Windows 8 promises to be a departure, in many ways, from the much-loved Windows 7 operating system. There’s wide (though certainly not universal) agreement that consumers will embrace it, for its touch-optimized Metro interface, if nothing else.
There’s much more that’s different in Windows 8, but not every new feature or capability will get pulses racing among enterprise IT professionals. There is, however, more than enough to warrant seriously considering moving your enterprise to Windows 8 sooner rather than later. Here are a few of the most interesting updates:
1. Windows 8 brings the enterprise to more devices.
Windows 8 is a much more mobile-friendly operating system than Windows 7, notably because of its touch-optimized Metro interface. Users who prefer the PC’s more traditional, point-and-click UI (or who use older apps better suited to the traditional desktop) will still have it available on demand, directly from within the Metro UI.
Note: as we discussed in our recent Windows 8 vs. Windows RT post, Windows RT uses ARM chips and offers more limited functionality for PC users, running only Metro-native mobile apps packaged with it and those available from the Windows Store (legacy x86 apps are not supported).
However, many new tablets running Windows 8 will sport Intel x86 chips that make them fully backward-compatible: If your application runs on Windows 7, it will run on Windows 8. Business users will get the ease of use of Metro and be able to use all of their legacy apps regardless of whether they want to use a PC or tablet—or both.
2. Windows 8 expands mobile connectivity.
Enterprise IT organizations will like the mobile access and security advantages discussed in a CIO magazine piece on Windows 8’s enterprise features. Notable: Windows 8 expands the capabilities of the DirectAccess security app introduced in Windows 7 to enhance mobile access and replace VPN technology. It also has built-in, native support for 3G and 4G communications. Both of these should make corporate IT’s day a little bit smoother.
3. Windows 8 offers better data protection.
Microsoft has boldly claimed that Windows 8 is more secure than Windows 7, as noted in this recent IT World article. Secure Boot is a new Windows 8 feature that protects against malware intrusions during vulnerable boot processes. The new OS also improves app performance by encrypting only the portions of a disk drive that really need it. Also, the Windows 8 version of the AppLocker security tool will better protect against unauthorized (and possibly malware-ridden) software. With malware being a continuous thorn in IT’s side, these features will get enterprise attention.
4. Windows 8 encourages corporate-issued device usage.
According to Microsoft, enterprises that want to give employees full flexibility on accessing Windows from any non-Windows device will have to purchase a new Companion Device License as part of the enhanced Software Assurance package, sold as an optional add-on service.
However, the license is unnecessary for users of Windows laptops and tablets. This may not completely eliminate the challenge of managing “bring your own device” or BYOD situations, but it creates the right financial incentive.
5. Windows 8 is faster than Windows 7 on PCs.
Yes, it’s early (Windows 8 is still at the preview stage), but it’s telling nonetheless: Lifehacker’s recent speed test has the new OS leaving Windows 7 in the dust in many categories. Boot time is perhaps the most impressive—which could add slightly to corporate productivity and help avoid a few IT support calls.
Another benchmark conducted by ZDNet’s Adrian Kingsley-Hughes confirms the boot-time advantage, and calls out promising audio and video transcoding, which can speed sharing and movement of these typically large file types—especially helpful for mobile staffs who may need access to them from anywhere or to share them with global teams.
There’s no question that IT units will think carefully before transitioning to Windows 8. But, for the enterprise that highly values mobility and security, the benefits may well be worth the effort.
What have you been hearing around your company regarding Windows 8? Let us know if your enterprise is planning to be an early adopter or if you’ll be taking more of the wait and see approach and why.
As you’re looking at your primary IT priorities, chances are that mobility is at the top of the list, according to analysts. Enterprises that support mobility enjoy increased productivity, responsiveness and revenue, as well as higher customer satisfaction. Get more stats and trend data to help you build your strategic plan by reading this issue brief today.