Enterprise IT shops put off Windows 8 migrations

Windows 8 migrations have stalled as IT shops grapple with decisions over hardware and software upgrade costs, Windows security issues and more.

Microsoft's latest operating system has been on the market for nearly five months, but enterprise IT decision makers have yet to implement strategic plans for Windows 8 migrations because of concerns about upgrade costs, security and more.

The lackluster interest among businesses to migrate users to Windows 8 is attributed not only to a new user interface, but also to the high cost of hardware that can take advantage of the new OS.

Enterprise decision makers say any Windows 8 installation won't come for another year, after the first Windows 8 service pack is available.

To help hardware manufacturers drop the cost of touchscreen devices that exploit the Windows 8 user interface's swiping and gesture movements, Microsoft this week slashed the Windows 8 and Office dual-pack licensing fee to OEMs from $120 to $30. The software maker hopes that the move will drop the cost of the hardware for end users, spurring demand for forthcoming touchscreen-enabled devices.

Even if the price drop raises early-adopter interest, Microsoft's move won't be enough of a catalyst for widespread Windows 8 migration plans that include the software as well as hardware upgrades, according to end users.

"It's almost like a television," said Alex Wilson, IT operations manager at Courier Corp., a printing service company in Chelmsford, Mass. "You're interested in the television show, but not the television."

Our users are more interested in the applications they use than in the devices they use, he noted.

Although there are some early adopters for Windows 8 at Courier, the business has not made the leap to the latest OS, he added.

Windows 8 technology changes will slow adoption

The adoption lag is to be expected, as it takes time for enterprises to embrace a new technology fully.

"[Typically], the adoption of Windows is three to five years," said Tim Bajarin, principal analyst at Creative Strategies in San Jose, Calif. "The problem is that [Microsoft] doesn't have three to five years."

Windows 8 installation may be particularly slow because touchscreen monitors are not prevalent in the corporate space, said Heinan Landa, CEO of Optimal Networks, a network and computing support consulting firm in Rockville, Md.

"As more workstations are designed with touchscreens in mind at an affordable price point, then larger companies will begin adopting this operating system the next time they need a company-wide hardware upgrade," Landa said. "In general, however, companies will not accelerate their upgrade cycle for this operating system upgrade."

IT shops will need to carefully analyze the productivity effects of using Windows 8 throughout an organization over a significant period of time, Landa added.

"The real question is whether or not getting a head start on application development would give them a leg up on Windows 8," said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, a consulting firm in Hayward, Calif.

Windows 8 security concerns

Meanwhile, IT users are keeping a watchful eye out for the next Windows 8 service pack release.

Aside from the high cost of tablet PCs and rewriting any business software required for the Windows 8 environment, security concerns are another obstacle to large-scale migrations to the OS, said Gyutae Park, co-owner and head of IT at Money Crashers Personal Finance in Piscataway, N.J.

"There have already been a number of patches released, and the first official service pack isn't scheduled for release until next year, Park said "Until then, it's likely that many companies will remain content to use their existing operating systems."

Microsoft released its preliminary list for its March Patch Tuesday with a bulletin noting a fix for Internet Explorer 10 that affects Windows 8 and Windows RT, as well as previous versions of Internet Explorer and Windows.

Microsoft declined to comment for this article.

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