EXCLUSIVE – Windows 8 Interview with PCWorld’s Tony Bradley

The best part of owning this blog is getting to meet and interview some of the smartest minds in technology today.

I met Tony Bradley at the Windows 8 MVP Nation conference  in Seattle a few weeks ago. I was extremely impressed by his depth of knowledge of Windows at the enterprise level.

For those of you who don’t know, Tony Bradley is a technology and information security writer. His primarily role is the Network columnist and blogger for PCWorld.

He is an experienced information security professional, author, and speaker. He’s also the author/co-author of 10 books, and hundreds of web and print articles.

In addition, he has been awarded the Microsoft MVP (Most Valuable Professional) award in security for five consecutive years, and he has been a CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional) since 2002.

Tony was gracious enough to give me some of his time for an interview as part of my Windows 8 Interview series.

The transcript is below:

Onuora: Tony, thanks for making some time to do this. First of all, could you tell us a bit about your background?
Tony: I am a freelance tech writer, writing primarily for PC World with my Net Work blog and column. I have been using PCs since I taught myself BASIC on my Commodore 64, and I have been using Windows since installing Windows 3.0 over DOS. In a former life, I’ve done tech support and help desk stuff, been an IT admin, and worked as a security consultant. I am an MCSE, MCSA, and CISSP-ISSAP, and I have been recognized as a Microsoft MVP for six consecutive years.

Onuora: I assume you’ve had a chance to see and play with the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, what were your first impressions?
Tony: Honestly, my first impression is that it seems like Windows 7 with a flashy, but annoying layer on top of it. I love Windows 7. Since Windows 7 launched, I’ve wondered what Microsoft could do next to top or improve it. I’m not sure Windows 8 will do it.

Onuora: What do you think of the Windows 8 Metro interface?
Tony: My previous response notwithstanding, I like the Metro interface. I appreciate it on Windows Phone, and I like it on the Xbox 360. I think it will be great on Windows 8 tablets, and it could work if OEMs make ultrabooks with a touchscreen display. But, on my existing Dell XPS M1330, I’m not really a fan. I feel like it just gets in the way of using Windows.

Onuora: What do you think of the overall Windows 8 vision?
Tony: I like it. I think it is a bold direction for Microsoft, and I commend Redmond for having the conviction to make such a dramatic departure from its established model and move toward an OS that embraces mobile devices and works on across more platforms.

Onuora: Have you had a chance to check out the development tools – Visual Studio etc?
Tony: No. Not yet.

Onuora: What role do you see Windows 8 playing in the enterprise?
Tony: Most organizations just finally got on the Windows 7 bandwagon. Microsoft just announced the two year countdown to the end of Windows XP support, so many companies will be scrambling just to test and deploy Windows 7 by 2014. On the desktop, I think it will be a while before enterprises are deploying Windows 8 in volume. However, Windows 8 tablets could change mobility in the enterprise. IT admins will appreciate tablets that can be joined to and managed from the domain network, and users will appreciate a consistent interface and applications between the desktop and tablet.

Onuora: What do you think about having Windows XP, Vista, 7 and 8 on the market at the same time?
Tony: Well, XP is on its deathbed (finally), and Vista support is winding down. I understand that with the vast majority of consumers, businesses, government agencies, and everyone else in the world relying on Windows, Microsoft can’t simply pull the plug. There would be riots. That said, I do think Microsoft supports legacy operating systems much longer than it needs to.

Onuora: What would you change about Windows 8 if you had the chance?
Tony: Even though it effectively makes Windows 8 more like “Windows 7 2.0”, I would implement an option that lets users on existing desktop and laptop PCs default to the desktop mode. Metro can still be there for use with Metro apps, but Metro just gets in the way on hardware that isn’t designed for a touch interface. I would also change the pricing. Microsoft generally relies on having the OS bundled with new hardware, and makes the OS itself too expensive for most users and businesses that may just want to upgrade the OS. When Apple launches a major update of Mac OS X it costs $30, while new versions of Windows cost $200. Apple gets a much higher adoption rate, and you can see why. If Microsoft would offer Windows 8 as an upgrade for $50 or so, it would see much wider and faster adoption.

Onuora: What is your view on the use and deployment of tablets in the enterprise?
Tony: Personally, I think the tablet will eventually supplant the PC as the primary computing device. I spent 30 days last year using my iPad as a replacement for my laptop just to see if it can be done. I set it up just as I do my laptop while sitting at my desk—physical keyboard, external monitor, etc. The tablet is capable of performing the majority of tasks and functions users normally perform on the PC, but it is generally cheaper, uses less power, requires less cooling, has longer battery life when away from the desk, and it is more versatile on the go.

Onuora: Do you own an iPad?
Tony: Yes. I had the original iPad, upgraded to the iPad 2, and bought the new iPad on launch day.

Onuora: What do you think of the iPad as an enterprise level device?
Tony: The iPad is great because it just works. How many tech gadgets come with no instructions, yet can be used by virtually anyone right out of the box? On the enterprise side, though, IT admins have to deal with compliance, securing data, protecting intellectual property, and basically managing the hardware. Apple has made strides to make the iPad corporate-friendly, but it’s nowhere near the level of management and control IT admins have with Windows devices. Apple’s air of secrecy and “walled garden” approach work on some level, but aren’t really conducive with the oversight companies need for mobile devices. Despite its shortcomings, most companies are using the iPad in some capacity, or exploring it as an option.

Onuora: Do you feel that you and your peers have had enough opportunities to give feedback about Windows 8?
Tony: Yes and no. I’m sure Microsoft gave some group of Windows experts an opportunity to work with earlier builds and provide feedback. However, even as a Microsoft MVP in Windows, and a journalist writing on Windows topics, I was not given any access to the OS until the Windows 8 Consumer Preview went public like everyone else. That was a departure from Windows 7 where I was running a beta version for months before Microsoft made any builds available to the public. At this point, I feel like Microsoft basically feels the OS is feature complete and ready for prime time, which is concerning given that there are still some things I think they need to change.

Onuora: Assuming Windows 8 came out in Q4 2012, when would you recommend use and deployment?
Tony: Based on the Consumer Preview? No. I wouldn’t tell anyone NOT to use or deploy it. If a business was ready to refresh or upgrade anyway, then I would probably say it makes sense to get the most current OS, but I wouldn’t recommend that any business go out of its way to switch to Windows 8—especially if they’re already running Windows 7. Now, if the OEMs come out with some compelling tablet hardware at an attractive price, I would wholeheartedly recommend that companies seriously consider Windows 8 tablets.

Onuora: Thanks again for making the time.
Tony: Thank you.

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