Upgrade to Windows 8: Who will make the switch?

As Microsoft gets ready to roll out Windows 8, will IT pros invest the time and money necessary to learn the new interface?

Microsoft's decision to make the Windows 8 UI the same for all its customers presents major challenges for IT pros.

First, the cost to upgrade pre-existing hardware to support Windows 8's touch-sensitive user interface (UI), even if it's only $50 or $100 per machine, is too high for many enterprises.

Microsoft, meanwhile, has pitched the Windows 8 UI for desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones -- as well as embedded applications.

Of course, Windows 8 can be used with a keyboard and a mouse, but it was primarily designed for touch-use, and that is likely to impact hardware budgets, as well as turn off many more traditional PC users.

For one thing, endpoint costs may be boosted by the need for more expensive touch hardware to take advantage of Windows 8's UI. It's possible a large number of budget-constrained IT organizations may opt for non-touch hardware, which undercuts a major reason for making the upgrade to Windows 8 in the first place.

"Most corporations will stay with Windows 7 [for running desktop computers] for the foreseeable future," said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at researcher Enderle Group in San Jose, Calif. "People don't like to learn new interfaces," Enderle added.

That's the path that Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H. will take.

"[We] most likely will go forward with downgrade rights [to Windows 7] until we're sure [Windows 8] is compatible [with the hospital's applications]," said Rob McShinsky, a senior systems engineer at the medical center.

However, some do like the look of the Windows 8 tiled interface, with one exception.

"It was a mistake not to put the Start button on the interface," said Dennis Martin, president of the Rocky Mountain Windows Technology User Group in Denver, Colo.

McShinsky agreed.

"From a desktop perspective, I'd want a way to switch back to the older UI," he added. The medical center is still in the early stages of migrating to Windows 7.

While there is some interest in touch-sensitive displays among his users, it's an added expense in the budget, McShinsky said. "There hasn't been an outpouring of demand for touch displays," he added.

By trying to make Windows 8 fit on every device, Microsoft risks turning off its traditional IT audience.

One of the areas that could introduce significant friction into IT deployments is the cost of bringing users up to speed on the new UI, as well as training the technical staff to configure and maintain a new system.

"User interface [training] can be a really large investment," said Paul DeGroot, principal consultant at Pica Communications LLC, a Windows licensing consultancy based in Camano Island, Wash.

Windows 8 biggest competition: Windows 7?

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer famously said that Windows' toughest competitor is always the previous version of Windows. He may be up against it this time around. Some 38.54% of users globally are currently running on Windows 7, according to Web analytics firm NetApplications. Another 38.46% are still on Windows XP.

Displacing 11-year-old XP will bring Windows 8 new opportunities, but whether customers instead buy downgraded PCs and laptops with Windows 7 pre-installed, the way they did previously, swapping XP for the ill-fated Vista remains to be seen.

More than a billion people already use Windows worldwide. If Ballmer's anecdote about the previous version of Windows being the new one's toughest competition turns out to be true once again -- and there's no reason to suspect he's wrong -- that could be very bad news for Windows 8.

Microsoft has repeatedly been criticized for its lack of success in the smartphone market, and even more so because of its lack of entries in the booming tablet market. Confusingly, the tiled Windows 8 UI, which was designed for a lightweight, small form factor, touch-based mobile environment, is being presented as the primary UI for the desktop and laptop versions of Windows 8 as well.

The question is whether that's appropriate for users. It's obvious that Microsoft designed Windows 8 to garner market share in smartphones and tablets -- even going as far as launching its own Microsoft-branded tablet computer, the Surface.

However, despite decades of working to establish itself in both realms, Microsoft has failed to make more than fractional headway in either burgeoning technology market. An August report by comScore put Microsoft's mobile market share at just 3.6%, compared with 52.6% for Google, and 34.3% for Apple.

However, not everyone agrees that training users on Windows 8 would be that difficult.

"It'd be something to learn, but it's not 100% different," Martin said.

In fact, Microsoft does stand some chance of finally establishing its vision of Windows everywhere, according to some users and analysts.

"If Microsoft can come up with one interface that can be used everywhere, it can make the argument that one is better than multiple UIs," said Charles King, principal analyst at corporate advisory firm Pund-IT Inc. in Hayward, Calif.

In the long run, however, users will decide whether Microsoft chose correctly.

"On paper, it's brilliant, but pulling it off ... oh, crap," Enderle said.

Dig Deeper on Microsoft Windows 8 operating system

PRO+

Content

Find more PRO+ content and other member only offers, here.

Join the conversation

44 comments

Send me notifications when other members comment.

By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy

Please create a username to comment.

Do you plan to adopt Windows 8?
Cancel
I don't have the Touch Screen UI that I would need for Windows 8 and I think it is premature of Microsoft to introduce such product to folks like me who can't afford to upgrade every 5 minutes. Further I want my gadgets back!
Cancel
I'm a developer, deployments aren't my job
Cancel
its garbage
Cancel
I plan to deploy Windows 8 across all my hardware to include laptop, smartphones and tablets. It's the inexorable evolution of computing. Once again, the MS Business Model proves itself to be vastly superior to the Apple Business Model, and the obvious beneficiary is us...the consumer.
Cancel
It's better. We're testing it now. The tiles aren't a problem, although NOBODY likes them or uses them.
Cancel
Interface too limited for desktop use. Intended for touch devices mostly. No advantages for desktops.
Cancel
Going to windows 7
Cancel
The investment required, both financial and personnel based makes this a non starter.
Cancel
My employer, a county government, runs older PCs, mostly Windows XP, and a fair number running Windows 7 in a virtual environment. There is little to no funding available to upgrade the hardware or train users. Compatibility of older software is an issue that would need extensive testing before deployment for our thousands of users.
Cancel
It's all about the end user desktop experience and the cost of hardware upgrades. We'll continue with Windows 7 for some time until hardware is fully depreciated.
Cancel
Because of UI
Cancel
I'm testing the last release review on a second disk and I'm surprised from the speed. Much faster than windows 7. Hope that the final release wil be also fast.
I'm using word 2010 (I'm an authorauthor)
Cancel
NO NO NO - NEVER will I deploy WIN8 on my systems nor will I use Server 2012 - Microsoft has alienated itself & despite the PUSH for WIN8 & Server2012, they pushed the envelope way too far by NOT giving users the CHOICE if the AERO Desktop & Start Menu. I am actively looking at Apple as the next hardware refesh. I like WIN7, but by Microsoft forcing the Metro UI down our throats, I possibly will skip WIN7 & go directly to MAC. Since Microsoft isn't listening & being pig headed, they deserve to be treated as they are treating the user base.
Cancel
It was designed for phones not hundreds of desktops crunching numbers.

Enough said.......
Cancel
Windows 7 works great! We don't have the budget to invest in new hardware and the change in UI has upper management scared. As long as 7 is working we will be on it.
Cancel
Think i'll test a few major apps with it tbh as utterly impressed by the desktop side of things - stop with the metro UI scaremongering - end users "get" android and iOS - hardly such a massive leap
Cancel
As an ISV, we'll deploy Windows 8 on corporate desktops for application development and support purposes initially.
Cancel
Poor UI, too expensive on 'touch' hardware, no real need, user re-training, compatibility, loss of productivity. Need I go on. We'll be sticking with Windows 7.
Cancel
The new UI is totally unsuitable for the majority of corporate users.. No start button on the Desktop, the inability to use multiple monitors on the desktop. Windows 7 will be the desktop of choice..
Cancel
I don't want or would but a tablet interface on a Desktop/laptop and would never ever put it on a Server. That is the dumbest thing anyone could have ever done in the history of man.....
Cancel
Not practical or compatible with our current H/W platforms
Cancel
no way... staying Win 7.
Cancel
I find a steep user learning curve and increase in IT budget for touch capabilities are the most hindering factors for an upgrade.
Cancel
Rolling it out to 9000 users worldwide unless we hit technical roadblocks in that it just doesn't work.

Microsoft have said that apps that run on 7 will run on 8.

If you need to upgrade (EOL XP 2014) then do it once.
Cancel
interface is too different from win 7
Cancel
Sorry, but this interface works really well with a mouse and keyboard. Maybe better than touch, and I use it with both daily for a few months now. It plays really well with dual monitors, the search is amazing, the "Metro" style apps are nice, and it runs most legacy software just like 7 does. You overplay the need for touch entirely.
Cancel
It would be too expensive for us. Just as we are getting our hands on Windows 7 here comes a whole new windows with a completely difference interface..We are not going there in a long while
Cancel
Because of the Hardware requirements like PAE, NX and SSE2. It was promised that hardware running Windows 7 can run Windows 8. It was all lies... to expensive to switch to Windows 8 because of this requirements.
Cancel
We are looking at the deployment effort & then we would possibiliy look at doing it in stages
Cancel
too much different for the end user
Cancel
don't have touch device...
Cancel
what to try new tehcnology...
Cancel
we administer servers (unix and linux as well as 2008 we have no use for touch interfaces.
Cancel
Some of us are still in the process of migrating to windows 7. The hardware switch to make use of the new windows 8 features will also be a huge hindrance to overcome let alone the training of the users. It would have been better if Microsoft profiles its ideas of one UI for all devices is phases. Despite the efforts Microsoft made I don't think the new OS is appealing enough to really draw users of its current OS's over the line. (Corporate) IT departments are just starting to or deciding whether to migrate to Windows 7 after the Windows Vista disaster. Some even still use XP. It is possible that some early adaptors are found in the legions of consumers not because Windows 8 is superior but just for the fun of being the first switching to the new OS with all its new features.
Cancel
I don't see win8 offering anything practical or useful to our organizations
Cancel
I try to use the windows 8 UI interface and was very frustrating not to find all the things I usually use as control panel, start button, I am an IT and I consider there will be much time loss between my customers and my company trying to teach the new ways this interface has. I think if there is a lot of people with XP, with Zero mobility intention to windows 7, I think this is a bad move from Microsoft.
Cancel
Interface is not consistent with business uses.
The new UI will have a huge learning curve and training costs.
Cancel
There is absolutely no need for a touch UI on a desktop PC.
Cancel
Cost of hardware & training
Cancel
We currently run Win7 on all of our desktop systems. I setup a test system with Windows 8 for our users to try. Everyone hated it.
Windows 8 is geared towards the mobile market with it's touch centric UI. It doesn't work in the K/M arena. The OS is schizophrenic in how it switches back and forth from "Metro" to desktop, It's difficult to navigate and confusing for a desktop user. Add to that the budgetary load of adding touch screens and it's a definite no go.
Cancel
We are still moving users from XP to W7.
Cancel
no start button - dont like tiles - doesnt look like windows
Cancel

I used XP in my small business to the very end but now that we've started using Win 7 Ultimate which we all really love, I realise that I should have upgraded when it was first released!

I've got a couple of computers using Win 8.1 as a trial but everyone hates it!  The tiles will have to go.  So I can see that we'll be using 7 for a long time yet.


Ken Driver

Stonehaven Computers, Northumberland. UK

Cancel

-ADS BY GOOGLE

SearchVirtualDesktop

SearchWindowsServer

SearchExchange

Close