Windows

Windows 7 to Windows 8: Tips on easing users' migration anxieties

Windows 8 Metro is such a major UI change that users migrating from Windows 7 might need some hand-holding. Read more Windows 8 migration tips.
End users do not like change -- they simply want the technology they use to always work and to always work in the same way regardless of operating system, which is something many OS designers don't understand. Their lack of understanding makes your job of helping users adjust to a drastically different user interface more difficult.

For instance, when the time comes to migrate from Windows 7 to Windows 8, Microsoft's take on the Windows 7 Mobile interface called Metro is going to throw some users for a loop. (The Windows 7 Mobile interface is one of the worst UI designs ever, in my opinion.) Here are tips on how to help reduce users' anxieties about this major migration.

Don't be an early adopter

You won't have to immediately upgrade your machines to Windows 8, so I recommend giving users a chance to learn more about Windows 8 before launching in to the migration. You might even be able to wait long enough for some users to purchase a PC that's powered by Windows 8. If you can let users get used to the platform on their terms, it will go a long way to easing their anxiety about adopting the platform at work.

Remind users about previous migrations

Your end users probably had to migrate from Windows XP to Windows 7, and most likely they ultimately realized their concerns about moving to Windows 7 were unfounded. Oh sure, the interface was different, but they were able to change gears and get their work done.

The difference between the Windows 7 and Windows 8 interface is greater than that between Windows XP and Windows 7, but users' biggest hurdles to overcome will be how to launch their applications.

Educate and train users on Metro

One of the best ways to prevent angst-filled discussions about the migration is to educate users about Windows 8 and train them on the Metro interface well before the adoption date. The more users know about the UI prior to using it, the less stress there will be. The most important thing users will want to know is whether they will be able to complete their work without delays, so reassure them that won't be a problem.

Start with a power user

If one of your users welcomes change, you could migrate that person to Windows 8 first, and then let their coworkers observe how easy it is for them to use Metro as part of their daily work (assuming that is the case).

Use ViStart or disable Metro

For users who have a lot of trouble getting used to the Metro interface, the tiny ViStart app might be a good option. ViStart, which was originally created to give Windows XP a Windows 7 look and feel, can add the Windows 7 Start menu to Windows 8. The downsides are you have to jump through some hoops (which include creating a blank toolbar and adding the ViStart button and your other items to that toolbar), and the setup is not ideal and could take a while depending upon how many users you have.

There is also a registry hack that disables Metro. (Note: You should always back up data before making any registry changes.) You navigate to: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer. In the Windows registry, search for the RPEnabled, right-click that key, and select Modify. Change the key from 1 to 0, click OK, and close the registry. Metro should be disabled. A more elegant and easier solution will hopefully surface in time. There's also a chance that Microsoft will make it impossible to disable the Metro interface prior to the full release. Even if that does happen, I bet someone will find a way around it.

Be patient and do a little hand-holding

When migrating users to Windows 8, you're going to get a lot more help requests; this will likely lead you to feel frustrated and require you to be even more patient and understand that hand-holding will be at a premium. Don't hesitate to remind end users that you are there to help. If they know they have that life jacket, it will ease a lot of their worries.

Summary

There will be plenty of bumps in the road to Windows 8, but with a little forethought and care, you can prevent those bumps from turning into mountains. If you can keep in mind that users don't have your set of skills and just want to be able to do their jobs, this level of understanding will go a long way toward a smooth Windows 8 migration.

More about Windows 8 on TechRepublic

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

13 comments
carlsf
carlsf

We are a desktop/Notebook house (no tablets) and our phone are not required to interface with the server. The beta's trails have been tried and rejected by users. WIN8 a NO GO here due to our requirements and the UI.

ultimitloozer
ultimitloozer

"The most important thing users will want to know is whether they will be able to complete their work without delays, so reassure them that won???t be a problem."

Gisabun
Gisabun

Why people actually read these blogs. For starters, the registry hack [as mrentioned previously] has been disable. Did Jack ever install ViStart? I tried it on the CP. Not only did it install that but it also put an Outlook Express icon at the top of the menu! Outlook Express in Windows 7 or Windows 8? It also installed all kinds of other crap that you didn't ask for. Even more crap was installed. All of a sudden there was something added to the "Run" key in the registry that had nothing to do with ViStart. Did a search on the EXE and some suggest it could be some type of malware. While I haven't tested it on the first beta [or whatever MS calls it, try Start8 from Stardock.

AudeKhatru
AudeKhatru

I am imagining the meeting at Tech Republic.... "Yea sure, let's let someone who dislikes the Metro UI write the an article with tips on migration to Windows 8." At least this is a mostly positive article, but when there are six tips, and three of them are.... -don't be an early adopter -disable metro -hold their hands Then there really are only three items, and they are so obvious that even I or any of the other commenters could have written this article and most would have done a better job. It's also a bit early for this article, since the OS won't even be available until September (if then). Let me give you some better ideas for articles. -How to prepare your users for a Windows 8 migration. -Why you might want to be a Windows 8 early adopter (Yes, there are reasons) -Why you might NOT want to be a Win8 early adopter (Not written by someone who feels you should give it a miss) We've had enough of the whiney, "we don't like Metro" articles (and comments). How about something constructive for a change. This article is half constructive, which is an improvement, but it is way too early.

sire_tim
sire_tim

Windows 8 UI so far is the major difference (for the desktop, in terms of features that users actually are influenced by from our companies perspective) that we've seen. And to quote one of our trial run users, it's "as for the UI.. awful. like I put my wishes and desires for an OS into a blender and mangled them into pulp before using it as an enema. just get this [junky junk junk] off my machine". I kid you not, except for the family friendly edit inside the [], that's verbatim. Same guy fell in love with Windows 7 when we piloted it. So for us, no thanks. The benefits of Windows 7 were real, and a real easy sell over XP for the older generation in our company; we see nothing in the desktop Win8 that makes sense. Now, the server editions.. yes, there we might be interested.

Reality Bites
Reality Bites

Microsoft would have to be the most pathetic company in the history of pathetic. From the Second version of Dos ever to be released to windows 8, every single release a more pathetic statement of ineptness and complete lack of pride in workmanship. What is the computers single point of failure it's entire life..... microsoft... Where Default = Fail.

Dogcatcher
Dogcatcher

Great idea. Much desired. Not currently possible. RPEnabled has been removed, and re-creating it has no effect. Microsoft is doing everything possible to force customers to use Metro, whether or not they want it. And I suspect most don't.

lilricky
lilricky

From what I've heard from others, no one sees the need for a mobile ui on a desktop. Especially since the Windows kernel isn't being updated with any major changes. if a user really wants it there are desktop replacements you can run if you want big blocks on your desktop, why pay over a hundred dollars to get something you can get for free?

Abhishek Chauhan
Abhishek Chauhan

I recently attended a demo session for Windows 8 at my company and must say that Windows 8 is a potential game changer. I liked some of the things that could be created on the fly. However, i do agree that the Metro UI is the flip side as the demonstrator had to scroll through pages to locate the application he wanted to launch for the demo. I guess that is a little cumbersome when compared to the convenience Windows 7 or the older versions of Windows provided. Also, the Metro UI looks good on touch devices, rather than devices that had pointing aids. With the integartion Microsoft is planning with the office suite and the SDK's ppl are going to have a tough time browsing through the pages, unless Microsoft comes up with a fix. Will look at this space to see more...

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

While I am someone who won't be rolling W8 out this year or maybe even next, I won't be treating it any differently from other new versions of Windows. Many IT shops have a policy of not deploying a new Microsoft OS until after the first service pack is released. The productivity gains are rarely worth fighting the inevitable bugs that remain to be found by the early adopters.

cybershooters
cybershooters

They killed that awhile ago. There are a few new features in Windows 8 over 7, SMB 3 being a useful one but to really use it you need Windows Server 2012 on your servers. In reality it's pretty much Windows 7 (aka Windows NT 6.1) with a new UI (aka Windows NT 6.2). I cannot see any real reason in an enterprise to go to it, except for use on tablets. From an actual "what does it do" perspective, there are less differences between 7 and 8 than there were between Vista and 7, and I never really understood why everyone got excited about Windows 7 because it's not hugely different from Windows Vista (aka Windows NT 6.0). The Micrsoft rep at the launch meeting I went to described Windows 7 as being to Vista what Windows XP was to Windows 2000, which is correct, imo. The main advantage was the better memory handling in Windows 7. The first thing I did was load up Office 2003 onto Windows 8, proving the point. My opinion is wait for a truly new version of Windows, i.e. Windows NT 7.0, whenever that comes out.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I though MS had already killed that particular workaround in the Customer Preview.