heart: the ability to close the application. Yes, I know you drag it down etc. but that's not what users are going to "see." I think both pundits and geeks miss the boat on Windows 8. It doesn't matter if "all you have to do" is really easy for you and I to understand. What makes upgrading to a new OS work is the ability to find your way. You have to have a glimpse (at the least) of familiarity. "Wait, where's my....oh there it is." "How do I....oh, click here and there it is." Windows 8 removes EVERYTHING. Nothing is familiar by default. Nothing. Even the desktop is hidden. When a user boots his/her machine they're in Metro. Something completely alien. If they can't find something familiar they're going to ditch it. Geeks, techies, journalists who have had it for months may scoff and laugh but in the next month there is going to be a slew of Windows 8 "How-to" articles. I don't think there will be enough to keep users on this version, though. Look at Vista.
mtttttttt240
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mtttttttt240,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/26/2012 | 1:53:02 PM
re: Windows 8: A Bridge Too Far For Enterprises?
wow, um just wow. So much wrong in this whole article. OMG users with a mouse have to move to a corner to get the charms, so don't ever use the new OS that provides crap tons more benefits than what you barely list. The whole windows RT is no different at all than Mac OS vs iOS. Exactly the same thing going on here with microsoft. Apple seems to be doing just fine last time I checked, having a tablet OS and a Desktop OS.

But the biggest thing is you write this as too big bridge for enterprise and say not one thing about all the huge enterprise advantages it provides, nor in your bashing even talk about what enterrprise would consider the pains of the OS, which is user's trying to tie in personal accounts to synch skydrives, or having access to an application store where they can add games and more on their machines, and having to learn all of the new AD settings and for all intensive purposes needing to update their AD to 2012 to get all the bells and whitsles they need to support windows 8. So you wasted everyone's time copy and pasting the whole WHY tech journalist hate metro UI, that we have read for months. Suck it up metro is nothing but a normal users desktop.

How does the average business person use their computer, they have 40 short cut icons to all of their programs, and websites they need on their desktop and when they want to open something, they go to their desktop and click on the shortcut icon. Hell that sounds a crap ton just like metro UI, a desktop with all of your program shortcuts.

Sorry but you fail for the whole misdirect to get readers headline, then fail to write your article about your headline,and then just copy and paste metro UI hate, even while providing link to stats that the general consumer likes it more than hate it.

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