Windows 8 Tablet-Ready, Desktop Not So Much
As the hype around Microsoft Windows 8 reaches a fever pitch, solution providers who have been working with early-release versions are learning the ins and outs of Microsoft Corp.’s ambitious new operating system effort.
For at least one veteran Windows partner, the early returns on Windows 8 indicate it’s best to take things slow.
Mike Romp, senior consultant at SWC Technology Partners Inc., (Ranked #9 on the Channelnomics and Ingram Micro SMB 500) which specializes in providing IT solutions, managed services and consulting to the midmarket, says he’s been using Windows 8 for the last 6 months and is currently using Windows 8 as his every-day operating system.
Romp’s first comment isn’t about Windows 8 — but rather about its predecessor, Windows 7. Plenty of businesses are either in the process of finishing or have recently finalized their Windows 7 migrations. Dealing with those clients is job one for solution providers like SWC.
“What we kind of stress is the hybrid deployment model. If you just rolled out Windows 7 or [are still using XP], there’s no need to go straight to Windows 8. There’s lots of situations where you want Windows 7 on the desktop,” Romp said.
“The executive and mobile workforce are going to get that new kind of hardware. For those people, we really stress Windows 8.”
Romp also noted that Windows 7 and Windows 8 can peacefully coexist. “One advantage is that, if [a company] completed a Windows 7 deployment, you can use the same policies to control both. You don’t need to be locked into one or another, so we’re really stressing hybrid deployments.”
But Romp is careful to note that he’s been using an Intel Corp.-based Windows 8 tablet as his main computer, not Windows on ARM.
“In any enterprise organization, I’d recommend the Intel-based tablet for two reasons. First, full Windows 8 is managed by Windows Policy,” he said, noting that Windows RT loses some management capabilities when it comes to using group policies. “Second, the app landscape for Windows RT is still in its infancy. It will take some time for that landscape to develop to the point where x86 is right now. You’ll be limiting yourself if you don’t run with Intel.”
That’s a bold endorsement of the x86 platform, but it’s not without merit. “It remains to be seen [for Microsoft] and app developers [if RT will mature]. There’s a lot of interest and there are plans to extend the Office suite, but [we’re collectively] not sure about other apps.”
So then why Windows 8 and why now?
“Prior to Windows 8 we’ve had the iPad and Android,” Romp said, noting the obvious issues that can arise with consumer technology in the work place. To be fair, there are many enterprise ready apps for iOS and Android. Citrix Systems, VMware Inc and Cisco Systems have all built prominent business-ready apps.
Still, Romp maintains that Windows 8 tablets are better suited because you’re not “limited with enterprise apps,” and IT can provide more granular control. The underlying Windows OS and familiar x86 infrastructure make it a superior device from a compatibility and manageability standpoint. This is why Romp says that “Windows 8 is bridging the gap between the new mobile device trend and… bringing enterprise apps into the mobile landscape. It’s an absolute no-brainer on the [tablet].”
Microsoft will still have to compete for SMB and enterprise mindshare where iPad and Android tablets already have a sizable head start with integration among existing Windows machines. Worth noting: A SWC Technology tech trend survey of over 200 individuals found that 75 percent of respondents plan on using Windows 8 in some fashion by the end of 2013.
However, there is one nagging question, likely only to be sorted out after the marketplace votes with their wallets. If Windows 8 on Intel is the major platform that dives Windows 8 sales in 2012, who will the Windows RT crowd be for? More importantly — will that crowd be relevant in a year’s time when x86 processors have improved to the point where Windows 8 tablets running x86 are not just the de facto standard, but also more powerful?
We’ll just have to wait. Windows 8 officially debuts next week, on October 26.
This article, “Windows 8 Tablet-Ready, Desktop Not So Much” originally appeared online at Channelnomics.com