Windows 8

Windows 8 fails to wow CIOs, at least so far

CIOs are still looking for the new features to make Windows 8 an enterprise must-have, according to TechRepublic's CIO Jury.

Despite all the excitement about the new Metro interface and the emphasis on tablets, it seems that CIOs are still waiting to for the must-have enterprise features in Windows 8.

Last week Microsoft showed off the consumer preview of the forthcoming operating system, expected later this year. Among the key changes is an emphasis on tablet and touch-based computing. Windows 8 is designed to run on laptop, desktop computer and tablet hardware, scaling its interface to various screen sizes, and the new tile-based Metro interface.

But while Microsoft argues that Windows 8 represents a "generational change" for Windows - the likes of which has not seen since the release of Windows 95 - it seems members of TechRepublic's CIO Jury are not impressed by the new features they have seen, at least not so far.

When asked, "Do the new features in Windows 8 provide enough value to make it an attractive option for your organisation?" TechRepublic's CIO Jury of tech decision-makers voted 'no' by a margin of nine to three. While intrigued by a number of the new features,many IT chiefs are - for now - apparently still looking for the features that make it essential for them to get ready to upgrade.

Kevin Leypoldt, IS director at Structural Integrity Associates, explained: "While I remain optimistic about the unification of the Metro interface across all platforms - desktop, mobile and tablet - I do not see this as a value-add in our organisation. The Portable Workspace however does sound intriguing and may help win BYOD acceptance and adoption if it can be proven secure and easy to use."

Leypoldt added: "However, there are a number of other features, such as IE 10, the app bar, windows store, gestures, and a system-wide spell checker, which I don't see as a driver to Windows 8. It's my opinion that Windows 8 is more about Microsoft's unification of multiple platforms and embracing the future of computing in mobiles and portables than about being targeted at the corporate customer."

Similarly, Neil McGowan, CIO at JD Williams, said the actual level of additional features over Windows 7 are "not major" from a business perspective. He added that there is also some concern over new the Metro interface and moving to a touch interface when most staff will have traditional laptop. McGowan said: "Looks like Microsoft following Apple, not providing leadership."

Kelly Bodway, VP of IT at Universal Lighting Technologies, said because business users are not consumers but producers of information "the feature set does not provide enough motivation to implement".

Michael Hanken, VP of IT at Multiquip, said the operating system is not a business driver by itself and will lose "more and more value" with the rise of browser-based cloud services and desktop virtualisation, while Lance Taylor-Warren, CIO at HAWC Community Health Centers, said: "There is not enough initial value to be an early adopter. I'm sure we will transition to it in the future, but it will not be until three to six months of release."

However, some members of the CIO Jury were cautiously optimistic: Matthew Metcalfe, IS director at Northwest Exterminating, said: "Windows 8 is an evolution towards what will hopefully yield devices that are enterprise-friendly. Android and iOS have not delivered these features for us."

And Tom Galbraith, director of IT at the US District Court, Southern District of Illinois, said: "As mobile gains more traction in the enterprise, there is value from an administrative perspective in having the ability to leverage knowledge and tools across a common OS running on mobile and non-mobile devices. But of course I reserve to right to say, 'We shall wait and see'."

Similarly, David Wilson, director of IT services at Vector CSP, said: "It will take some time and research to prove whether the new functionality would pay for itself."

Others said it is too soon to pass judgment. Tim Stiles, CIO at Bremerton Housing Authority, warned: "It is too early in the product's life to answer this question accurately."

Still, there's no doubting the importance of the release to Microsoft. Adam Farkas , VP of IT, Crown Media Hallmark Channel, said: "I firmly believe Windows 8 is a make-or-break product for Microsoft." He added: "For Windows 8 to truly succeed, it must unify our mobile computing with our desktop computing in a user-friendly way. My email, my browsing, my apps, my printing, my social networking should be ubiquitous, transparent and secure regardless of where I am or what device I am using."

This week's TechRepublic CIO Jury is

  • Kelly Bodway VP IT, Universal Lighting Technologies
  • Adam Farkas , VP of IT, Crown Media Hallmark Channel
  • Tom Galbraith, director of IT, US District Court, Southern District of Illinois
  • Michael Hanken, VP IT Multiquip
  • Kevin Leypoldt, IS Director, Structural Integrity Associates
  • Neil McGowan, CIO JD Williams
  • Matthew Metcalfe, director of Information Systems at Northwest Exterminating
  • Lance Taylor-Warren, CIO HAWC Community Health Centers
  • Tim Stiles, CIO at Bremerton Housing Authority
  • Richard Storey, head of IT, Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust
  • Rick Treese, CTO Themarkets.com
  • David Wilson, director of IT Services at Vector CSP

The CIO Jury is composed of the first 12 members of the CIO Jury pool to respond, but tech chiefs who don't make into the first 12 still make their opinions heard, and one recurring issue for CIOs is getting the best from their existing investments before moving onto the latest technology.

Many may well be reluctant to move to a new operating system with the disruption and retraining that this often entails, especially as many are only now moving to Windows 7, or keen to protect the investment they have already made.

As Michael Eason, CIO at The American Board of Anesthesiology, said: "Our organisation moved from Windows XP to Windows 7 two years ago. We were more aggressive than most companies our size, and many SMBs are still using XP today.

"Changing the operating system on your employees' PCs is disruptive, inefficient, and labour-intensive. I see nothing in Windows 8 that would justify an upgrade for any company. That may change over time, of course, but as of now this upgrade would create far more problems than it would solve."

Similarly, Joel Hughes, VP of IT at Scranton Gillette Communications, said the new features "certainly will not have us jumping over to the new OS and swapping out hardware en masse." Hughes said he was planning on "organically trickling 8 into our organisation via new PC acquisitions", adding "We've still got a variety of older machines chugging along with XP, but not for long."

Chris Peek, CIO at Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, said that, based on what we have seen so far, there does not seem to be "any compelling feature" that would justify upgrading to Windows 8. He added: "In fact, some of what has been presented looks like it may present a significant learning curve for users. Our organisation just began the transition from Windows XP to Windows 7 last year, and we are only doing that on new machines because they come with the new OS."

Support from software vendors is a key concern as well, as John Gracyalny, director of IT, SafeAmerica Credit Union, said: "My reason is that a number of my software vendors do not yet support Windows 7, so I would not expect them to support 8 for maybe another two years. If we are lucky, given the scope of the changes."

Tadd Moore, IS&T director at Rooney Holdings, said: "It's still very early days. There are definitely some interesting concepts and features brewing, but not nearly enough detail to merit considering early adoption. I'd have to make a lot of assumptions that things will work as I'd expect them to for it to be an attractive option, and as many of us have learned, products don't often work as they are expected to right out of the gate."

Moore added: "When it matures, absolutely. I'm a Windows Phone 7.5 user and am sold on their UI paradigm. It will be great to see the lines between what is possible on a desktop, a tablet, or a phone, disappear completely."

Gavin Whatrup, group IT director at Creston, said the "stand-out idea" in Windows 8 is the concept of a common platform across desktop, laptop, mobile and tablet. "On paper that sounds very appealing and could, if realised, provide all sorts of opportunities for truly flexible working," he said, but added: "However, I doubt it will be as simple as that. Apple's appeal will prevail and the mix of devices will remain."

And Graham Yellowley, technology lead equities at LCH.Clearnet, wondered whether Windows 8 has come too late for the PC: "On the surface Windows 8 looks appealing, more details about security models and migration paths are required but so far so good.

"The issue is whether Windows 8 is too late to stop the momentum of iPads or whether a Windows 8 tablet has the opportunity to leverage the interface to re-establish its market share. My personal view is it is good but too late - PCs are dead and iPads rule."

Want to be part of TechRepublic's CIO Jury and have your say on the hot issues for IT decision-makers? If you are a CIO, CTO, IT director or equivalent at a large or small company, working in the private sector or in government, and you want to join TechRepublic's CIO Jury pool, or you know an IT chief who should, then get in contact.

Either click the Contact link below or email me, steve dot ranger at cbs dot com, and send your name, title, company, location, and email address.

About

Steve Ranger is the UK editor of TechRepublic, and has been writing about the impact of technology on people, business and culture for more than a decade. Before joining TechRepublic he was the editor of silicon.com.

21 comments
labff
labff

I have been using windows 8 Consumer Preview on my Eee- slate (PC) for almost 2 months now. I have run all software that I normally use & I have had no major problems. This includes database applications that were developed under windows 7. These databases worked first time & every time with zero conversions & issues. As for the Metro Interface: you get used to it. It does take a little time, but it becomes 2nd nature very fast (Note: on screen help tiles would have made things a little easier). The tiles are great for gadget replacement, and for large fingers, visual or dexterity impairment.. I had previously looked into getting an IPad (a very nice piece of hardware), but it lacks direct compatibility with PC applications of any serious nature. Too many of you are stating that corporations won't upgrade to win 8; but they will, since the cost is only the upgrade of the OS, and a switch to iOS isn't feasible..Win8 will still run their existing office apps, cad, & business software, just as I have been doing for 2 months.. If you don't like Metro just push the desktop tile, you can set up the taskbar with the apps from the start menu & work as you always have. When there is something new it takes a little time, to get things right , just ask Apple about their previous tablet failures. Oh Yeah! There is no replacement for handwriting with a capacitive pen with a fine point tip (no rubber) & have that info go right into your database or document. I may never type again.

n2iph
n2iph

Nothing from MS has impressed me since XP Pro as far as the UI. Sure there were security flaws, but I still prefer XP over any UI since. Vista is tolerable but W7 and from what I have seen of W8, no thanks. Maybe its time to move to another platform. Should I dig out my SPARCstation and update Solaris ? :-)

Dyalect
Dyalect

Just throw in a few buzzwords and a catchy presentation with an android tablet. (zing) CIO's will blow up the budget on Win8 then. Corporate IT will remove all fun from the final product. Muahahah. Its Beta people. Calm down. But it will be interesting to see how the windows tablets fit into the market, and dare I say Kinect integration would be nice feature to see. But they definately need to up the ante. Windows 7 is pretty sweet and just slapping metro on it, is not going to cut it. We had a hard enough time wrangling Windows XP from the corporate end users clutches.

gevander
gevander

The lead-in question that SHOULD have been answered by all of the CIOs first was: "Has your company EVER upgraded Windows within a year after a new version release (ie, early adopters)?" 95% or more of businesses are going to wait at least a year after release before CONSIDERING an upgrade to the desktop OS. Most will wait 2 years or more. The value for them is that their employees will start acquiring PCs with the new operating system and **training themselves** in its use. No training outlay for the business and much less impact on work throughput once the business upgrades to the new OS. This article, in starting with a false premise, makes it appear that there is no business value in Windows 8 - but all the CIOs were careful to state that they don't see a reason to upgrade "now" instead of waiting until after their investments in the current OS are paid off.

Crashin Chris
Crashin Chris

Well, of course! W-8 is orientated [b] towards [/b] the consumer - not enterprise.

Matusko
Matusko

Microsoft: Face the facts. Every other end user release is crap. You would save us all a bunch of hassle if you treated every other version as throw away - Still build it but do not release it to anyone. Millenium - all bad. Vista - all bad. Windows 8 - don't release it. Message to everyone - we consumers are paying the price for Microsoft's experiments. We should all boycott every other release - Or at least every other release should be free (the crappy one).

mike five
mike five

I have yet to see why anyone would want a touch UI on a laptop or desktop. It would seem that CADD, Graphic Arts, or large spreadsheets would have reduced productivity.

tom.marsh
tom.marsh

I have zero customers using Windows 8 as a factor in their decision making at this time. Some of them just agreed to upgrade to 7 this year because the "Small" end of the SMB market doesn't do OS replacements except when they do hardware refresh because they're almost always running an OEM license, making an in-place upgrade catastrophically expensive--most of the money it would cost to just buy a new machine. So that's what they do, instead. Enterprises and mid-size companies are different, but I see no value for those customers, either--they just got clipped for a load of cash two years ago to beef up in-place hardware (and buy beefier hardware for life cycle replacements) and will need something more than a start menu removal to drive a purchasing decision.

amj2010
amj2010

well that should be a good solution and replace IE9 by IE10 and all the goodies of w8 in w7.and call it W8 Desktop version.............

dayen
dayen

Linux if they don't improve I see nothing there for my company mabe MAC

Spannerz
Spannerz

If they don't like it, then they can stick with Windows 7, and use 8 as a more 'casual/home' OS. If they see that it's useful for business, good enough. (MS could even re-market Win7 as the 'Business' one) Mind you, I've seen many conservative businesses who still use XP, and one even still with Windows 2000.

cgaylord
cgaylord

I'm definitely looking at the protocol enhancements of SMB2.2 and its more cluster-friendly nature. A bit esoteric, to be sure, but this could be important in my peta-scale data-intensive environment.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Well, except for that last fellow who thinks desktops are dead. Maybe his organization has a much greater percentage of mobile users than mine.

Gisabun
Gisabun

Looking at Win 8 Coinsumer Preview. If this is what it loooks like, i think I'll pass. Can't turn off the Metro interface [you could with the Developer preview] but now it's disabled. A bit rediculous that log in is tied to a Windows Live ID account. After the first time booting up, I got to the opening screen and I waited for something to happen. Nothing did. I had to press Ctrl-Alt to see that login prompt [jeez. How ugly.] What's with the fish on the screen at boot up [or is it a bird smoking something]? I would assume on a domain that you will get a more "normal" login screen. as for the Metro part, I already dislike it.

richard.wilson
richard.wilson

Gasp! CIOs aren't wow'd by a barely-even-beta release that Microsoft fully states, "operating system still in beta, not finished and not ready for a consumer retail shelf"...say it isn't so! How can this be? /sarcasm off Post poll results for something like this after it is at least in RC1 or something close to that. Seriously, how many of those CIOs do you honestly think even downloaded and installed W8 since its release 5 days ago...yeah that's what I thought. I bet the number is closer to 0 too.

Skruis
Skruis

but for those business deciding whether or not to rollout tablets, Windows 8 is an attractive option for it's dual usage abilities.

Craig_B
Craig_B

When Windows 7 was released in a short time I could see some compelling reasons to recomend upgrading to it in our business. While I'm still evaluating Windows 8, I have yet to find anything worth the upgrade for our business.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

and few will likely ever get one. Have you tried it on a desktop or conventional laptop, with a mouse and a keyboard?

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

And it should be followed with, "If you did upgrade within a year, was it a mass upgrade of all existing systems, or one at a time as new systems were installed?"

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

The Redmond gang say it will leverage development by unifying corporate applications across traditional and mobile devices. Pretty good, huh? I should be writing mission statements. In short, no; MS says it's not oriented solely toward consumers.

Ron_007
Ron_007

since it hasn't been officially released to manufacture. But on the other hand, how many significant changes have you seen in any MS products after this type of public beta or trial releases. If there is a SIGNIFICANT bug reported by MANY people, maybe that will be fixed. There may be a few more things they are working on, but basically, what you see is what you get. Any changes will be under the covers, not visible. I did install the consumer trial over the weekend. Based on my initial exposure I saw nothing impressive enough to encourage me to switch to it. The only good thing I can say is that I was able to install Office 2010 with only one issue that was easily resolved, and it appeared to work well.