The 9 ways that Windows 8 will change businesses forever

As we continue to learn more about Windows 8, some things are becoming increasingly clear.

Not only is this release totally different from any other Operating System that has come before it but because it is so different, it will tremendously affect the way businesses operate.

Typical Microsoft upgrades have forced businesses to make negligible changes in the way they work simply because the Operating System updates have been so similar.

It can be argued that Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 were relatively minor refreshes compared to Windows 8. Minor because for the most part, they looked and worked the same.

Windows 8 is such a major change that businesses will be unable to mindlessly upgrade.

I believe that this is the first OS upgrade from Microsoft that will force businesses to re-evaluate their functional business processes.

No longer will they be able to just give IT permission to roll out the new update, there will need to be real thought and strategy around how Windows 8 is deployed.

Here are 9 major reasons why:

BYOD

The phrase BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) isn’t new but there just haven’t been that many devices that employees could credibly bring to the table.

Now that’s changed.

With iPhones, iPads, Android devices and Windows 8 devices, there are now many choices for employees to create and consume information. Even better, these choices are now becoming credible ways for employees to perform work.

With so many choices available to consumers starting this fall, businesses will have to take a step back and figure out what devices will be managed and what devices will not be acceptable in the workplace.

This conversation will not be optional anymore, it will be necessary.

Tablet Strategy

Tablets are new to the enterprise.

Who should have a tablet and why are some of the core questions that businesses will have to consider. Heck, should a business even give out tablets to employees in the first place?

Tablets will not make sense for everyone and each business will have to go through a process of mapping their business processes and employees to tablets to see if there’s a fit.

Mobile Phone Strategy

Mobile phones are ubiquitous – almost everyone has a cell phone.

With the introduction of Windows Phone 8 (codename Apollo), those phones will now probably be able to perform work functions.

How will Windows Phone 8 integrate with Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012?

We’re not sure but what we can be sure of is that it will.

That will create another set of business process mappings that need to occur both for Windows Phones and iPhone/Android phones.

Identity

Microsoft have created their new Microsoft Accounts for users of Windows 8.

The creation of that account will trigger the provisioning of a bunch of online services in the cloud. These services will theoretically will make the consumer’s life a lot easier.

How will that work for businesses?

They will have to evaluate if employees will/should use Microsoft Accounts or simply be provisioned accounts that will be controlled by the business domain.

This will take some planning.

Security

Along the same vein as Identity, do you really want your employees (who have access to sensitive documents) to have access to Skydrive? Probably not.

While it can be argued that employees who are irresponsible will find a way to be irresponsible, it doesn’t mean that businesses will enable that behavior.

Businesses will have to figure out what security policies make sense and lock down the OS appropriately across all platforms.

Social Media Policies

For the first time, a business Operating System has built-in Integration with Twitter, Facebook and more. It’s hard to lock that down completely but I am guessing that businesses will have to understand what the implications are of such deep integration with the OS.

Make no mistake, Microsoft will give businesses the tools to lock all of this down but it’s still going to take some figuring out to avoid overkill.

Provisioning

Windows 8 will make it easier than ever to provision hardware to contractors, temps and employees with Windows To Go.

This is huge for businesses and is in my mind, the number one benefit of moving to Windows 8.

This will require changes to the standard on boarding and off boarding processes that businesses use today.

Good changes though – life will be simpler for IT if executed properly.

Applications

Metro apps or desktop apps or html apps on the desktop, choices abound for businesses.

There will be a lot of choices available for creating business applications and I imagine that in 12 to 18 months, ALL major business software applications will either have developed Metro apps or seriously be considering it.

Fun times for business.

Development

In the same vein as the Applications point above, this will be a great time for developers. Opportunities will abound for contractors and in-house programmers to create business applications that take advantage of all the new features of Windows 8.

Windows 8 contracts will be the star of the show in my opinion as they will minimize the need for third party interfaces to be written and deployed multiple times across an organization.

This will be a good time to be a Windows developer and businesses will have to determine the tradeoffs between retraining IT staff or hiring developers or offshoring (as usual).

The bottom line is, this is no ordinary upgrade for businesses. It will inevitably be bumpy at first and there will probably be some horror stories along the way as the kinks are worked out.

Assuming Microsoft are able to execute this properly, businesses will tremendously appreciate the changes coming in Windows 8.

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