Windows

Five reasons businesses should adopt Windows 8

Scott Lowe provides five reasons that businesses may want to give Windows 8 a shot when it comes out.

The Windows 8 Consumer Preview release was issued recently with much fanfare and with a great number of analysts weighing in on their thoughts about the product.  From outright derision to great optimism, the blogosphere is weighing in with opinions that run the gamut.  In this blog, I'll provide five reasons that businesses may want to give Windows 8 a shot when it comes out.

Common user experience across devices

With Windows 8, Microsoft has revolutionized the user interface in an attempt to better marry the tablet and PC markets and to usher PCs more into the world of the user-friendly touch interface.  As more and more organizations succumb to burgeoning BYOD initiatives and as more business find uses for tablets in the enterprise, this interface unification will make it easier for users to switch seamlessly between devices, enabling new use cases and expanding business opportunities.

Windows To Go

In short, Windows To Go allows you to run Windows 8 from a flash drive.  It provides enterprises with ways to run Windows 8 from a USB drive even when older versions of Windows are installed on the host.  The Windows To Go installation can include software applications that are necessary for the user to do his work.

Not all Windows features are available in Windows To Go, such as the ability to hibernate and go to sleep, but Windows To Go allows the user to carry the flash drive between computers and use that Windows installation anywhere he likes.

Push Button Reset

Ever since the advent of the registry - and even when we were still using INI files - Windows installations have had a tendency to get "dirty" and cluttered up over time. This clutter results in slow boot times, slower application performance, errors and no end to user complaints.  Although more recent Windows versions don't carry as much cruft with them over time, with Windows 8, Microsoft has made it easier than ever for IT departments to correct issues that would have once required reimaging a PC, but there are some caveats.

This feature, named Push Button Reset, has two modes:

  • Reset Your PC. Reset your PC to its factory state. All files, programs and other customizations are lost.
  • Refresh Your PC. Similar to Reset Your PC, but retains user data and any Metro apps that have been installed. Here's the caveat: Traditional Windows programs aren't included; those need to be reinstalled after the refresh process completes.

Regardless of which method you choose, if you have other system management tools in place, such as System Center Configuration Manager, you can leverage these tools to repopulate a newly reset Windows 8 desktop, but the initial imaging process will be very fast.  As such, a Push Button Reset feature can help corporate desktop users get back into production very quickly.

Faster boot time

Time is money.  The longer that a user's PC takes to boot, the less productive that user can be.  Further, as Microsoft positions Windows to complete against devices in new form factors, users simply won't stand for long boot times.  Microsoft has demonstrated a Windows 8 boot process that takes 8 seconds.  Yes, seconds.

New login options

From a security perspective, passwords alone are a pretty terrible form of authentication, which is why so many companies have adopted secondary login methods to gain access to systems and information.  As the world moves toward touch interfaces, traditional passwords become even more cumbersome.  In order to improve security, Windows 8 has added the ability to use gestures on a picture for login purposes.  In short, you choose a picture and then perform gestures on that picture.  The combination becomes your credentials.  Windows remembers the points at which you started and ended certain gestures and the location on the pictures where you performed the gestures.

If you want to learn more about this feature, take a look at this MSDN article.

3G/4G support

As the world becomes increasingly mobile, operating systems must evolve to leverage this newfound ability.  Windows 8 includes native 3G and 4G capabilities.  The operating system can detect your SIM card, determine the vendor and download the appropriate connection app from the Windows App Store, if it's available.  From an IT support perspective, this is nice.  It can make it much simpler to support.

Summary

Windows 8 will bring a lot of change to the world of IT and to the world of the user.  It can bring to organization added flexibility, lower costs and increased productivity.

About

Since 1994, Scott Lowe has been providing technology solutions to a variety of organizations. After spending 10 years in multiple CIO roles, Scott is now an independent consultant, blogger, author, owner of The 1610 Group, and a Senior IT Executive w...

7 comments
Dukhalion
Dukhalion

Does anybody remember a version of windows that wasn't supposed to "revolutionize" computer use and be the "best and easiest windows yet"? Since the last three releases I have had the feeling that MS just tosses all the old functions in a hat, shakes it for a while, and then pulls the old user interface together in a completely new and unfamiliar way. All the things that You had learned where they were, You have to search for again, and find in the most unexpected places. The only real surprise with windows7 for me was: no email program. It was probably MS's answer to viruses and malware. They must have thought, if You can't fix it them remove the service, no one will notice. I'm still quite happy with XP3, and our company sees no reason to upgrade even after 2014. MS has to invent (ste@l) some pretty awsome technology before it will be worth the effort to upgrade. 'But the security, and the support', I hear You say. Does [b]anybody[/b] rely on window's own security systems? I thought not. And when was the last time You contacted MS's support and got.... support? Same here. Never. But what about the stock level interleaved De-Dup-Flip-Flop that Windows Premium Hyperlinium Sanitarium Server 8 offers right under the box? Well, You got me there. What was I thinking about.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Common user experience - uh, Windows 8 doesn't provide that, and won't until it gets all apps on the same GUI. There's no common user experience as long as we're switching between Metro and psuedo-Aero, depending on what each app needs. I don't get the point of Windows To Go in a corporate environment. If a user needs W8 on a system, why not just install it? I'm missing something here. I could see some advantages to the reset option for consumers. For the workplace, I wouldn't bother with the Reset when I can re-image the drive; that will put all my apps back. I wouldn't try the Refresh until I tried System Restore first (assuming it exists in W8) because Restore doesn't wipe any apps. I'll bet that eight second boot requires a solid state drive. I don't know about the value of increase boot times on desktops and laptops is worth replacing the mechanical drives in those systems. Mostly, I wish I could get my users to shut down in the first place. Ditto the hardware costs of implementing those new login methods. I can't see us paying for touch screens for desktops just to log on. Our laptops already have fingerprint sensors. 3G/4G is only of value to mobile users. Pointing out advantages like this one help drive the belief that MS doesn't really care about running W8 on traditional desktops and non-cellular laptops.

Skruis
Skruis

Seems most business centric websites are panning Windows 8. I don't think it's a horrible idea to have Windows 8 on a business desktop. After all, if most user's use only Outlook, Word and Excel well then, those are the only tiles that need to be on the Metro start menu and then there's 0 user confusion. I do like the live tile notifications with the alternating messages. It might be nice if you could sidebar certain applications tiles on the left side of the screen so you can see at a glance what email is waiting, what users are messaging you (internal business IM is on the rise), etc but that's probably too minor of a thing. Most people would probably say, just leave the window open! but I'm one of those users that tends to maximize what I'm working on to push everything else out of view so I can focus. That's not to say I don't like multiple windows or the desktop (having multiple windows open side by side or cascaded has advantages), it's just that I like to focus on one thing at a time and only use multiple windows when I have to so...I can see having windows 8 on a desktop computer. I just dont think it's going to happen widescale. That being said, it's pretty damn sweet on my Series 7 slate!

James.carroll
James.carroll

This product will fall under microsoft's "ever other OS" syndrom, it will be skipped. The learning curve for users is too great and windows 7 does everything major corporations NEED it to do. Companies are not as mobile as you think, yes they have mobile users but security wise there are many products out there that are domain friendly that cost less than a new OS. I love new technology and will be testing windows 8 today but I am looking at this from a real business world and not an IT playland. 8 sec bootup time is great however, most computers get started once a week... Many users hibernate so they can keep their place or they are running a desktop that gets window locked. Windows to go is nice for IT but I don't see it as a practical use for the end user, the features are there but the consumers will be the lab rats for this experiment.

SmartyParts
SmartyParts

Don't forget about the block level De-Dup that Windows Server 8 will offer out of the box.

Slayer_
Slayer_

The vast majority of business users need outlook, word and excel, that's it. In many businesses, even internet is restricted.

rickrouth
rickrouth

But that's exactly why Metro *could* (massive emphasis) be very successful. If MS releases office as a Metro App, then we could setup users with a very simple desktop. If MS really does it right, they'll let us lock users out of the standard desktop altogether. That would let a user log in, ONLY access outlook, work, and excel, and do their work without having the opportunity to do non-work on employer equipment.