Exploring Windows 8 Adoption Decisions in the Enterprise

This has been a busy year for IT managers. New technologies have become available at an increasing pace while economic uncertainty has made technology adoption decisions more critical.

For those managing existing Windows-based IT infrastructure or considering it, Windows 8 brought added complexity to the procurement and deployment processes.

Nevertheless, decisions have to be made in order to:

  • Ensure firms remain competitive
  • Maximize the return on investment from existing and future IT
  • Develop sustainable IT infrastructure in the future
  • Maximize productivity of the workforce

I want to take a look at several factors IT and business managers can use to decide on Windows 8 deployment in their organizations. These factors need to be examined holistically, but can serve as a helpful starting point for enterprise IT decision makers considering Windows 8.

Existing desktop and mobile OSs
For medium and large organizations right in the middle of, or just concluded Windows 7 deployment on the desktop and notebooks, most are going to want to stay with Windows 7 for the short to medium term at least. Your investment in Windows 7 infrastructure must be recouped, especially for an OS that is peculiarly efficient and popular for most business users.

Given that the major benefit of Windows 8 is on touch-enabled devices – and not the desktop – it is hard to see the economic justification for ripping out a freshly-installed Windows 7 base to upgrade to Windows 8.

For those with an XP or Vista base of clients, the decision is less clear cut. For the least disruption to the organization and if there is no pressing need for the new Metro UI, Windows 7 would be the better choice for now.

Available resources for your deployment
Make no mistake, a move to Windows 8 will be costly, whichever way you slice it. For organizations with peculiar needs for Windows 8 such as certain apps and a large mobile workforce who need touch-enabled applications AND the organization has the resources needed for new hardware and training, then Windows 8 may be the appropriate choice.

Why is Windows 8 deployment likely to be more expensive than Windows 7? First, most desktop displays are not touch-enabled right now. If you want the full benefit of the Metro touch-based tiled interface, you’ll need new displays and new drivers etc. Remember also that problems with drivers for different devices are being sporadically reported as we speak. You’ll need to plan for that.

Next, you’ll need resources for training as Windows 8 is such a radical departure from the interface that your users have grown familiar with over the years. There is simply a steeper learning curve and thus higher training costs.

BYOD Policy
If you have an extensive BYOD policy, there may be a strong case for your inclusion of Windows 8 as an optional or even preferred OS. Given that most BYOD devices are not desktops but increasingly tablets, you may have to support Windows 8 just due to the purchase by your employees of new Windows 8 tablets such as the Surface and forthcoming Surface Pro.

If the corporation purchases BYOD equipment for its employees, then given the superiority of Windows Phone 8 over WP7 and Windows 8 over RT (and 7 on touchscreen-enabled devices), then Windows 8 is a better choice over prior Windows flavors in most cases.

Yes, there are other factors to consider such as management support, user inputs, in-house IT capabilities, existing applications and so on. Plus of course, Windows OSs are not the only choices in an open market of technologies.

However, these three factors can give enterprise managers a running start in making Windows 8 deployment decisions for their organizations.

Share your observations in the discussion below.

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