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Windows 8.1: Why the return of the Start button won't kickstart enterprise rollouts

Windows 8.1 might bring back the Start button, but it's not going to be the catalyst for enterprise deployments of Microsoft's latest operating system.

Windows 8.1 may have resurrected the Start button but won't be the trigger for enterprise deployments of Microsoft's latest operating system, according to TechRepublic's exclusive poll of tech decision makers.

Windows 8 is Microsoft's attempt at building an operating system that can be used for both standard desktops and also the tablets and touchscreen devices that are proving increasingly popular with consumers and (to a certain extent) with business.

But its new tiled layout is a major departure from previous versions of Windows because it replaces the traditional desktop view. The new design, and in particular Microsoft's decision to do away with the 'Start' button as part of the redesign caused an outcry among users.

Many businesses, meanwhile, have been concerned about the need to retrain staff and lack the touchscreen hardware to make the most of Windows 8. As a result there currently seems to be limited enthusiasm for the new operating system among business customers.

Windows 8.1, due before the end of the year, sees a number of business friendly tweaks to the operating system:  the Start menu will be reinstated as will the option to boot straight to the desktop, for example.

But when asked "Will the arrival of Windows 8.1 be the trigger for businesses to start their roll-outs of Windows 8?" TechRepublic's rapid response tech decision maker panel voted no by a margin of nine to three, suggesting that Microsoft still has much to do to persuade CIOs of the business benefits of a shift to Windows 8.

"I don't think it will make too much of a difference in terms of accelerating CIO's decisions in rolling this out," said Alan Bawden, operations and IT director at The JM Group, while Ian Auger, head of IT and communications at ITN, said: "It will help but I cannot see us jumping straight into the unknown!".

Business adoption of new operating systems tends to lag consumers (there are still a sizeable number using Windows XP) and many are more focused on Window 7 than Microsoft's latest. Derrick Wood, Group CIO at Wood Group, said his organisation is still working through a global migration to Windows 7, due to be complete by the end of this year.

"This has taken us far longer than anticipated/planned due to incompatibility of core business and engineering applications, tie in to client contracts, and significant effort/cost to migrate a 25,000-plus user base! No plans to migrate off this platform for at least 3 years."

Other tech chiefs are waiting for their vendors to take account of Windows 8 before making any plans. John Gracyalny, VP IT at SafeAmerica Credit Union, said: "I cannot upgrade my workstations until my key vendors certify their software with Windows 8."

The success of Windows 8 is also tied into a wave of new hardware – tablets and hybrids, including Microsoft's own Surface device. And as IT departments start to deploy these devices to workers this could become a reason for Windows 8 deployments rather than a broader enterprise desktop refresh, which is increasingly hard for many organisations to justify.

Matthew Oakley, group head of IT at Schroders, said: "The trigger is Windows 8 tablets rather than any desire to roll out W8 on the desktop. Until the new UI is properly enterprise controllable, no-one is going to look seriously at this for the mainstream desktop."

However, some tech chiefs point to the benefits of the new operating system. Jerry Justice, IT director with SS&G Financial Services said: " The 'add back the start menu' was just the most obvious visual change and was significantly overhyped in the media. If you actually spend some time using it, you will see the merits of the 'hybrid' O/S to business quickly and not really miss the start menu. It is a solid replacement for Windows 7 and part of the overall transitional endpoint delivery plan."

And Jürgen Renfer, CIO at German insurance organisation Kommunale Unfallversicherung Bayern, said: "All enterprise XP users - some think still about a quarter of all enterprise Windows users - are now able to upgrade to a stable system which seems to be usable by keyboard as well as by touchscreen."

This week's CIO Jury is

  • Neil Jones Head of Information Services, Newport City Homes
  • Brian Wells, associate CIO, Penn Medicine
  • Ian Auger, head of IT and communications, ITN
  • Brian Stanek, VP of IT, Namico
  • Jerry Justice, IT director with SS&G Financial Services
  • Jürgen Renfer, CIO, Kommunale Unfallversicherung Bayern
  • Delano A. Gordon, CIO, Roofing Supply Group
  • Richard Storey, head of IT at Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust
  • Matthew Oakley, group head of IT, Schroders
  • Dale Huhtala, executive director for enterprise technology infrastructure services at Service Alberta
  • John Gracyalny, VP IT at SafeAmerica Credit Union
  • Alan Bawden, operations and IT director at The JM Group

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 techrepublic 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.

166 comments
w7hd
w7hd

I made the mistake of purchasing a new Dell Ultrabook with Win 8.  When it turned out to be such a horrible boondoggle, Dell wouldn't even take it back and exchange for one running Win7.  Because of the way I was treated by their "customer service", they just lost my business after over 10 years of purchasing one to two systems per year for personal use and many, many more (in the hundreds) for work.  Would I trust them to be fair with me - NO.  

Biggest boondoggle - you can't install Windows 7 on the machine - you get the message that Windows 7 can't install on this machine AFTER it has gone through all the file extraction, file copying, etc for an hour or so.  That was after changing the bios settings to NOT use UEFI or Security.  The saving grace was that Linux Mint installs and runs nicely, although you have to change the bios settings back and forth.

Second biggest boondoggle - you will need to upgrade your backup program at your own expense. Be very, very wary - many are claiming compatibility but won't do a proper bare bones restore.  It probably won't work with the UEFI bios.  Yet another boondoggle there - too much of protecting you from yourself!

Many programs will need to be upgraded - I've been fortunate that my distributors have offered free upgrades.  Otherwise, add more bucks to the changes.  As an amateur radio operator, having to purchase upgrades for all the programs I use would be prohibitive (and time-consuming).

If you were a power user before, get ready to retrain.  They not only renamed things - they moved them sometimes several levels down in some rather obscure menus, IF they left them in a functional state.  Taking away many of the start menu items was a very bad mistake.  Restoring the start button won't help, either - that doesn't bring back the menu. Basically, they took control of the PC away from the user.  For example, installing a non-Micro$oft-approved program means you have to learn to click on the More Options button to get to the button that will allow you to Run Anyway.  

Will our business adopt win8?   Not in my lifetime.  It would require a LOT of training of users, many of which simply won't "get it".  The guy in the patrol car out in the boonies won't like having to get on the radio to find out how to use his laptop (or even just get logged in).

Our users carry guns, so we may start seeing bullet holes in the screens :-)

Ron W7HD


Webminotaur
Webminotaur

Re: Don't get side tracked. CharlieSpencer_Palmetto and I disagree, Minotaur Vulpinemac Yes, most computer buyers just want something they can take home, plug in, and start using. However, they aren't posting here - in fact they probably never heard of this site. My comments weren't addressed to them, just those who post here. Since the posters seem to know so much about computers, they should have no problem installing an OS. (Note I used "should," not "would.") CompUSA/TigerDirect does sell computers without an OS - I'm using one. I get Tiger's ads every day. They frequently advertise computers with no OS and just recommend one (currently Win 8). They also offer computers with Win 7/Win 8 Pro 64-bit, and are even still offering 32-bit Win 7. Companies like Best Buy just sell whatever their purchasing department gets. Almost all retail outlets (regardless of what they sell) have some type of "I want" form where customers can make their wants known. Even computer makers, like HP, Dell, Gateway, etc., have a feedback form on their sites. Those avenues are what people should use. Complaining here won't do any good.

Trentski
Trentski

All these fear mongers better get with the times

PeterM42
PeterM42

If you are an IT Director, assuming anything from 1 hour to half a day's training required PER PERSON when you have a user base of 30,000 employees, you are going to find it very difficult to cost-justify.

norwayboris
norwayboris

This happens in my company too. We have upgrade all the PC to windows 8 this month. However, we found it is similar to windows 7. And it does not help our operation efficient much.

mike
mike

In the fifth paragraph you say, "the Start menu will be reinstated." The Start button is supposed to be reinstated in Windows 8.1, but the Start MENU is not.

M Wagner
M Wagner

First and foremost, Windows 8.1/RT 8.1 are focused on mobile computing. That is the common thread between consumer computing and enterprise computing and that is how Windows 8.1 and Windows RT will make their way into the enterprise. Over the last three years, I have seen a huge growth in the number of keyboard-equipped iPads in business meetings. Now, all of a sudden, I am seeing Windows Surface RT and Surface Pro devices replacing those iPads and cumbersome Windows 7 notebooks. The trend is there and the enterprise is changing. Work desktops are still desktop systems but often they are accessing central systems running virtual applications. Mobile devices are running those same virtual applications. The enterprise will not adopt Windows 8/RT en masse. It took two years to embrace Windows 7 and that was two years ago! Operating system transitions usually follow hardware lifecycle replacement, and can take up to five years to complete. In the end though, as the enterprise seeks more efficient ways to deliver applications and data to workers, we will see a shift toward mobile devices for those who need them while keeping desktop devices accessing the same centralized resources.

stan_n
stan_n

I am looking at getting a new Dell Laptop for my son who is heading off to college this fall. The laptop comes with Windows 8.0. When 8.1 officially is released later in the summer, will 8.1 be a free update to 8.0 running on the new laptop?

stoneyh
stoneyh

Enterprise did not exactly embrace W7 either until Windows XP cycled out of support. That's because large enterprise environments don't campout in front of the store waiting for a new Windows version to unleash on their users. Windows 8 is fast, robust and no harder to use than any Windows product that you learn how to use, configure and support. I still will not be deploying it to my users because its just not how things are done. Stability of the network support model and user experience is the first order to the day. One year old operating systems good or bad are not part of that dynamic.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Sounds like you may be accidentally tapping the touchpad or touchpad keys. If not, try reposting this in the 'Q&A' forum. The 'Discussion' forum is for matters of general discussion, not specific problems in search of a solution. The 'Water Cooler' is for non-technical discussions. You can submit a question to 'Q&A' here: http://www.techrepublic.com/forum/questions/post?tag=mantle_skin;content There are TR members who specifically seek out problems in need of a solution. Although there is some overlap between the forums, you'll find more of those members in 'Q&A' than in 'Discussions' or 'Water Cooler'. Be sure to use the voting buttons to provide your feedback. Voting a '+' does not necessarily mean that a given response contained the complete solution to your problem, but that it served to guide you toward it. This is intended to serve as an aid to those who may in the future have a problem similar to yours. If they have a ready source of reference available, perhaps won't need to repeat questions previously asked and answered. If a post did contain the solution to your problem, you can also close the question by marking the helpful post as "The Answer".

rogcoley
rogcoley

And I am not hijacking it. However, I need to know how to stop automatic opening of links when I leave the cursor hovering over them. I had 100 characters typed into this box and the cursor was over another story link and BOOM! It changes to the link and erases my rant. This is insane and not acceptable. If this can't be circumvented I am returning my new Toshiba laptop.Please tell me how to turn off this "feature".

remmeler
remmeler

The biggest one that, for some reason I was not even aware of was the hate for the Vista/Win7 Start Button/Menu that resulted in the birth of Classic Shell which would allow you to bring back the XP Start Button/Menu (since been changed to allow you to bring back the XP or the Win7 Start Button/Menu. Here are some of the others: Can't Pin What We Want to Taskbar No Upgrade Install From XP to Windows 7 Most Desktop Gadgets Suck Windows Media Player Blows Sleep and Hibernation Are Still Crapshoots Control Panel Is a Mess http://gizmodo.com/5150284/7-things-we-hate-about-windows-7 Here are some more complaints from 2009 about Windows 7 http://amplicate.com/hate/windows7 How about why people hate XP from 2006 http://ubuntuforums.org/archive/index.php/t-189334.html

DataPoint1976
DataPoint1976

By now most everyone knows to skip the even releases since those seem to be the releases that Microsoft uses to launch the most radical changes to Windows which are never quite ready for prime time! Just like Vista's lack of maturity that was eventually distilled into a more refined W7, the same evolution will occur from W8 to W9. After trying an early W8 beta, I suggested to Microsoft that if they can write code to check a systems compatibility before installing, they should have no problem developing an intelligent installer that understands the device it is being installed on and presents a slightly customized UI and configuration. The install could be further refined by having the installee answering a few simple questions up front such as: Business vs Personal. It can't be a one-size-fits-all take W8 "as it is". There are just too many h/w and usage variables these days! That is the problem...Microsoft is trying to drive the W8 "square tiled peg" in round holes, triangle shaped holes...occassionally matching the square shaped holes presented by tablets. The only way I would buy W8 is if I had to buy a new tablet, otherwise I'm taking a wait and see position until W9.

GerryR1
GerryR1

For its time Windows 98SE was extremely good, so Microsoft gave us Windows ME. For its time XP Pro was was extremely good, so Microsoft gave us Vista. Windows 7 is superb so Microsoft has now given us Windows 8.x. Let us hope that the pattern continues and that Windows 9 (or whatever they will choose to call it) will be superb. Microsoft can never leave well enough alone, because a new OS means (they hope) more revenue. The only problem is that computer manufacturers are now aware that insofar as computer sales go Windows 8 is a greater albatross than Vista had been. So they're going back to Windows 7. Thank you computer manufacturers. Only next time test the new OS on a large group and if it's in the line of ME, Vista, Windows 8 - don't put it out on the market at all. You have the right to refuse this c**p. There are some good features in Windows 8, but they are far outweighed by the bad ones. The few good one could have been added to Windows 7 and sold as an upgrade.

mike.gordon
mike.gordon

Companies run on their core apps and any (repeated in MS case) attempt to change the OS without making it backwardly compatible can cost big time in new hardware and software and retraining. Companies using Open Source must be laughing at the antics of their MS colleagues caught on a treadmill of having to upgrade because the vendor of their OS makes them. As an enterprise tech support I marvel at the shortsightedness of some senior management. As a home user I resent not being able to buy a laptop or PC with an operating system that won't let me run perfectly good old applications but give me loads of "free" ones I didn't ask for and don't always want. Yes , one can reconfigure W8 UI to what you want in a corporate and home environment, but why should i have to ? Why don't MS ask customers what they want and deliver that , I'm sure we all know the answer there. A choice of "classic view" would have been nice rather that someone deciding whats best for you. I suspect W8 has been the biggest boost for Linux , Ubuntu etc in ages

mjc5
mjc5

I own a tablet. I own a desktop. Is the tablet a desktop? No. Is the desktop a tablet? No. It is a mistake to force a desktop to seem like a tablet. It is not a good concept, as you are forcing the more capable instrument to take on the attributes of the less capable instrument. When the initial concept is so completely wrong, it cannot be made right. Merely returning the start button is only one of the problems of W8.

TsarNikky
TsarNikky

When an OS is designed to pander to the tablet set, to the almost total abandonment of the laptop and desktop market; no wonder the enterprise market is not going to embrace. Yes, tablets and Windows-8 do have their place in the personal computer world--but hardly in the business world (at least not for a long time). To think, this whole mess could have been avoided had Microsoft been more thoughtful of their enterprise customers and given users a choice of UI on installation--one for touch-screens and one for keyboards/mice.

matenai
matenai

It still confounds me that companies that take ownership of a market forget how they did it. Microsoft did this by establishing itself as the largest installed base of operating systems. It forgot how many years it took to get there...people had to learn how to use this technology. Once it is learned then any changes in look and feel affecting use of EXISTING tools will be resisted. I always bought Microsoft Office because I needed to use it. Then the UI was "improved" so much so that I had (and still have) no idea how to use it. Even though I got all their products for free I learned to not even install or use them. First I did not have time to learn the new over and over again and I did not need the bloat of features. I refused to have my employees invest this time. In fact, I have found I can do all my word processing in an email and use of office features being reserved to interfacing with clients who insist on spending many hours making pretty pictures to present a simple idea (usually Asian clients that have a staff that spends most of their time making PowerPoint presentations as a way to release pent up creativity). It is a waste of resources. Windows 8 may have been necessary for MS to have a future but it did not need to make it an operating system...it is designed to compete with the consumer driven, touch, tablet world of sound and pictures...not primarily data. Win7 is the best they have made so far...why would anyone want to change...remember it was Vista that gave Linux a strong launch and solidified Apples Macs. Win8 promises to give more strength to all of it's competitors while disappointing existing users who will NOT invest in the re-education. It seems every major corporation I deal with has only just moved to Windows 7! You think they will invest in Win8! In fact, the one thing Apple has going for it is that it has remained largely the same with no ideas integrated and not challenging the users to learning all over again.

eoschlotz
eoschlotz

From what I can see so far, Microsoft did not really bring back the Start button. They provided a menu for quick access to some operations that are harder to do in W8, but there are no toolbars or quick launch or pinned apps. That grudging addition of something called "Start", but isn't really, is not enough to make W8 acceptable.

bobhaines
bobhaines

We have been using Windows 8 with the "Classic Shell" download from Source Forge. This restores the Start Button and boots straight into the desktop. So far those people who do not like Windows 8, love this configuration.Smart phones and tablets are lighter and smaller than laptops so they are more convenient but to create new work Windows 8 with SSD for increased speed has a great potential in my opinion. Also to work with multiple computers, smart phones, and tablets storing files on the cloud is a convenient way to work on the same files from multiple devices.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

but since I have one of their stores within fairly easy driving distance, I've checked and not noted any on their store shelves--they all come with some flavor of Windows installed that I've seen. (Maybe I just didn't search hard enough.) Meanwhile, it's the purchasing department that orders their stock and they order in bulk to get the lowest possible prices. As such, while they offer variety, they don't break down those orders to a given model with and without OS, for instance. I think what you meant to say was that the individual stores receive whatever the purchasing department orders and rarely will they order one-off models, especially if they'll cost more than the same model WITH an OS.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Try it on a standard desktop running Office or AutoCAD. There's no fear, just no advantage. It can be done, but what's the point to 'getting with the times'?

rogcoley
rogcoley

Thanks. I know better but GOOD LORD! This is driving me crazy and it's a short drive.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

Also, run some spyware/malware scans; what you describe is not a default "feature" of any legitimate OS of which I'm aware.

Webminotaur
Webminotaur

"they should have no problem developing an intelligent installer that understands the device it is being installed on and presents a slightly customized UI and configuration." If it's so easy to write such code, why don't you write it, get the copyright/patent for it, and license it out. You could make a bundle with it. Keeping Win 7 and waiting until the support ends is the best advice anyone can take. Use Win 8 versions on mobile platforms and learn how it works. After all, the major objection expressed is the user interface. By the time Win 7 expires, users will be used to something different (possibly even different from Win 8), and more comfortable in switching. Corporations getting a few copies of each OS for testing just makes good business sense. By the time they're ready to upgrade the IT folk will have verified the compatibility and also will be familiar with whatever they decide to use. As one person said, if corporations upgrade before the expiration of Win 7, it will be due to employee demand. So, IT needs to be ready.

remmeler
remmeler

Vista was so bad I had to buy the fix, which was Windows 7. Windows 8 is an slightly improved, slightly faster Windows 7 with a bolted on Modern Front End

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

That is exactly why they don't; because if they did, most of us would still be using DOS, or Win3, or Windows '95, or Windows '98... You get the point. A. People don't know what they want until they see it--then all they want to do is change it. B. People want the familiar--they don't want change, even if it makes them more efficient and faster. C. People don't know what is possible--until it's placed right in front of their noses. You seem to forget how many people migrated over to OS X because of Vista and later Win7. You seem to forget that each version of Windows HAS offered a "classic mode"--more accurately a means to run a compatibility mode for older software... up to a point. Yes, there is a point where running older software is simply inefficient as both hardware and OS capabilities have gone far beyond that now-antique software. Is linux really seeing growth because of it? Not really. Yes, they are seeing SOME growth, but while the installed base for linux has roughly doubled in the last 5 years, that still falls in under 3% world-wide and not much better in the States. OS X has seen their installed base rise to over 8% globally and over 16% in the States. Linux's problem? It is simply not user friendly enough--it still requires more hands-on management than most users want or even know how to employ.

Webminotaur
Webminotaur

I am constantly amazed at the people who chose to upgrade to a product specifically aimed at a different market, then complaining because the product doesn't act the way they want. Read some of what MS put out. Win 8 was optimized and aimed at the mobile, touch-enabled, market. It included desktop features so corporations and interested home users could test it. Win 8.1 includes extra features primarily of interest to corporations - largely in the area of incorporating multiple platforms into the corporate network. Win 8.1 is aimed at the enterprise in anticipation of integrating the growing mobile market. It still is not optimized for home use (except for those already using multiple platforms). Equally amazing are those who advocate learning a whole new OS, and possibly having to get & learn new software/hardware, rather than spend time learning to use Win 8. I totally fail to see the logic in that.

Webminotaur
Webminotaur

What is forcing anyone to use Win 8, or even 8.1? The change is totally voluntary. Win 7 is strong, stable, well liked, and will be supported for several years. There is really no compelling reason to abandon it - except maybe curiosity. Someone is sure to mention that it's hard to find computers without Win 8 preloaded. That is a manufacturer's problem, not Microsoft's. Microsoft still is not in a position to force any manufacturer out of business if they don't offer computers without Win 8. If more people would complain to the computer manufacturers instead of making such posts on tech sites, then the manufacturers would be more inclined to offer more options - like computers with no OS preloaded.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

The home/appliance user market is much bigger. That's what Sir Bill's put a computer in every home did, no longer dependent on business desktops.

remmeler
remmeler

Dos to Windows, Windows to XP, XP to Vista (I really mean the fix to Vista that I had to buy called Windows 7) and now Windows 8 These were big changes but not much controversy, maybe because the internet was not as formed or because the older operating system was so much of a problem that we would take anything new back then. I understand, but was not part of, the big dust up about changing the Start Button/Menu in XP to the one we now have in Vista and Windows 7. It was such a big deal that Classic Shell was born over the controversy.

remmeler
remmeler

On Desktop, where most of you complainers will spend most of your day, you have a folder automatically put on the Desktop on the lower task bar on the left called File Explorer. If you click on File Explorer and open the folder, then click on the Start Button you will see all that what the Start Button/Menu offered and more, except pinned programs are there. Pinned Program? Well those are all on the Front end. You can pin them there, reorganized them the way you want and even look at all programs by right clicking on a empty area on the Front end. You even have all your (techie) Admin programs turned into tiles automatically by, on the Front End, go to settings and Tiles and move the slider on Admin programs to yes. You can then eliminate the tiles you don't want and reorganize the ones you want to keep there. So yes, it should take you about 3 seconds to realize you get much more but you have to remember that program listings and pinning is on the Front End and the rest of the stuff that was on the Start Button/Menu is in the Folder "File Explorer" on your Desktop Task Bar. It is new but not that different and not that hard to understand. By the way. I still use Classic Shell. I know I can do everything and more without it but I still love my Start Button/Menu, so I added it for free.

remmeler
remmeler

It makes it easy and consistent to have one and, from what I understand, it is not difficult for any IT Dept to create one for their particular needs.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

Few people seem to remember that Microsoft promoted its touch interface back in 2000 and again in '01 to, at best, lackluster interest. That capability was in Windows XP for all those years with only a few thousand devices produced to use it over the next decade and no software on the open market to take advantage of the interface. In fact, it wasn't until the Apple iPad that interest was even generated in tablet-style computing. What was the first argument against the iPad? "We want a full-powered desktop OS on it!" Huh? They were saying that they wanted what had been available for 10 years already, yet had ignored that capability almost entirely UNTIL Apple brought out something other people actually used. They clamored for Microsoft to come out with something that would beat Apple's offering so Microsoft tried again to meet their demands--to near-universal derision. More than half of the people who tried the beta for Win8 hated the UI which would make users want to touch it--to the point that they again want to simply ignore the tablet as a viable PC. Sure, Win8 is different; nearly every version of Windows has been at least somewhat different from its predecessor, in some ways better, other ways worse. That really hasn't stopped each version from garnering some user base even when it was so roundly hated. I'm almost amazed that Vista took so long to fall, now almost 6 years after it was introduced even though Win7 was so universally acclaimed as superior (and yet drove so many users to either Linux or OS X). Steve Jobs was right. People really don't know what they want until they see it. Market panels are useless when it comes to designing new technology.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"Microsoft still is not in a position to force any manufacturer out of business if they don't offer computers without Win 8." MS is the 800-pound gorilla. I suspect any hardware manufacturer who is unable to get Windows licenses won't last long, at least not in the consumer market, and right now W8 licenses are all MS will sell them. If they choose to not buy W8 and can't legally load W7, what's left? Linux? Get serious; that's been tried in the consumer market several times, always unsuccessfully. This is one reason why hardware vendors are so concerned about Surface and MS's entry into the hardware market, however limited it may initially be. If MS is successful with Surface, they may choose to go the Apple route and roll their own systems, especially for specific formats.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Shift from ini files to registry Integrating the browser Dos inside desktop UAC DRM The ribbon WGA I remember a lot of controverting...

Webminotaur
Webminotaur

Please read what I wrote. I said "for testing," not "rollout/deployment." No IT department with any sense would just begin mass installation without running tests first.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

Absorb all the issues one time so that from then on, all the imaged machines work right. (Hopefully)

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

creating that master isn't difficult, but it can be time consuming and detail oriented. Upgrading an existing one usually takes two to four trial installations before finalizing the new master, depending on the applications and patches being updated. Creating a new master from scratch for a new OS can take as many as seven or more trials to get everything 'just right'. But once you've got it, life is GOOD.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

Literally, they "clone" a corporate-approved install and use that as the "gold master" to clone every single PC that comes through the doors to prevent installation variations generated by using an installer disk as well as taking far less time than going through the installation process. Where the typical install may take from 30 to 90 minutes, burning the Disk Image may only take 10 to 15 minutes and be performed on multiple machines at the same time from a single master.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

After all, they did push it--twice. On the other hand, developers ignored it. Microsoft did make the mistake of not really trying to demonstrate its usefulness, too. Had they, like Apple, written a few apps that really took advantage of touch--showing how touch could make the workflow smoother--then Microsoft could have taken the lead 10 years ago. Instead, they left it up to the market to find a use for it and let Apple come in almost 10 years later to show how it should have been done. Now Microsoft is following Apple's lead by essentially ignoring the popular commentary and pushing what they feel IS the better system. I think you'll find that bringing the Start button back will have almost no effect on Win8's rate of adoption.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I think the big difference was that Apple had all those applications already developed for their phones. People had become comfortable with that platform and its competitors, and initially saw Apple's tablets as just larger versions. Microsoft had only the existing 2K and XP applications, none of which were designed to take full advantage of touch, and (here's the really big difference) apparently did nothing to encourage the development of them. I still think OneNote could have been the 'killer app' for XP tablets, but MS has neglected it in multiple ways.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

The big commercial stores like Best Buy or even CompUSA/Tiger Direct don't sell any PCs without an OS, though I might accept that some Mom & Pop stores will. The reason is that the people who visit a big-chain retailer go there for the fact that what they buy is ready to use out of the box, as the vast majority of them, like CS-Palmetto says, don't have the know-how or the desire to know. Customers of a Mom & Pop either have some skills of their own or want a custom-built machine at which point they'll either install their own OS or yet again, have a custom install configured just the way they want it. And while I'll admit your simile is more accurate, it doesn't change the point that a computer is useless without the OS.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"The OS is more like the onboard monitoring computer. It's main function is to manage resources used by various programs. In the older cars there were multiple gauges, a throttle and choke, and several other items that had to be monitored/adjusted by the driver - sort of like DOS to the computer. The UI is more like the dashboard, turn signal/light controls, windshield wiper/washer controls, and the audio system." Okay, if that's the analogy you want to use, the conclusion is still the same. Consumers expect to buy a fully functional system, be it a computer or a car. Whether it's an OS or all the gadgets you describe, they expect them to be there and don't want to have to install them themselves. Again, they don't have the skills or tools, and don't regard them as worth acquiring for a job they'll only perform every few years. "Computer without an OS are readily available through many retail outlets. ... If enough customers demanded no-OS computer, companies would be more prone to sell them." Computer specialty outlets maybe, or the dwindling number of 'Mom and Pop' shops. Don't look for one on a big box retailers' or hardware manufacturers' web sites because, as you note, consumers don't demand them. What you haven't provided is a reason why consumers should demand them, why consumers should want to buy computers without operating systems, computers they can't open the box and fire up.

Webminotaur
Webminotaur

Computer without an OS are readily available through many retail outlets. I'm using one that did not come with an OS (although I had the option to purchase one). If enough customers demanded no-OS computer, companies would be more prone to sell them. They can still make profit from the HD, DVD players/writers, video cards, etc. (which they already but cheap and sell high). Your similitude is invalid. The CPU is the equivalent to a car engine. The OS is more like the onboard monitoring computer. It's main function is to manage resources used by various programs. In the older cars there were multiple gauges, a throttle and choke, and several other items that had to be monitored/adjusted by the driver - sort of like DOS to the computer. The UI is more like the dashboard, turn signal/light controls, windshield wiper/washer controls, and the audio system. The steering wheel, brake and gas peddles and clutch (on some cars) are more like the motherboard's connectors.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"The main reason they don't is because of the extra profit they can get from their customers (buy cheap - sell high)." The main reason they don't is because consumers will no more buy a computer without an OS than they would a car without an engine. Even if someone else was giving Linux / engines for free, the average consumer has neither the skills nor the tools to install it, and isn't willing to waste time and money acquiring them for something he will only do once every three or four years.

Webminotaur
Webminotaur

Don't forget that manufacturers don't have to sign the contract with MS. They could sell no-OS computers to non-enterprise purchasers, too. The main reason they don't is because of the extra profit they can get from their customers (buy cheap - sell high). NOTE: This is true of nearly every market - especially cars. The cost of their "standard" features are actually included in the base price, and the customer must pay that even if the feature is not wanted. I wonder if auto sites have people complaining about having to pay for a fancy sound system when all they want is a basic radio? Or chrome spoke wheels when all they wanted were standard wheels where they could mount their moon hubcaps?

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

I can't fully agree with you, either. While your points are quite valid, if an OEM's market is essentially the enterprise (for example, both Dell and HP) they don't NEED any OS installed at all since the hard drives get re-imaged as soon as they come in the door. This saves those OEMs the cost of buying otherwise un-used Windows licenses (which gets passed on to the customer) and lets the customer avoid paying double--for one license that will never be used. The consumer market pretty much demands a user friendly OS on their machines and THERE, you are right.