With Windows XP facing end-of-life and the Windows 8 preview in the public’s hands, enterprises are considering a radical move: skipping two
versions of Windows. Migration will be a very hot topic in 2012. With any type of strategic IT decision, organizations need to consider many different
factors such as resources needed, costs, testing, compatibility, and training. While Windows 8 is loaded with new features, it also deprecates
features users have grown accustomed to and it will require extra user training. But before you race to Windows 8, check out these 8 reasons why
as a CIO, you shouldn’t:
Slideshow: 8 Hot Features in Windows 8
1. Devices have to catch up to OS capabilities – Windows 8 is more than the next Windows operating system. It is really about a whole
new wave of devices and a new touch-oriented computing experience. Unlike other tablet or slate devices (e.g. iPad or Kindle Fire) that have
hardware genetically tied to software, Microsoft is sticking with its model of empowering independent hardware vendors to create devices to run
Windows. Because the paradigm shift with Windows 8 is bigger, the risk is greater to migrate early as vendors rationalize and perfect implementation
of touch in Windows hardware. Having penned the CIO’s worst four letter word less than 100 words into this missive is telling. But really, no one
thought twice about keyboard and mouse compatibility. With touch coming fully into the mainstream, we are being forced to consider all of the
device changes we so easily forgot. There is also the not-so-small budget consideration around hardware procurement. You can count on first
generation devices to be more expensive and less reliable and durable than their second or third generation successors.
2. A new breed of hardware is accompanied by new drivers – With the new wave of devices comes a whole new set of device drivers
and the great IT pain point of driver management. In the past you could probably get by with the UPnP in-box driver that wasn’t exactly the OEM
driver, but worked. With touch and a new breed of wireless peripherals that will surely accompany these new devices — not to mention the
deprecation of optical drives (I’m afraid, a DVD drive will become increasingly rare on devices intended to run Windows 8) — driver management and
smarter deployment will become critical. Because of the new capabilities of Windows 8 devices, workers may actually be rendered totally
unproductive because of a driver issue that today would just be a nuisance. This is a potentially massive hit not only to worker productivity, but
demand on IT for desktop support.
3. Windows applications have to catch up – The software industry has a lot of learning and then a lot of work to do. There will therefore
be a big gap in time between Windows 8 being released for sale and software being properly developed for Windows 8’s new capabilities. There is a
whole new world of Metro for software manufacturers to learn. We will all have to implement Metro-based apps or portions of our apps properly
into our products. Until Windows applications get a chance to mature on Metro though, it could be very hit-and-miss in terms of the overuse and
misuse of Metro, which could cause potential reliability and productivity issues. ISVs have had a heck of a time getting updated to the Vista/7
platform. The good news is that those apps should run fine on Windows 8, however they will be conventional Windows desktop only and not
Metro-enabled. That being the case, why deploy Windows 8?
4. “Dear Helpdesk, how do I turn off my computer?” – User training and acceptance is a massive consideration. I only listed it fourth
because if you don’t have a device to install an OS, stable drivers to run it properly, and apps to run on the OS, you wouldn’t put it in front of people.
Unlike the move from Windows 95 to XP to Vista to 7, Windows 8 is not just a different looking start menu: there is no start menu. You no longer
access the start menu to shut down. In fact, there is no default shut down option displayed on the UI when the user is logged in. These seemingly
very small things can be a huge disruption for even tech savvy end users. The better bet is to let users educate themselves through a few years of
use on their own at home and then capitalize on this user-funded training to introduce the device at work.
5. Consumerization security, and the network edge – On the surface Windows 8 looks and behaves like a consumer product and you
better believe the early success of Windows 8 will be with consumers. Everyone has taken their iPads to work and Microsoft expects you to do the
same with a very capable Windows 8 slate device. This is tricky because individuals’ decision to work from a Windows 8 slate is out of a CIO’s
control. The upside is that since it is a Windows device, it is much more manageable than non-Windows devices. At a minimum, any consumerization
or de-perimeterization initiatives need to be driven by carefully conceived IT policy.
6. Tick-tock but not of the clock – There are releases of Windows that overhaul the entire code base (the so-called “tick” such as
Windows 95 and Windows Vista) and there are releases that build off of or extend an existing core code base (the “tock” like Windows XP and
Windows 7). Technically, Windows 8 is a tick release, which most organizations wait until at least the first Service Pack to implement, if they
implement it at all.
Windows 7 Bible: Everything You Need to Know About Microsoft’s Windows 7 operating
7. Migration, again – Since it took so incredibly long to get to Windows 7, what is the organization’s tolerance to undertake another
migration? Is IT prepared to jump into it? Have you evaluated all of the facets and ramifications? What projects are waiting and will be postponed if
you move to Windows 8? Do you have the resources for another migration? Will you see an ROI with yet another migration so soon? Most
organizations are suffering from “migration fatigue” and don’t have the energy, and ultimately lack the cumulative political will to undertake the entire
8. The unknown – The last, but most important, reason not to race to Windows 8 is that no one knows what Windows 8 will really be
when it is released. We have a very, very early release of the product, which was really only provided to get the ecosystem of hardware OEMs and
ISVs, a group Microsoft depends upon to make Windows successful, working on making their products work properly with Windows 8. There is a
whole flywheel that has to get spun up for Windows to be successful. If you choose to be a part of that spin up, expect it to consume a lot of time
and money as you join the OEMs and ISVs who are developing and refining products and tools to run on this exciting new platform.