Microsoft Windows Expert Answers Windows 8 Questions
My colleague, Mike Romp and I have been hosting monthly events on Microsoft Windows 8 and are very excited about the product’s official release on October 26th. Mike has been using Windows 8 on his tablet, since the preview was released in February, so I thought I would have him answer some common Windows 8 questions our customers have been asking.
Microsoft Windows 8’s new features have a heavy focus on touch screens, what will users who have not upgraded their hardware get from the new OS?
While many of the improvements in Windows 8 focus on touch-centric UI improvements, there are several new features that will benefit users of non-touch hardware.
First, Windows 8 is faster than its predecessor in startup times – much faster. This is due to Windows 8’s ability to hibernate just the system kernel. Windows 8 will also run on any machine capable of running Windows 7.
Second, users who upgrade can run the new Windows 8 applications. This probably won’t be a deciding factor for many organizations, but the number of Windows 8 applications is expanding every day. Eventually, users will be able to run the exact same applications across all devices, from desktops to tablets to smartphones.
Windows 8 provides much better multi-monitor support. Multiple monitors are becoming increasingly prevalent in today’s workforce, and Windows 8 finally addresses this from a UI level. Not only can users apply different background images to different monitors, but the taskbar can now be duplicated across all monitors. Additionally, Windows 8 applications can run alongside legacy desktop applications when using a multiple monitor setup.
Finally, there are a lot of minor tweaks that probably won’t affect the average user, but will really improve the desktop experience for us tech folk. Client Hyper-V finally brings a real hypervisor to the client OS. The improved Windows Explorer along with its enhanced file copy dialog makes a lot of everyday IT tasks a lot more streamlined. And then there are the little under-the-hood things like native USB 3.0 support.
It’s important to note that even if a company isn’t ready to jump in with both feet, it still has the option of rolling out a hybrid Windows 8 deployment. These organizations can choose to upgrade only the executive and mobile workforce, while leaving the rest of the company on Windows 7. The same deployment infrastructures used for upgrading to Windows 7 can be easily extended to support Windows 8.
What types of organizations can benefit from an immediate upgrade to Windows 8 and what types of organizations should wait?
Since one of Windows 8’s main focuses is on mobility, any organization with a significant mobile workforce will benefit from Windows 8. The tablet form-factor is here to stay; however, the selection of tablets prior to Windows 8’s arrival had a paltry array of enterprise and line-of-business applications. Windows 8 finally combines the convenience and empowerment of mobility with the productivity and security of an enterprise-grade operating system.
Organizations with a large, static workforce could probably hold off on Windows 8 for a while. While there are definite improvements, it may be hard for these companies to justify the additional user training that will be required for Windows 8.
What factors should a company considering upgrading to Windows 8 take into account?
Any organization looking to upgrade to Windows 8, or even Windows 7, should consider their current deployment infrastructure. The old block-level, hardware-dependent imaging solutions of the past should be replaced with intelligent, hardware-agnostic deployment solutions.
For companies with a Microsoft Enterprise Agreement, the natural choice is Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager. For companies with tighter budgets, the freely-available Microsoft Deployment Toolkit fits the bill. Both of these products allow for simplified and automated image deployment, as well as integration with the User State Migration Toolkit to ensure that all user data and preferences are transferred during the upgrade process.
To learn more about how Microsoft Windows 8 can help you and your business, please join Chicago area IT consultants SWC Technology Partners for our next Microsoft Windows event or follow Pete Lee on LinkedIn.