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After 2012 launch splash, Windows 8 faces enterprise skepticism

Juan Carlos Perez | Dec. 19, 2012
Among the raft of recent and upcoming Microsoft upgrades, Windows 8 towers in importance but its chances for success remain cloudy among enterprise customers.

TeleMate.Net has Windows 8 on the machines of a few developers who are working to tweak the NetSpective software for the new OS, but the company will keep the other 20 or so other employees on Windows 7.

"I'm not going to push Windows 8 out to everyone's desktop until there's a valid and compelling reason to do so, and right now it doesn't exist. Windows 7 is very stable, very robust," he said.

He would have made the same decision at his previous job, where he held a similar position, but oversaw about 5,000 end users.

"There's no way I would have ever agreed to deploy Windows 8 to 5,000 desktops and then have to go and figure out how to explain to people how to use the new interface and train them," he said.

In other places, Windows 8 is getting a warmer reception, including by early adopters Seton Hall University, British Telecom and the Emirates airline.

"Windows 8 is great for business because it delivers the experiences people love while providing organizations with the IT controls they require," said Jason Campbell, a Microsoft senior product manager.

"Many organizations across a wide variety of industries are taking advantage of Windows 8," he added.

At CB Engineers in San Francisco, IT Director Jack Mou plans to replace all company laptops -- about 15 -- with Windows 8 tablets and laptops next year, displacing also a number of iPads employees bring from home.

But although Mou considers Windows 8 superior to its predecessor, he concluded that on the desktop it doesn't offer enough improvements to warrant upgrading from Windows 7.

"For the desktop deployment, unless otherwise requiring touchscreen and [stylus] pen inputs, I don't find it necessary to upgrade if you are already on Windows 7," he said via e-mail.

Of course, Microsoft begs to differ. Part of its massive marketing effort for Windows 8 has focused on convincing enterprises to adopt the new OS.

Microsoft has trumpeted improvements in security, virtualization, backup/restore, performance and IT management. For example, Windows To Go lets users boot and run Windows 8 from USB devices like flash drives. The OS also offers simpler ways for end users to manage their Wi-Fi and cellular broadband connections.

At TechEd North America in June, Antoine Leblond, corporate VP of Windows Web Services, declared Windows 8 "enterprise-ready by design" and "a better Windows" than Windows 7.

Still, the lack of enthusiasm for Windows 8 on desktop PCs expressed by Mou and Newton is consistent with what IT analyst firms have heard from customers.

"Overall, most organizations will look at Windows 8 for specific users and scenarios, and not for broad deployments," said Michael Silver, a Gartner analyst.


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