Will Windows 8 Ever Find Success in the Enterprise Market, What Stands in Its Way?

Windows 8 was never meant to be a “true successor” to Windows 7 in the enterprise, at least not by the traditional definition. In the past, Microsoft has encouraged businesses running on aging versions of Windows to transition over to the newest.

With Windows 8, Microsoft changed its tune. It understand that Windows 7 and Windows 8 had many of the same features, with touch being the most ‘ground-breaking’ difference between these versions. This is why Microsoft’s previous advice has been about creating a mixed Windows 7 and Windows 8 workspace.

With Windows 7 and Windows 8 being so highly compatible in many ways (drivers, software, etc), Windows 8 makes more sense for users that need touch-driven productivity or mobility. Windows 7 remains the best choice for those that need a “no nonsense” workstation OS.

Despite that, we continue to hear articles about slow Windows 8 adoption, not just on the consumer level but on the enterprise level as well.

Let’s be honest though, how is that different from ANY new version of Windows? Heck, many businesses are just now considering moving away from the ancient OS that we know as Windows XP.

In the business world, if it isn’t broke – don’t fix it. There is a lot involved when it comes to rolling out a new OS, so IT departments carefully evaluate the decision and only make a move IF they feel that the new OS can somehow improve upon the productivity of the business through better tools, security or simply better compatibility with modern hardware and software.

On the tablet front, we are just now starting to see the first truly “worthy” business tablets. Sure, Windows 8 has been around for a while but devices like the HP ElitePad 900 and Surface Pro are just starting to become readily available.

It is too early to say whether or not Windows 8 is a success or failure in any market, including enterprise.

That said, we can admit there are some hurdles for businesses considering Windows 8 devices, tablets or traditional PC/laptops. Here are just a few we can think of:

1) The new UI: There is a strong belief that the lack of the traditional start menu hinders productivity. Due to the stark differences between the way Windows 8 handles simple tasks like shutdown and even finding item, some feel it is “inferior” to the Windows 7 productivity experience. That said, I am a full-time freelance writer and use a Windows 8 desktop as my primary machine and find that Windows 8 doesn’t at all change my productivity level, for better or worse. Again, that’s just one person’s experience.

2) The Competition: Once upon a time, Microsoft had little workstation competition. Most businesses choose Windows, plain and simple. Some would use Linux for servers, but most would still utilize Windows and Office for the average worker. The times are changing, as tablets running on Android and iOS can now be paired with bluetooth keyboards and other accessories to make them a workable mobile solution for many businesses.

3) The Economy: Businesses have long stood by the “not broke, don’t fix it” mentality, but the current economic state makes them cling to this philosophy even harder.

4) What’s to gain? On the tablet front, there are many reasons why Windows 8 or even Windows RT could prove superior to the iPad or the many Android tablets: Office integration, legacy app support (with the exception of WinRT), multi-user support, better support for security solutions, etc. On the the desktop front though, many businesses don’t see the value in changing to Windows 8. Even businesses just now considering upgrading from XP, feel that Windows 7 is a better fit than Windows 8.

All of these hurdles are very real, and probably not the only things standing in Microsoft’s way when it comes to enterprise dominance. That said, I truly think that it doesn’t matter. In time, businesses will grow to appreciate the idea of tablets running Windows that play nicely with their existing security solutions and require minimal adjustments on the part of IT staff.

As for the desktop? I have a feeling that Windows 8 will probably never do all that well in the desktop enterprise world, but that’s fine. Microsoft will still make money on businesses that switch to Windows 7, and in time perhaps Windows 9 or Windows 10 will prove a better fit for future business desktop needs.

What do you think, can Windows 8 tablets prove successful in the next year and into 2014, beyond? Any major hurdles you feel I missed out on covering? Share your thoughts below.

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