There is no compelling reason to install Windows 8 in your business at least through second quarter 2014. Application developers are currently fully engaged in writing applications for Windows 7 and for cloud computing. Applications being developed for business are still largely targeting the current Windows 7 system. This shortage of developers for Windows 8 applications will slow its adoption.
Factors Affecting Adoption of Windows 8:
- Shortage of Windows 8 application developers
- Stiff competition from other device types
- Plentiful and very capable existing business applications on Windows 7 system
- No hardware upgrade induced need to move to Windows 8
- Developers are turning to browser based applications at expense of installed applications that lessen the need to move to a newer operating system such as Windows 8
Technologies to Monitor
Many companies are planning their purchases for fiscal 2014/15 as most are done with the 2013/14 budgets. Microsoft is experiencing large adoption rates for it software as a service (SaaS) of Office365. This will be a compelling factor within a year to adopt the new Windows 8 or its antecedent. CIO’s should watch the Microsoft Windows Azure platform as a service (PaaS) as it will eventually provide low cost application development opportunities that favors the Window 8 model. Microsoft’s Windows Azure and Office365 are feeding on the current Windows 7 and Windows Server (cannibalization) models. Windows 8 is a transitional product.
- A Windows product user since version Windows 3.0
- A professional developer of Windows applications
- A company owner who makes buying decisions
- A former CIO at Florida Department of State
Throughout my 30 year career I have made the bulk of my living working with systems based on Microsoft Windows products. I am considered an expert in Microsoft systems including, their developer tools Visual Studio and .NET, their data products SQL Server and Azure, and their operating systems Windows and Windows Server plus now the Azure platform as a service. For my professional credentials see me on: linkedin.com/in/laultman
I am a consumer and consultant specializing in Microsoft products for a long time now and have seen many cycles in the business market. When you are in the trenches every day you began to see patterns. This is true of Microsoft products like other companies. One can rightfully assume that Microsoft intends to stay relevant in the markets in particular the enterprise and consumer. Since I work mainly in the enterprise area I shall leave the consumer reviews to others. However that said, the consumer products including Windows in home settings has served as a healthy training ground for individuals who also are employed and use Windows in their everyday work experience. The sphere of influence of Windows for the enterprise extends deeply into the consumer space.
Microsoft 3-Year Cycle
An operating system is a difficult thing to develop; it takes a long time to implement. Microsoft has been on a roughly three year cycle in major releases since the early 1980’s. Business leaders (CIO’s) are accustomed to this cycle many skipping the first releases of major upgrades. Like my father told me about new cars, “Don’t buy a new car after a major model change they don’t know how to make them.” That belief is held by most business leaders and in particular CIO’s. Change is good and at the same time change can be expensive.
Microsoft, I am sure is aware of this phenomenon. Major changes in the operating system reflect the underlying changes in hardware and/or usage demands. For example the changes in microprocessor technology (8, 16, 32, 64 bit to the multi-cores) required extensive changes in the operating systems. The purchasing cost of new hardware and its new operating system were tightly linked. Naturally the hardware must exist prior to the operating system change. In the recent past the cost of computer hardware limited the enterprise’s march into the future and by extension limited the growth and development of new operating systems.
Windows 8 is the first major release of a Microsoft operating system not tied to a corresponding change in the underlying processor technology.
Implications to the CIO
Practically all purchasing of computer equipment is on the three year cycle. CIO’s have been phasing out Windows XP to Windows 7 as they replaced their desktop computers to 64 bit hardware. In the mind of the CIO (I can speak with authority here) there is no compelling reason to move to Windows 8 at this very moment.
Windows 8 is the first major release of a Microsoft operating system that is ahead of the hardware platform it is intended to run upon.
The technology pundits seem to toss Windows Vista up as a failed system and tag Window 8 as another failure. I take a different view entirely. Windows Vista was released alongside Windows XP SP3 which was a major release in the XP series. There was no compelling reason for a CIO to move to Vista while Vista did represent the future of the Microsoft Windows line from which Windows 7 was born. Like Vista before it Windows 8 is breaking new ground even when there is no compelling reason for a business to adopt/implement it.
CIO’s are keenly aware that the platform landscape is changing again in the form of the “device” where the processors are not Intel based, or the device is running something other than Windows. This furthers the “wait and see mentality.” As a CIO there is an expectation that the device market will shake-out as markets have in the past. The safe bet then is to wait.
Things are changing again, with adoption of cloud computing.
How does cloud computing change the face and change the landscape for operating systems? In a word, virtualization. This will occur in two major waves. The desktop computer operating system will be virtualized in servers to further diminish the reliance on hardware. While virtualization in local servers is not cloud. The technology is very “cloud like” in terms of management and perception. The second wave is the ultimate movement of the actual “compute” functions to cloud computing making the concept of installed applications needing a powerful local operating system less relevant.
Five Month Trial Results:
The trial was simple. Purchase several copies of Windows 8 and run it in everyday normal use to see and feel how it works alongside Windows 7. The use case also included Apple iPad and iPhone as points of reference.
The Windows computers did not feature touch screen capability as this is likely the most accurate scenario that a CIO considering Windows 8 is likely to face in the enterprise for a considerable time to come (it took forever to get rid of the old CRT screens for flat ones and getting companies to spring for touch is not likely anytime soon.)
Windows 8 Usability:
There is no doubt that Windows 8 is decidedly different. Observations of work patterns show that users of current Windows 7 often will opt for the mouse when their hand is already on the keyboard where just a keystroke could cause the desired action. Windows 8 reduces the mouse interactivity favoring keyboard actions such as typing the name of an application instead of menu bound clicks or icon short cuts. While it seems at first the “Windows key” is a distraction it quickly becomes natural when shifting between processes.
If your work involves Windows 7 installed applications you may find the missing “Menu” button a trial. The simple solution is to install short cut icons on the desktop or pin your applications onto toolbars. Remember Windows 7 lets you make toolbars as does Windows 8. So those applications that you use the most are either a click or a few key strokes away. In actual operation placing Windows 7 applications on toolbars saves time both on Windows 7 and 8.
Windows 8 automatically shifts to Windows 7 mode when a desktop application opens. The redefined “Windows” keyboard button is the “Start” menu. Instead of reaching for the mouse just hit the key. This is the same pattern for iPad and iPhone. Like those devices you should put the applications you use most often on the start menu.
Once the fact that the “Windows” key is the “Start” menu sinks in to your head the use become little different from Windows 7. In practical use in the business where applications are Windows 7 you will rarely use the Windows 8 screen other than to start other applications. Again in practical terms the use of toolbars eliminates the bulk of the need to ever go to the start menu.
Windows 8 Performance:
Users of Windows 8 in desktop and laptop settings reported usage as indistinguishable from Windows 7 in the same settings.
Windows 8 User Experiences:
Overall the use of Windows 8 was positive. Given the opportunity to switch back to Windows 7 at the end of the trial workers decided to stay with Windows 8. The built-in security and the fact that the built-in applications had grown on them were deciding factors in staying with Windows 8.
Installation of Windows 8 was an issue on older equipment. No successful upgrade was achieved. In one case the BIOS had to be upgraded and the disk controller has to be downgraded to IDE from SATA resulting in a complete formatting of the system. In another case the upgrade path caused certain drivers to conflict that caused the system to “hang” with the disk drive at 100% for about 30 minutes after each boot. It worked normally after that 30 minute hang time until the next boot. This was cured by eventually doing a “clean” install. Finally on a laptop purchased in 2009 with Windows 7 preinstalled Windows 8 would never install.
Windows 8 works very well. It has never “blue screened”. It has run all applications that ran on Windows 7. Aside from the new Start menu it works exactly as expected. Office 2010 and Office 2013 both work well. Visual Studio 2012 runs with no problems. There is a definite need for more native Windows 8 applicat