Windows RT May Be Microsoft's Answer to Apple and Google in the BYOD Game

CIO.com columnist Rob Enderle says enterprises won't rush to roll out Windows 8. However, they may see the new OS in the form of Windows RT, the ARM version that combines the snazzy UI that users like with management and security controls that IT likes. In other words, Microsoft may finally make a foray into BYOD endeavors.

By Rob Enderle
Fri, May 04, 2012

CIO — There is an interesting post from the Microsoft Windows team on the Windows On ARM (WOA) version of Windows 8 that was recently renamed Windows RT—which reminded me why I'll never do Microsoft naming again. Windows RT is targeted directly at the iPad users who are bringing that product into the enterprise today on a wave of trend we are alternatively calling consumerization of IT or Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) because we evidently can't come to a consensus on just one term.

For the last couple of cycles, IT has driven PC deployments in large business. Lately, iPads, and increasingly Apple PCs, have appeared to bypass IT of late, and Microsoft has mostly been missing out on this trend. However, the ARM version of Windows 8 could be a compelling offering that users are more likely to drive. IT will in turn prefer to create something that could move even more quickly than Apple's offerings recently have. Let's explore that.

IT departments and Windows

Windows, prior to Windows 98, generally came into the enterprise with users—a precursor to the BYOD movement. IT didn't embrace Windows and control its movement until the Windows 2000 launch, when Y2K issues forced an early march to this new platform. Since then, IT departments have driven Windows migration.

Microsoft's tight focus on IT departments created a disconnect with consumers with their PC and, prior to Windows Phone 7, their phone platforms. As a result, Microsoft has seen its OS market share decline, particularly on smartphones and especially as iPads have come into businesses without a credible Windows challenger. If one regard smartphones are handheld PCs and tablets are touch PCs, then one gets estimates suggesting that the Windows market share has dropped from better than 90 percent at the beginning of the last decade to around 40 today.

IT departments and Apple

While Microsoft embraced IT much more closely over the last decade, Apple ignored it. Steve Jobs, on his return to Apple, shifted the company's focus away from business customers and discontinued many related product lines. This allowed Apple to better target the consumer market. The rest is history—iPod, iPhone and iPad sales have catapulted Apple past Microsoft in both valuation and mindshare.

However Apple's consumer-driven approach has left it vulnerable in critical areas such as security. For instance, Microsoft addressed the recent Flashback software flaw in three weeks. It took Apple three months. By then 600,000 machines had been infected, leaving Eugene Kaspersky to suggest that Apple's security is 10 years behind Microsoft's.

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