Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system will launch on Friday, October 26. It introduces a stylish new interface designed with touch-screen devices in mind, and a host of customization options. Still, experts say that most businesses will not be upgrading to Windows 8 anytime soon, if ever.
Doug Johnson, head of risk management policy at the American Bankers Association, says “Windows 8 is, frankly, more of a consumer platform than it is a business platform, so it’s not something that makes any sense from a business perspective at this juncture. There’s really no additional business functionality that Windows 8 gives you that I see.”
Microsoft may not find Johnson’s assessment to be as objectionable as one might think. Much of the design of Windows 8 is a direct result of the conflation of the consumer and corporate markets. Ron Markezich, head of Microsoft’s Enterprise and Partner Group, says “The lines between the consumer and the enterprise are blurring. Business customers are looking forward to Windows 8 because they don’t have to compromise between tablet and PC.”
Test versions of Windows 8 have been out in the wild for over a year, and more and more large companies are indicating a reluctance to utilize the new OS in their operations. Corporations usually test new systems for a period of several months before even considering a switch, but research suggests that most of them may never make the switch to Windows 8.
Technology research analyst Michael Silver predicts that “90 percent of large organizations will not deploy Windows 8 broadly, and at its peak, we expect about 20 percent of PCs in large organizations will run Windows 8.”
So far, the primary attraction of Windows 8 for business owners has been its touch-friendly interface. The system will launch concurrently with Microsoft’s new Surface tablet, and a specific version of Windows 8, dubbed Windows RT, is specifically for use on tablet devices. Steven Hanna, chief information officer of industrial parts manufacturer Kennametal Inc., is excited by the possibilities of the Surface and Windows RT, saying “The mobility for the sales force, to put all the material and the ability to do basic transactions in their hands, is going to be a phenomenal driver for us.”
Rigby, Bill. “Analysis: Most Companies Won’t be Early Adopters of Windows 8” Reuters, 10/22/12.