Windows 8 will give businesses the experiences people love and the enterprise-grade solutions IT departments need. It delivers what today’s workforce wants, bringing new possibilities in mobile productivity, end-to-end security, virtualization and management advancements, and the business tablets you’ve been waiting for. Windows 8 delivers a fast, fluid, no-compromise experience for businesses; along with a user interface that responds equally well to touch as it does to a keyboard and mouse.
Windows 8 works with today’s hardware and Microsoft are working toward ensuring the software and application compatibility investments customers are making today for Windows 7 will carry forward. So if you’re in the process of moving to Windows 7, Microsoft encourages you to continue with your deployment while evaluating Windows 8 to see how it will benefit your business in a variety of ways, including:
- Windows on the go – New features like Windows To Go will give businesses new possibilities in mobile productivity. It’s a fully manageable corporate Windows 8 desktop on a bootable USB stick and it will allow employees to work from anywhere on any device, while also helping IT professionals keep their organizations secure.
- Working from anywhere – Enhancements with DirectAccess, Branch Cache and Mobile Broadband eliminate work boundaries while keeping employees secure.
- Security –The end-to-end security in Windows 8 is driving a significant level of interest with many clients planning to take advantage of features like Trusted Boot, BitLocker Drive Encryption and AppLocker, enabling a more secure foundation no matter where employees are located.
- Windows 8 tablets – Microsoft are also getting a lot of feedback from customers about Windows 8 tablets since they will offer a no compromise solution to business delivering both mobile convenience and productivity by running all the Windows 7 line of business and productivity apps with the ability to manage and secure them.
- Business apps – Microsoft are hearing overwhelming excitement about the business possibilities with new Windows 8 apps both for internal usage (line of business) as well as the opportunity for organizations to create new innovative experiences for their customers. Windows 8 is a great platform for enterprise developers and the expectation is that there are a lot of innovative enterprise apps to come.
There's no denying that Windows 8 works best if you have a touchscreen computer.
Swiping across the Start screen, swiping in charms, pinching for semantic zoom, playing games; if you treat Windows 8 as a tablet OS, you get the fast and fluid experience Microsoft has been promising all along (even on older touchscreen tablet PCs, although they're not as smooth and often have bezels that get in the way).
This is something that has improved since the first release of Windows 8. Swiping the charm bar and app switcher in from the left edge of a touchscreen with your finger is smoother and less fiddly than in the preview releases.
Dragging apps to the bottom of the screen to close them is smooth and responsive, but it's no longer easy to close an app by accident. Unlike the preview versions where you could accidentally close the picture password setup halfway through by dragging down too far with a gesture, touch control in the RTM is smooth and fluid, even on older touchscreens.
But Windows 8 isn't just the Start screen and Modern UI apps. Touch on the desktop is still a hybrid way to work. You can use gestures at the sides of the screen for task switching and working with charms and you can swipe to switch to Modern UI apps.
You can even swipe down from the top of the screen and drag the thumbnail off the screen to close the desktop, like any other Modern UI app. You can also touch anything you'd traditionally click with a mouse.
Transition to Windows 7 or Windows 8?
For those still on Windows XP, Microsoft have talked a lot about the importance of migrating to Windows 7. Most recently they highlighted an IDC study that concluded, “Organizations that continue to retain a Windows XP environment not only are leaving themselves exposed to security risks and support challenges, but also are wasting budget dollars that would be better used in modernizing their IT investments.”
Our guidance remains the same: we encourage you to accelerate your move to Windows 7 to experience dramatic savings and functionality over Windows XP. It’s also a good time to consider a proof of concept or small pilot for Windows 8 so you can experience, firsthand, the business benefits enabled by the new capabilities described above.
Upgrade from Windows 7 and you can keep programs, Windows settings and files; upgrade from Vista and keep settings and files. Upgrading from Windows XP only gives you your personal files.
Unlike Windows 7, you can't do a full upgrade from any of the preview versions of Windows 8; you'll need to restore your previous version of Windows from a backup, do an upgrade that only keeps your files or do a clean installation.
This option only appears with Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro; if you have the Enterprise version, you have to upgrade from another Enterprise edition of Windows, and the previews of Windows 8 were all Windows 8 Pro, so the only option is a clean install.
It's a bold move to head off the danger of Windows becoming irrelevant in an iPad future by giving you the best of both worlds.
You can have a slim, lightweight, cheap tablet with a tablet OS that can also run Office and turn into a notebook when you add a keyboard.
Alternatively you can have a slightly larger and pricier tablet with a tablet OS that can also run Office and all your applications and turn into a notebook when you add a keyboard.....
Or you can get all of that in a notebook or a desktop, as long as you can deal with the touch-friendly interface.
Undeniably, Windows 8 shines most on a touchscreen system. Even older touch notebooks that were awkward to use with touch under Windows 7 give you a great experience and the latest tablets are fun and engaging to use.
Features such as rotation work immediately, without you having to hunt down drivers. The mouse gestures mean that you can use Windows 8 without missing a touchscreen, but the end-users will really need edge gestures on trackpads and the Microsoft Touch Mouse to make it more natural.
But touchscreen or mouse, Windows 8 undeniably shines. The final desktop look makes the transition between the Modern UI and desktop less obvious. You can still stay substantially in the desktop if you want to and enjoy a faster, more secure version of Windows with a better browser that has longer battery life.
But as more useful Modern UI apps come along, you'll find you split your time between the two experiences more and gestures could be critical to making that a natural combination.
Keep an open mind, spend some time getting used to the charm bar and the Start screen. Once you do, we defy you not to be impressed by Windows 8.