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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.

1. Complete Those Windows 7 Upgrades
Microsoft is ending extended support for Windows XP on April 8, 2014, so Forrester recommends that IT pros ignore the Windows 8 hype for now and finish enterprise-wide Windows 7 migrations.

"Rest assured that this laborious effort will ultimately pay off with greater compatibility if or when your organization decides to support Windows 8," writes Johnson. "If you're already on Windows 7 today, then consider adding incremental support for Windows 8 and new devices, starting with pilot groups to better manage the change."

If your organization is still on Windows XP and hasn't begun the migration to Windows 7, then a Windows 8 migration is worth a look, but you must consider the broad effect it will have on your employees and applications, writes Johnson.

"If you find it's manageable, then moving to Windows 8 will put you ahead of the curve."

2. Get a Formal BYOD Policy in Place
Whatever Windows 8 adoption demand there is, it's coming mostly from employees, so it's a good idea to formalize your BYOD policy and begin with a pilot program that helps you figure out which employees are the best fit for a BYOD initiative.

"Early BYOD programs focused exclusively on smartphones and tablets but it's inevitable that they extend to Macs and PCs, and Windows 8 may serve as the start for PC inclusion," according to Forrester.

3. Move Your Apps to the Cloud and Embrace Open Web Standards
Most of the cost and labor of an OS migration involves taking inventory of all your apps and testing for compatibility. If application developers shift apps to the cloud quickly, it will reduce future migration efforts while providing employees with better access and more devices.

Forrester also encourages the development of apps on open web standards such as HTML5 instead of for specific browsers like IE, Chrome or Firefox.

4. Expand Use of App and Desktop Virtualization

Client virtualization technologies-hosted and local -can speed up BYOD programs by allowing IT to provide a managed environment on personal devices. App virtualization also takes incompatible legacy applications out of the picture by detaching them from the hardware and OS and putting them in a virtual machine, thus giving employees more flexibility

5. Organize a Pilot Program to Test Windows 8 Hardware
Begin with a small pilot group of workers, each of whom represents the company's different business units. Forrester recommends that companies buy and distribute all the different Windows 8 devices such as tablets, ultrabooks and all-in-ones. Match the form factor with specific worker needs and collect feedback sooner rather than later.


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