Windows 8 for Business

Mike Halsey MVP
Mar 4, 2012
Updated • Jun 25, 2018
Windows, Windows 8

When I came to review the Windows 8 Consumer Preview I decided that the best way to do it was to split it into separate reviews for the different types of people who would use it, so between gHacks and our sister site Windows8News I've already written about Consumers, where the operating system got a resounding win and IT Pros where, frankly, it's still all to play for.  Keep an eye out on Windows8News for my review for Enthusiasts too but here I want to talk about businesses.

Business users are, and always have been, Microsoft's bread and butter.  If you think about it Windows has always been a business operating system and consumers have had to adapt to using a business system at home.  Now the pendulum has swung completely in the opposite direction, so what if anything does Windows 8 offer business users?  In many ways Microsoft don't need to worry about business uptake.  Most businesses are only still migrating to Windows 7 and so Windows 8, and possibly even Windows 9 will be skipped completely.  The financial markets and shareholders aren't going to criticise Microsoft when this happens as no medium sized or large business upgrades their operating systems every three years anyway.

Despite this, Microsoft have thrown in some very tempting features for businesses including Hyper-V and support for a new relational file system when used in conjunction with the new edition of Windows Server, also out at the end of this year.  Some of these new features could be very well received by system administrators and IT managers.  This enthusiasm will have to be tempered though with thoughts of retraining staff in how to use Metro and the new Start Screen.  With the Start Menu gone and no Group Policy setting to disable Metro there will be much scratching of heads at office desks where staff are  suddenly presented with the new interface.

For this reason, as staff training is always expensive and comes with a significant hit on productivity, Windows 8 won't be a winner for business.  It could have been as consumer devices keep creeping into the workplace.  Last week however Microsoft announced that the new ARM version of the operating system won't come with the Administrative Tools or Group Policy settings.  This means that Windows on ARM will be no more useful in the workplace than the iPad and some commentators have suggested that Microsoft is shooting itself in the foot by taking this approach.

Ultimately there will be scope for Metro apps to come along that will be every bit as useful and usable as their desktop equivalents, and I've seen how these apps can be genuinely powerful myself, but this will take some time.  It takes a long time, sometimes years, to develop bespoke apps but with the move away from Windows XP and Internet Explorer 6 now fairly urgent, there is a strong case to be made for considering Metro as the way forward.  It is much easier to develop cross platform apps for the PC on Intel/AMD, ARM and even Windows Phone and, unlike the desktop which now faces an uncertain long-term future, Metro isn't going to be going away.

At least for the next few years though Windows 8 is not a win for businesses.  There are too many problems associated with the way businesses operate at and the speed at which they develop and deploy things.

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Windows 8 for Business
Mike takes a look at Microsoft's new Windows 8 operating system from a Business-perspective.
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  1. BobbyPhoenix said on March 6, 2012 at 3:34 am

    Well there ya go. They already know it’s gonna happen :p

  2. BobbyPhoenix said on March 4, 2012 at 10:50 pm

    “Most businesses are only still migrating to Windows 7 and so Windows 8, and possibly even Windows 9 will be skipped completely.” I see that happening. We finally just upgraded everyone to Windows 7. Windows 8 looks great for touchscreens, and especially tablets, and has a lot of eye candy, but for the normal everyday use of a business, I think Windows 7 will be the new XP. It will be on systems long long into the future, and probably force MS to extend support. Unless Windows 9 shocks the world I don’t see any reason to leave Windows 7 as it does everything and more that we need it to.

    1. ilev said on March 5, 2012 at 8:11 pm

      “I think Windows 7 will be the new XP. It will be on systems long long into the future, and probably force MS to extend support.”

      Microsoft has already extended support for Windows 7 until 2020.

  3. Sid said on March 4, 2012 at 8:41 pm

    This time round, I firmly agree with ALL points raised by Mr. Halsey. Windows 8 is likely going to be a win for consumers, but definitely not for businesses or corporate environments.
    Just like Windows Vista was for Windows 7, I think Windows 8 may really be a “launch pad” for a much “seamless” offering in Windows 9. At the time, we may find Microsoft saying again, “You requested, we listened.”
    I am using Windows 8 for only last 4 days [didn’t use DP], and as I have stated already, I have made a lot of progress in getting a “feel” of the platform. I believe I can really like it, but I am confident that the majority of my fellow IT Pros will loathe it.
    Indeed, a crippled ARM version & inability to disable Metro UI using GPs make matters worse.
    But a lack of adoption of Win8 may also be a blessing for the often demanding yet thankless job of an IT Professional!

    1. JohnMWhite said on March 5, 2012 at 7:19 pm

      I still do not see how Windows 8 is a win for consumers. I must be missing something, because I don’t see how it makes things easier for them. Even to take advantage of the supposedly idiot-proofing of a touch screen requires the consumer to make a significant outlay in new hardware, all so they can click with their finger on a screen instead of their finger on a mouse, using flat buttons instead of icons. In 2012, are there really that many consumers who need their UI reduced that much? In this economy, are people really going to spend a lot of money on a touchscreen interface because they find Windows 7 too tricky?

  4. JohnMWhite said on March 4, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    I’m curious as to why you describe consumers as having had to ‘adapt’ to using a business operating system at home. When have consumers, on a whole, ever used anything else? And by what measure is Windows a business operating system? What would a ‘consumer’ operating system even look like?

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