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Windows 8 for a mobile world

(Posted on behalf of Shalini Chandrasekharan)

Microsoft has launched its latest OS version in 2012 - simply named Windows 8. Its predecessor - Windows 7 was launched in 2009 and has since then, stabilized quite well with market adoption edging close to 50%. According to estimates from market watcher NetApplications, Windows 8 seems to have garnered close to 1% of the market.

Much has already been said about this revamped version - its unique 'Metro' style UI, revamped BitLocker, Windows To Go and Dynamic Access Control to name a few. However, depending on whom you have read, Windows 8 may either be the best thing ever to hit desktop computing or is expected to fizzle out as a damp squib.

The reason for this has to do with the nature of changes brought in Windows 8 as opposed to its predecessor Windows 7. Windows 7 was a clear step up from Windows XP with well defined upgrades that also required a hardware refresh in most cases. Migrating from Windows XP to Windows 7 is already underway for most organizations as it is an extensive process involving application migration and remediation.

In contrast, Windows 8 basically retains the core underpinnings of Windows 7 especially  software license compliance and policy management being the same. The major difference is that Windows 8 looks beyond the simple PC to other form factors such as tablets and smartphones. its touch based support service enables organizations to support employee owned devices or BYOD programs.

While the invasion of consumer IT into business has definitely started with the advent of smart devices, the uptake of allowing employees to bring their own devices has been slow due to various reasons, security being one of them. With Microsoft releasing Windows 8, it enables organizations to choose from multiple device form factors enabling users with different requirements. But this could lead to a different problem for organizations since most of the installed base comprises of traditional laptops and desktops which do not allow a complete leverage of the touch enabled 'Metro UI'. In this sense, Gartner may be right - 'Windows 8 is a big gamble for Microsoft'.

However, most experts believe that it may be too early to really comment on the success or failure of the launch since it usually takes organizations about 10-18 months to pilot, analyze and decide on migration. The added deadline of April 2014, when Microsoft will formally end the extended support for its Windows XP version, is another consideration for organzations. Windows 7 may be an easier fit than Windows 8 however, in the longer run, Windows 8 may prove to be a better choice especially if a new version of Windows in expected.



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