Many IT organizations use Total Cost of Ownership or TCO analysis to determine the economic value of new technology deployments.

Windows 8 as a new platform is no different, requiring organizations to look at all the hardware, software, operational and long-term ramifications of deployment.

Let’s make two guiding statements to get started;

  • There are some unknowns with a TCO analysis for Windows 8, due to the newness of the technology. There is more uncertainty than with a Vista to Windows 7 migration, as the user paradigm, interface, and device spread is very different.
  • The TCO analysis will vary dramatically between companies based on their current PC and server platforms.  For example, a recent Windows 7 firm will likely have different results from a Windows XP firm.

Having said that, what would the outlines of a Windows 8 TCO analysis look like and how would they differ from prior versions of Windows?

Let’s look first at the hardware. Microsoft states the minimum hardware requirements for running Windows 8 include a processor with a clock speed of 1GHz or more; at least 2GB of RAM for 64-bit systems (or 1GB for 32-bit), 20GB of hard drive space (16GB for 32-bit), and DirectX 9-capable graphics.

Most hardware running Windows 7 will meet these requirements, XP and Vista machines may need to be upgraded. What most prior PCs will need to be upgraded are their display units, if the touch interface is used.

Non-touchscreens and even older touchscreens will not be able to take full advantage of Windows 8 capabilities. Many of the older touchscreens have single or dual point touch recognition – Windows 8 can handle 5(!) points of touch for one hand and 10 for two hands.

New trackpads and keyboards optimized for Windows 8 may also be needed. In addition, many firms will need to factor in the costs of new tablets and smartphones that may be the reason for the entirre migration in the first place.

Let’s not forget that a new cast of device drivers must be assembled for all these devices to work together without problems. Throw in migration costs, warranties, installation, hardware research and that will round out hardware costs.

Of course for the software, Windows 8 licenses will be a primary cost component. Microsoft has bent over backwards to reduce (at least for an introductory period) the costs of the OS itself.

Single user Windows 8 Pro downloads are still $40 while CDs are $70. For volume purchasers, ZDNet notes;

Windows 8 system-builder pricing will be largely consistent with Windows 7 system-builder pricing. Windows 8 (the low-end SKU) will cost system builders and hobbyists something just under $100 (U.S.) per copy. Windows 8 Pro will likely cost $20 to $40 more per copy.

Additional software such as Office 2013 (not mandatory, but better utilizes Win 8 features) will add to the software tab, as will selected apps from the Microsoft App Store.

There will be higher testing costs than normal for the two-personality OS, plus the requisite installation costs.

Operations Costs
Infrastructure, downtime, testing, and backup costs will not be remarkable compared to previous versions of Windows.

Where you can expect to see significant differences are in technology training and security policies.

With the new Metro-style interface, Windows 8 will startle some of your users with its differences from Windows versions. Differences mean more training. More training equals greater cost.

If, as previously mentioned, you have just completed a migration to the very capable Windows 7, then a new migration before getting good use from Windows 7 will require you to compute the opportunity cost of not fully using Windows 7.

Many organizations in the first of second year of Windows 7 deployment have already concluded that Windows 8 makes little economic sense as a desktop platform replacement.

Finally longer-term expenses such as upgrades and replacements will not be dramatically different from prior OS generations.

In summary, TCO calculations for Windows 8 deployment must be comprehensive and include new hardware costs, opportunity costs of moving from the existing platform, and additional costs of training.

Tell us what you think in the discussion.

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  • Dan Dar3

    Talking to IT guys at work was surprised to find out that they started trialing W8 already and got myself enrolled as well. Didn’t expect to happen so soon after the release – yes, i’m sure it will take a good while before an entire company roll-out, but still surprised to see it taking on so soon, even earlier than it happened with W7. I’m sure the fact that the W8 is faster on the same hardware has something to do with it – and I can say cause I tried it on the same hardware, and I know my work laptop warranty expires two years from now, so it makes sense.

  • antonio

    hmmm … btw, I think you should check the windows-android solution with e.g. PocketCloud … with a very cheap android tablet you have the power of your pc at hand everywhere

  • Jean Michel Veilex

    one thing company have to keep in mind is also that eventually (not right away) software devs will develop new and better tools for win 8 that won’t can’t be implemented in prior OS version….. to that you have also to consider generational jump…. in a couple years more and more young potential workers will be more used to win 8 than 7 like a lot are more used to 7 than XP today…. and it will make little sense to waste time on teaching then win 7 use rather than spending 40 to 70 bucks on a license….. so the learning curve won’t be a long lasting issue in todays tech world a new software of that magnitude doesn’t take long to be learn or and understood….. this is true with people over 40 maybe but not with most younger people in developed parts of the world…. and this is becoming more true by the day…. today kids know how to use a tablet of any kind before they walk or speak almost……

  • Jean Michel Veilex

    anyway been around the interweb looking for info on the different market apple google and Microsoft are… what is clear is MS is moving up in search,phone and everything else… bing has crawled up quite nicely since 2009 especially in the custom engine in page for websites (around 25% market share) which is a long way considering google domination in that sector… the phone are not selling as well as they want to but it is steadily going up and from every report a I read from real user that switched to a wp8 device from android or iOS everybody seems really happy and especially happy with MS services competing with google offer….
    and finally what is absolutely stunning about MS is the level of investment in SG&A which includes R&D which is almost 27 billions where apple puts less than 12 billion and google less than 8 billion…. and the number of actually really innovative patent they are fileing… to me they look like apple in the early 2000…. the underdog with a real pocket aces in tech innovation to come within the next decade that no other competitor have in the pipeline….
    it is one thing to have defensive patent on the shape of your icons or the wifi norms or other telecommunication standards… it is an other to have patent on real innovation like real 3d indepth transparent display… soft screen, detachable screen, high performance touch etc etc…. to me the future looks way more exciting on MS side than anything apple or google is working on…. they are just more of the same with a little spec bump and better polish on the UI…. but beside that they look pretty stagnant to me…..

    • Bay

      Jean, I agree on so many points. Microsoft has really changed the UI experience with Windows 8. And yes, all the iterations of Android and iOS serve to make them slicker only, not change the game.

      The only problem is that this isn’t 2000 and the smartphone market is more mature, with consumers in some cases, (Apple iPhone for example) having gone with several generations of the hardware, embedding themselves in the ecosystem and gaining loyalty.

      It is therefore infinitely harder to come in as a brand new technology and expect to carve out serious share, regardless of spending on R&D. At the very least, it will be a long and hard slog for Microsoft since they waited so long.