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How to prepare for Windows 8 even though It's not coming to enterprises

Shane O'Neill | May 21, 2013
Windows 8 won't be adopted as a standard at your business anytime soon, according to a new Forrester report. But that doesn't mean IT shouldn't prepare for it to sneak through the BYOD side door. Here are five ways to be ready for Windows 8.

Windows 8, released to the wild last October, seems stuck in a no-win situation.

On the one hand, it is not catching on with Android- and iOS-loving consumers turned off by the Windows 8 tile-based interface and the Windows App Store, which by Android and Apple standards, is anemic and disorganized. And these days, consumer technology is frequently a precursor to enterprise technology as shown by the BYOD (bring your own device) phenomenon.

On the other hand, the situation for Windows 8 isn't any better in the enterprise. IT decision-makers interviewed for a new Forrester report don't see the Windows 8 experience as an improvement over the stable and well-liked Windows 7, mostly due to confusing behavior between applications running in the "Metro" touch interface and those running in the traditional desktop mode.

In the report, entitled "IT Will Skip Windows 8 as the Enterprise Standard," IT professionals reveal that a top concern about Windows 8 is the "potential for significant user training and support and the need for application redesign to take advantage of the new Windows 8 interface."

Enterprise Still Working on Deploying Windows 7
Also working against Windows 8 adoption: Most enterprises are too caught up in Windows 7 migrations to focus on Windows 8. According to a separate Forrester survey of more than 1,200 IT decision-makers in the U.S. and Europe, 48 percent of current PCs are running Windows 7 and 76 percent of new PCs being deployed in the enterprise are running Windows 7.

"This doesn't mean enterprises will lock out Windows 8," writes report author and Forrester analyst David Johnson. "Some will support it for specific segments of employees, but it is not likely to displace Windows 7 as the platform standard."

Yet it would be a mistake for enterprise IT decision-makers to let Windows 8 slip off the radar. Despite enterprise IT trepidation, employees are more interested in Windows 8 than you might think.

Forrester's Forrsights Employee Survey in Q4 2012 showed that 38 percent of employees would prefer to use Windows 8 on their work computers, compared with 35 percent for Windows 7. Windows 8 may have a confusing user interface, but it is unquestionably more modern than the three-and-a-half-year-old Windows 7.

"Windows 8 opens up entirely new use cases for Microsoft customers," writes Johnson, "which will only gain momentum as the app ecosystem ramps up development and hardware vendors offer new designs that blend the lines between tablets and traditional PCs."

In short, IT should give employees freedom to work on Windows 8 PCs as the BYOD trends continues. Here are five ways enterprise IT should prepare, according to Forrester.


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