Windows 8

How to become an in-demand Windows 8 consultant

Windows 8 projects are coming for IT consultants. Will Kelly advises on which Windows 8 areas to be knowledgeable about in order to position yourself as the right person for such a job.

If you look at any of the online job sites, you are apt to see the first Windows 8 job requirements starting to trickle out. There is a 10-digit Microsoft marketing budget behind the Windows 8 product launch, which in itself is bound to feed IT consultant opportunities through marketing and partner programs to ensure Windows 8 makes it into Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs) and large corporate enterprises.

The time to start learning more about Windows 8 is now. In order to become an in-demand consultant for Windows 8 projects, you need to possess a unique mix of business, Windows-specific, and mobile knowledge and skills to qualify for projects that focus on the following areas.

Windows 8 configuration and optimization

There will be plenty of work for IT consultants optimizing Windows 8 as part of an initial deployment or through follow-up projects. The configuration and optimization could span the basics of PC configuration, networking, and user policies.

Exam 70-687 Configuring Windows 8 could be a great start to building such skills.

Windows 8 security

One of the best drivers that Microsoft has for the business adoption of Windows 8 is improved security. IT consultants will play a major role in integrating Windows 8 security into the enterprise, as well as developing/revising the related security policies and procedures.

There are major changes to security architecture in Windows 8 that will benefit enterprises; these changes include the new AppContainer, TPM access, Bitlocker Encryption, Advanced ASLR, and even the Windows Store. It's going to take consulting support to help enterprises adopt these new security options.

The Windows 8 Security forum offers a strong discussion on the topic. Exam 70-687 also covers some elements of Windows 8 security.

Windows 8 evangelism

Windows 8 adoption might be a trickier affair than some vendors and even Microsoft expect. With the combined forces of tight IT budgets due to the economy, long-term Windows XP stability inside some enterprises, and Windows 7 customer satisfaction, some large corporate customers might consider passing on Windows 8 or at least delaying their migration to it.

Microsoft, its partners, and the IT consultants doing the project work will need to be salespeople and advocates for the company's latest operating system. A consultant who can speak to the benefits of the OS and be able to follow-up with proposals for implementation and Windows 8 application development projects will be in a better position to nail down a Windows 8 project.

Windows 8 application development

As a matter of course, software vendors will want their applications to take advantage of the new Windows 8 interface. The big question remains: What sorts of internal corporate applications will warrant Windows 8 love? Windows 8 application development skills are something to position as a follow-up to an enterprise migration.

Microsoft MSDN and TechNet are the best places to start learning about Windows 8 application development right now if you are already an experienced programmer.

Windows 8 mobile development

Windows 8 spans PCs, tablets, and mobile phones, so Microsoft will target enterprises with a large mobile user population. Therefore, Visual Studio 11 development skills will become important for IT consultants who want to support mobile initiatives and especially dual Microsoft Surface/Windows 8 rollouts.

If you are an iOS developer, Microsoft already has online resources to help you transition to Windows 8 mobile development.

Windows 8 User Experience (UX) consulting

Windows 8 is bound to change the UX, and consultants can be on the front lines advising development teams on designing for touch, information architecture, adaptive layouts, and related matters for the new UI. There are also changes in the Office 2013 UX that will drive new application standards and that clients will want to emulate in their Windows 8 applications.

I foresee Windows 8 UX consulting having real legs especially if Microsoft succeeds in the Windows 8/Surface tablet twofer to their enterprise customers, thus opening the door to cross-platform applications.

Channel 9 on MSDN has made available Windows 8 UX Fundamentals Workshop 2012, which is a good way to start learning the basics.

Windows 8 training

Considering the marked changes to Windows 8's UI and security features, it's natural that consultants will get tasked to train users and internal staff on the operating system's features. By extension, training may also mean developing training guides, presentations, FAQs, and getting started guides for users and the in-house staff tasked with Windows 8 support after the consulting engagement ends.

Build your Windows 8 knowledge and skills now

Regardless of what you think about Windows 8, the massive launch budget and technology upgrade cycles mean that corporate enterprise migrations are going to come, and now is the time to position yourself as an in-demand consultant for those projects.

Additional Windows 8 resources on TechRepublic

About

Will Kelly is a technical and marketing communications writer based in the Washington, DC area. He has written about SMB technology, data center management, project management applications, mobile computing, Microsoft Office, and productivity applica...

5 comments
gedwin_hernandez
gedwin_hernandez

why do we need to conform and just accept that there is no other viable option? there is plenty of choice to move forward with Linux technology and many flavors that are server and client friendly, why would I just stay with one thing that we might not like when there are plenty of other cheaper and probably better choices?

timmorton
timmorton

I was surprised to stumble upon this article this morning, when I had just read Bill Detwiler's Windows and Office blog (http://goo.gl/M3sLw) in which he revealed that 74% of organisations have no plans to move to Windows 8. So which is it? Are there going to be a small number of Windows 8 consultants who are very much in demand by a minority of organisations or is there about to be an explosion of upgrades when the majority get in "touch" with the value of Windows 8?

Luke G.
Luke G.

Nobody liked Vista either, but eventually it was the only option readily available on new hardware, so businesses and individuals who didn't have the savvy to put XP on those boxes had little alternative than to get Vista. In like manner, eventually 8 will be what you get with new hardware. So, like it or not, businesses and individuals will again be at the mercy of forced change/obsolescence. So, it would definitely be a benefit for consultants who take it upon themselves to learn 8 now, and particularly learn how to either 1) make it more familiar to users of 7/Vista with a view to helping them transition to it, or 2) make it integrate and play nice with their masses of existing equipment and various flavors of Windows/etc. Clients look to us for guidance, and we can't always just tell them to 'stick with XP/7/3.11', or the like, even if that's the current popular ideaology. Sometimes they need us to guide them into new, unfamiliar waters safely. That's my $0.02 anyway. :)

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Maybe it's about being a big consulting fish in a (relatively) small W8 pond with the potential for slow growth. Even if business doesn't adopt W8 on the desktop, there's room for development on the tablet / mobile device side. Regardless of whether W9 continues with the Metro GUI, reverts to the traditional / Aero-style interface, or something completely different, there will be some W8 consulting skills that will carry over to its replacement.

emboko
emboko

I totally agree with you. Bill gave us the score as it is now. But when metrics change and people start moving to Win8 as hardware prices come down/economy improves and even new equipment comes with it pre-installed, you need to be there. No mixed signals here the way i see it