With Windows XP facing end-of-life and the Windows 8 preview in the public's hands, enterprises are considering a radical move: skipping two versions of Windows. Migration will be a very hot topic in 2012. With any type of strategic IT decision, organizations need to consider many different factors such as resources needed, costs, testing, compatibility, and training. While Windows 8 is loaded with new features, it also deprecates features users have grown accustomed to and it will require extra user training. But before you race to Windows 8, check out these 8 reasons why as a CIO, you shouldn't:
1. Devices have to catch up to OS capabilities - Windows 8 is more than the next Windows operating system. It is really about a whole new wave of devices and a new touch-oriented computing experience. Unlike other tablet or slate devices (e.g. iPad or Kindle Fire) that have hardware genetically tied to software, Microsoft is sticking with its model of empowering independent hardware vendors to create devices to run Windows. Because the paradigm shift with Windows 8 is bigger, the risk is greater to migrate early as vendors rationalize and perfect implementation of touch in Windows hardware. Having penned the CIO's worst four letter word less than 100 words into this missive is telling. But really, no one thought twice about keyboard and mouse compatibility. With touch coming fully into the mainstream, we are being forced to consider all of the device changes we so easily forgot. There is also the not-so-small budget consideration around hardware procurement. You can count on first generation devices to be more expensive and less reliable and durable than their second or third generation successors.
2. A new breed of hardware is accompanied by new drivers - With the new wave of devices comes a whole new set of device drivers and the great IT pain point of driver management. In the past you could probably get by with the UPnP in-box driver that wasn't exactly the OEM driver, but worked. With touch and a new breed of wireless peripherals that will surely accompany these new devices -- not to mention the deprecation of optical drives (I'm afraid, a DVD drive will become increasingly rare on devices intended to run Windows 8) -- driver management and smarter deployment will become critical. Because of the new capabilities of Windows 8 devices, workers may actually be rendered totally unproductive because of a driver issue that today would just be a nuisance. This is a potentially massive hit not only to worker productivity, but demand on IT for desktop support.
3. Windows applications have to catch up - The software industry has a lot of learning and then a lot of work to do. There will therefore be a big gap in time between Windows 8 being released for sale and software being properly developed for Windows 8's new capabilities. There is a whole new world of Metro for software manufacturers to learn. We will all have to implement Metro-based apps or portions of our apps properly into our products. Until Windows applications get a chance to mature on Metro though, it could be very hit-and-miss in terms of the overuse and misuse of Metro, which could cause potential reliability and productivity issues. ISVs have had a heck of a time getting updated to the Vista/7 platform. The good news is that those apps should run fine on Windows 8, however they will be conventional Windows desktop only and not Metro-enabled. That being the case, why deploy Windows 8?
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