Not surprisingly, many of this year's most popular articles on SearchEnterpriseDesktop were about Microsoft's latest operating system releases. Windows 8 was bound to come under scrutiny for its updated, new and omitted features, as well as cost and licensing.
The backlash against the Windows 8 user interface (UI), however, came as a surprise because Microsoft had clearly pinned its hopes on catching the consumerization wave. Optimizing the UI for touchscreen Windows tablets such as the Surface didn't endear the OS to business users accustomed to desktops and laptops.
In addition, many organizations have stuck with Windows XP, even as its end of support nears, and some are only now just moving to Windows 7. You'll have to decide for yourself which OS works best, so here's a baker's dozen of our tips and news stories around Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 features.
Reviewing Windows 8 licensing and enterprise options
Before IT shops plan or conduct any Windows migration, they should be aware that not all Windows 8 license options or editions are created equal. Volume licensing could be a better fit for some organizations than others.
How to find and use the Windows 8 start menu and admin tools
The user interface and administrative tools from Windows 7 aren't totally gone, but you may need to hunt for them. Here's some help to track them down in the Windows 8 interface, formerly known as Metro.
Windows 8 Enterprise has notable features not in Windows 8 Pro
Desktop admins should know the differences between Windows 8 Pro and Windows 8 Enterprise, which includes features such as Windows To Go, DirectAccess and RemoteFX, among others that can help them.
Enterprise IT shops put off Windows 8 migrations
The initial adoption rate for Windows 8 was disappointing, but why? Users and analysts blamed indecisiveness over hardware options, the pace of tech changes and concerns about Windows 8 security, among other reasons.
Windows XP migration delayed even as Microsoft prepares to pull the plug on support
On a related note, many users held onto Windows XP, even after Windows 8's release and the end date of Microsoft support approaches in April 2014. Application compatibility and cost concerns were cited as reasons for cold feet, but have they been addressed in Windows 8.1 features?
Mind the gaps left by Windows 8 security features
Microsoft has claimed that Windows 8 is its most secure OS yet, but that doesn't mean that you can simply install it and forget about compatibility and security issues. Industry observers have raised concerns about third-party components and privacy.
8 things to hate about Windows 8
Like any new technology intended for wide usage, Windows 8 has drawn its share of criticism. See if any of the alleged problems with migration, the user interface or employee training are deal-breakers or if they are balanced out by the strengths of Windows 8 features.
Microsoft attempts to make Surface RT enterprise-worthy
Although Microsoft's Surface Pro tablets are aimed at business users, could the Surface RT also find a niche in the workplace? The Windows 8 tablet lacks apps, but some channel partners hope to persuade companies that the device is worth a look.
Restoring backward compatibility via a Windows 8 XP Mode
XP Mode was a popular feature in Windows 7, yet Microsoft didn't include it in Windows 8. Fortunately, there is a free way to restore compatibility for legacy applications with the newer OS.
Microsoft readying Windows 8.1 download for Windows To Go USB stick
Microsoft put Windows 8.1 Enterprise Preview on encrypted drives for enterprise Windows To Go customers, just as it had with the beta version. The USB memory sticks are intended to make it easier to maintain security in bring your own device (BYOD) scenarios, and Windows To Go could herald changes in how companies manage clients.
Windows 8.1 preview fixes the failings of Windows 8 for the enterprise
According to one expert, Microsoft learned from the criticism of its latest OS and tried to address complaints about the Windows 8 user interface, among other things (see above). Windows 8.1 features include enhancements that could ease deployment.
Top 10 Windows 7 features you'll miss in Windows 8
Sure, Windows 8 and 8.1 include numerous new or updated features, but there are still things you might miss from Windows 7, such as DVD playback. You'll have to decide for yourself whether or not to migrate or use workarounds.
Windows 8.1 features treat power users, but watch out for tricks
With Microsoft's Windows 8.1 update finally out, early adopters could take advantage of our tips on new features such as changing the interface. However, limitations like libraries might still cause confusion.
Will you be conducting a Windows 8 migration in 2014? What would you like us to cover in the coming year? Let us know in the comments.
This was first published in December 2013